Plus size women are discriminated against in clothes stores?

7 January 2015

fat and happyWhen is discrimination actually discrimination, and when is it just plain business?A storm is currently brewing in the US over stores charging extra for plus size clothing. Far from perceiving a $10 price differential as being relevant to the extra material needed, or even an economic decision given the (presumably) fewer sales of plus size clothes compared with regular sizes, customers have even filed petitions to get the store at the centre of  the latest furore, Old Navy, to reduce its prices.

At the end of last year, one customer filed a petition on calling for Old Navy to scrap its 'discriminatory' plus size up-charges, saying that the discrepancy between the prices for larger men and women is nothing other than "straight up fat shaming". Inflammatory remarks indeed.

“Plus size women like myself are kind of fed up with being treated like second-class citizens by retailers,” Renee Posey told “I think it's reached critical mass and people are ready for a change.”

However, a spokeswoman for Gap Inc, Old Navy's parent company, responded blaming the increased costs for plus-size womenswear on the fact that the larger designs require additional details not found in the smaller sizes

“For women, styles are not just larger sizes of other women’s items, they are created by a team of designers who are experts in creating the most flattering and on-trend plus styles, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, which most men's garments do not include,” spokeswoman Debbie Felix explained.

“This higher price point reflects the selection of unique fabrics and design elements.”

Ms Posey, of course, rejected this explanation out of hand, citing the fact that larger menswear designs do not cost more, meaning the extra material (which is likely to be a lot if comparing a US size 0 garment with a size 30 one) cost is clearly irrelevant.

But does she have a proper argument? Take childrens’ clothes as an example- often the same item for an 11 year old will cost more than one for a four year old. Are stores 11-year-old-shaming? Or is the price of an item related not only to the cost of production but the likely turnover and the market price for similar items? Is this just a US fat people thing that has no relevance here, or can we expect to see boycotts outside Evans as larger ladies demand lower prices for a niche product?


