Melissa McCarthy Is Right– Plus-Size Labels Are Absolute Nonsense
As you may have heard, actress Melissa McCarthy is designing her own clothing line, Melissa McCarthy Seven7. It’s a little different from most celebrity lines given that McCarthy actually went to FIT and has a background in clothing design — but also because, although she will be designing from sizes 4-28, she will not be labeling the clothes over a size 12 as “plus size.”
In an interview with Refinery 29, McCarthy expressed her disgust with segregated plus-size sections:
“I don’t like the segregated plus section. You’re saying: ‘You don’t get what everybody else gets. You have to go shop up by the tire section.’ I have a couple of very big retailers that I think are going to help me chip away at that in a very meaningful way, and I’m really excited about it. I’m not ready to announce them yet, but they agreed to just put me on the floor. I said, ‘Run the sizes as I make them and let friends go shopping with their friends. Stop segregating women.’ And they said, ‘Okay.’”
McCarthy is right. Labeling things plus-size is positively absurd. What? Is it that without that label they fear that a size 4 woman is going to accidentally think she’s a size 18? Will it cause mass confusion and possibly riots? Because I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon, or, in fact, ever.
It’s unfortunate, really, that anything over a size 12 is relegated to a half-assed, smaller section over in Siberia — when and if it exists at all. Hell, a lot of stores barely carry anything over a size 8. Most boutiques you go in don’t even buy full size runs of anything; rather, they determine who the clothes will look “best” on and order 0-4, 2-6, or 4-8, with the occasional 8-12 (maybe one or two items per season).
The actual reason for this, and for plus-size clothes being labeled as such, is twofold. On the one hand, it has to do with designers and retailers feeling that their clothes look best on skinnier people. The fashion industry is pretty asshole-ish in this way. I also think many designers aren’t skilled enough to have their designs look good on anything but a hanger. (One big exception: Shoshanna makes killer dresses for ladies with boobs. Love her forever, would have 10,000 of her babies.)
On the other, it has to do with the logistics of merchandising. Again, smaller clothes look better on hangers — they make for a better display. However, having a small amount of clothes makes them appear to be more exclusive and therefore more valuable. Having a size run, on a rack, of dresses from 0-24 would make them seem less valuable because there would be more of them.
However! At the end of the day, it’s a bad idea to alienate potential customers. It’s a bad idea to make them feel less valued. It’s a bad idea to not have anything for them. Because at the end of the day, there are a lot of women out there who are over a size 12 and have money to burn — who would probably burn a lot more of it if they didn’t have to feel like lepers every time they go shopping.