Plus size women are discriminated against in clothes stores?
When 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 change.org 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 Today.com. “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?