We Need to Include Size Inclusivity in the Body Positivity Movement: Here’s Why

I remember being 14 years old and seeing a huge poster at my local mall. I walked right up to the poster and looked at a girl with freckles, stretch marks, a round stomach, and a beaming smile. She was an Aerie girl. I had never felt so content with myself. I swore off other bra companies and immediately bought a sweatshirt from Aerie. Because, yes, it is that easy to get women to buy a product.

But I didn’t get the happy ending with Aerie that I thought I would. Some years after seeing that poster, I remember crawling on the floor of my local Aerie store, trying to reach way in the back of the bottom of a drawer. A sales clerk told me that the cute bra on sale would not be in the color I wanted in my size; in fact, Aerie only carried a try-on bra in my size. I’d have to order the bra online, but only if they happened to manufacture the bra in my size. I switched to searching the sale bins, trying to find at least one bra that would fit me and make me feel like the girl in the poster I saw when I was 14. But I realized right when my hand got stuck amidst the beige clothing that it shouldn’t be like this. So I walked right out of the store. I couldn’t get the $20 lacey bra; I had to get the $65 black bra that was a replica of the rest of my underwear drawer. I didn’t feel like the model in the poster. I just felt sad, for even Aerie, a company devoted to body positivity, couldn’t include me in their fun. This exclusion made me realize that it’s one thing to preach body positivity and refuse to airbrush models; it’s another thing to have tangible change within a company. Companies like Aerie will not be full vehicles of body inclusivity and change until they actually sell to all body types and sizes.

Unfriendly size ranges suggest that only a fraction of the population deserves to engage in society the way they want, express themselves the way they choose. Limited sizing punishes women’s bodies, lumping them into a demographic not to be touched by marketers because hey, why would they want fashionable clothing anyway? It’s not like they’re human. It’s this mentality that dehumanizes women who do not fit in the clothing industry’s contrived sizes.

Size inclusivity isn’t just smart business because it’s what everyone is talking about, the cool new trend. Size inclusivity raises profits for companies better than any ad with a skinny model can. Diverse bodied women do not stop wearing clothes because the companies they like don’t cater to them; they just have to contend with clothes they do not like or that fit them poorly. But if companies made clothes for all women, they would tap into a larger demographic, a larger consumer base.

Nothing makes a woman feel more confident than feeling like she will have support to express herself fully. We need to continue the push for creating spaces for all women. In this era of expanding media, it should be easier than ever to represent diverse women by simply looking out into the world and seeing the beautiful resilient women who are ready to thrive in and expand upon the fashion industry.