  • Ginge M.
    LOL @ critical mass.
  • Commenter
    Ha ha. She said critical mass.
  • Zebedee E.
    The world is mad on discrimination right now! No single enterprise can cater for the entire market - some will be left out. Chances are, everything in the afore mentioned store is priced based on a cost v units basis. There is an optimum price that when multiplied by the units sold will yield the highest returns - the units sold at each price range will vary depending on the products demand and will follow a bell curve distribution; with the peak being the 'optimum' price. It's economics not 'fat shaming' or any other form of discrimination. Or maybe they just want to see more naked fat people? You consider that?
  • Coran H.
    When everyones discriminated against, no one is..
  • jim
    no sympathy for them - need more fabric for larger sizes. that shit aint free is it? eat a fukin salad or cry me a river.
  • Scrotal H.
    I understand her frustration at being charged more. My local chippy charge me more for a large chips than everyone else who are having regular chips! I think it is disgusting and so embarrassing, like when I had to be cut free from a branch of Greggs.
  • Jessica
    Jim, you're precisely what's wrong with this country. Folks who have been blessed with the ease of maintaining a slim body, or were born with white skin, a lack of physical defect, into money, etc -- it's easy for you to stand on the side of "ANYONE can be discriminated against, so why listen to any of it?" And to boil it down to "eat a salad or cry me a river" is one of the most narrow minded things I've ever heard. I happen to know many athletic, perfectly healthy women who are considered plus size. For many men and women it isn't as easy as your "advice" would purport. Living in a world of black and white must be so nice for you, where as we - the people who make a difference in this country and oppose your obvious ignorance - live in the gray area. And for your information, you clearly uneducated sack of ignorance, the "more fabric" argument doesn't fucking work. For example, in Old Navy you can get a size XL or XXL t-shirt, men's or women's, at the same price size XS-L. In the "Plus" or "Big and Tall" sizes (the ones that generally cost $10 more), you can buy their smallest size, which depends on the retailer as far as what that size is called, and it is actually SMALLER in measurement than the standard XL or XXL at the lower price point. So your comment all around was not just discriminatory, it was dripping with your obvious ignorance to fact as well. In response to the actual article, there should be no additional surcharge simply because there is a separate team of people who specialize in designing clothing for the plus size community. I mean, the people who design the standard size clothing, because there are probably MORE in quantity working for the company, must cost them more than the plus size design team, I'm sure. And the surely smaller team that works Plus can't be costing the company more, let alone SO much more that they require a $10 increase in each garment... No, there is absolutely no way that argument can hold an ounce of water. Unless the companies are willing to share what their quarterly costs are to produce plus size vs. standard sizes, then you can't actually make the argument. But I'd LOVE to be proven wrong, so someone get all the quarterly costs, for every company that produces plus size clothing, and publish them publicly so we can all understand in dollars and cents why the plus community has to pay more to clothe themselves, and we can have a real fucking debate about it.
  • MM
    ^^^ We're waiting Jim....
  • emby
    Do you know lots of healthy smokers as well? It's perfectly possible to smoke and be healthy, right?
  • Big A.
    Looks like the fatty fatty bum bum has put her cake down for a minute to comment such utter drivel! Eating kebabs isn't athletic...get over it!!! You use more, you pay more...pretty simple...Or should use that continuously control our body weight supplement your electricity bills too? I mean, your TV must work really hard watching Jerermy Kyle all day, and the fridge does need to keep your cakes cool (the ones you don't eat all at once).
  • Blue_Moon_23
    More money spent on clothes, less money to spend on food, surely we will get to a balance somewhere.
  • Whisky
    Having worked in a buying function for a retailer that has both a range of mens Big and Tall and standard sizes I can tell you this. Prices have got nothing to do with how much material is used on an individual garment or how many people work on it. Its the size range that counts. The sizes all cost the same at a supply chain level regardless. A small T shirt is £3 and a XXL is £3. No doubt the supplier makes more on the small sizes. However if you go back to that same supplier/factory and say I only want to buy sizes from L to XXXL in this style then of course the price goes up because he knows he isnt getting any small sizes. Margin targets are preset so any cost price increase at supply chain level will inevitably multiply out to a bigger increase at retail level. A $10 increase actually seems reasonable.
  • Juliana
    The real discrimination is in the practice of relegating plus sized selections to Internet-only sales. Old Navy is a prime example; none of their brick & mortar stores carry plus sizes- they're only available online, so customers are left to rely on nortiously inaccurate size charts when making purchases. When the ordered items don't fit, the customer has to spend time and money driving to an Old Navy or a post office to make a return. It's ridiculous. Target is another offender, having severely reduced its physical, in-store availability of plus sizes. Ironically the heaps of unsold clothes one can readily find in those places are "x-small" through "large" and 0-10. I don't care about the price difference enough to complain about it, but the claim that "plus-sized garments have to be uniquely designed by a team of experts" is the most flagrantly retarded excuse anyone has ever made in the history of copping out.
  • jim
    discrimination my left bolock. so if i eat too much sugary foods i have to get my extra sized clothes at the same price? jog on - this is capatalism at work. im a size 10 in shoes and sometimes they cost me more than a size 6. do i cry discrimination cos my large feet? please - more materials = more cost. oh but i cant help my large feet - i know well thats the way business works. yeah i agree it wont take more work to make a larger size - but it DOES take more MATERIAL. and guess what - material isnt free - they pay for it. i know amazing eh?
  • soapy
    They should charge them more on planes too as they require more fuel to fly their ass. Person's baggage allowance should be a combined amount with them included. Why should I pay a baggage charge for being 5kg over when I'm sat next to someone who's 150kg plus!
  • Angela
    Yours clothing is very reasonable .... And cheaper than Evans. And I was always made to feel bad being a size 14 many years ago..... I'm 18 to 20 now, but I'm very tall and people often don't see me as being overweight... Plus size women ain't always fat x
  • MM
    Very disappointing Jim... and by the way, it's bollock not bolock.
  • qwertyuiop
    Jessica, in every possible sense GET OUT MORE.
  • Les D.
    I can feel the next feminist campaign coming. "How dare big, beautiful women be expected to pay more than those skinny women with internalised misogyny? Smash the patriarchy!!!!!!"
  • jim
    thanks MM. great input into the discussion - point out a spelling error. pat yourself on the back. no idea what you are dissapointed about - Obesity is a major issue, rather than address that should we bend over backwards for people with that (mainly) self inflicted condition? Yes you say. i could take your point if 90% of over weight people had some glandular or medical condition that caused that. But that isnt the case. you eat too much or the wrong foods you get fat. End of story. go on amazon and you will see people often have to pay more for L sizes. yes just large - not XL or 5XL. just plain old L. So really get a grip - this isnt discrimination. so you can cry about it (me a river) or eat a salad. you are totally avoiding the bigger issue that overweight people are killing themselves slowly and are a larger burden on our NHS than others. but no - lets all get cross cos they have to pay more for larger clothes (like everyone else) grow up.
  • MM
    @jim "no idea what you are dissapointed about" - clearly not. And no I didn't discuss obesity. No I didn't say what you alluded to. And no I'm not avoiding the issue. Read your first post again and Jessica's response to it. You illiterate moron.
  • jim
  • Andy
    If there were more skinny women in the US than fat, guess which size range would be more expensive.... Supply and demand, people.
  • jim
    no no no your sooo ignorant. its discrimination !!!! just like my large shoes - anyone who is size 10 in shoes stand up with me and fight the powers!! boo hoo hoo larger things cost more... except in Old Navy. woe is me - everyone who is not over weight doesnt understand - they dont eat food like me. boo hoo - youre all morons. i'm going down to Greggs...
  • Skinny C.
    Jessica ya fat dog, stop dodging the salad.
  • annie s.
    Can't wait for the day when airlines charge for combined weight of passenger and luggage. Let the good times roll
  • Spencer
    I'm 6ft 6 and naturally broad built. I am by no means fat, but I am TALL. I cannot help but be TALL. I cannot change or do anything about being TALL. No matter how much weight I lose, I'm not going to make my skeleton shrink. Because I am TALL I have to pay more for clothing specifically made for TALL people and I have to pay extra (about £60) to sit in a special seat for TALL people on planes because unfortunately most seats are not made for TALL people. Also, people who are not TALL think I should have to pay more for flights on account that I am TALL and TALL people are more costly for an airline. Now, re-read that statement and exchange the word 'TALL' for 'BLACK' - and you'll see the problem.
  • Pam
    More material cost more...what a copout ! It's definitely discriminating...

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