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The Problem With One Size Fits All Clothing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

Think about a time when you saw something labeled “one size fits all.” Now think about how many times that label was correct. One size may fit some, but when it comes to clothing, it never fits all.

Popular among America’s youth for its instantaneously cool look, Brandy Melville is a brand that is notorious for its one-size clothing. The Italian label migrated to the U.S. in 2009 and opened a store in Los Angeles. Now, the retailer boasts 23 stand-alone locations nationwide, mostly in California and areas around New York, along with many outposts in select Nordstrom and PacSun stores.

The stores are known to feature wooden signs among their breezy, modern atmospheres that read “one size fits most.” The ease of being able to shop without having to look for sizes is supposedly what makes the brand a favorite, along with its super soft clothing. American Eagle is one of the brands that jumped on the bandwagon just last year with a line that closely resembles Brandy Melville.

The problem is this: The girls featured in ads for these brands are clearly of a certain mold. Upon browsing the Instagram page for Brandy Melville, you’ll mostly find tall, slender, leggy, white models who ooze California cool from the pores of their often long, blonde hairlines. So if a brand is using these girls to advertise a one-size line of clothing, it’s safe to assume that they’re designing the clothing to look good on these types of girls.

While Brandy Melville’s size options seem to be body shaming young, impressionable girls, some have even experienced direct body shaming by employees while shopping at their stores. There’s pressure to look a certain way upon walking into the store, even by customers sizing others up. The retailer is setting a standard of beauty with the unspoken presumption that if you don’t fit into these clothes, you don’t fit the standard and therefore you aren’t beautiful or cool. This has a damaging affect on the confidence and self-esteem of girls that many are unaware of.

Just to be able to fit into a pair of Brandy’s skinny jeans, a girl would need to have a 25-inch waist — depending on the brand, that’s a size 0 or 2. Melville, however, claims that anyone walking into a store will find something, “even if it’s a bag.”

On the surface, featuring one-size-fits-all clothing sounds like a great way to eliminate the classification of women by sizes. But in reality, these brands’ attempts to be body positive and inclusive of all body types is actually doing just the opposite. Women aren’t built the same by any means. Tops are one thing, but bottoms? Hips don’t lie, and not everything can be created equally when making clothing to fit them.

As cliché as it may sound, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Brandy Melville and other one-size clothing brands, unfortunately, do not.

Yasmine is a senior at James Madison University majoring in writing, rhetoric and technical communication. Half-Italian and half-Palestinian, she was born and raised in Herndon, VA. Her favorite shows include New Girl, The Office, and Law and Order: SVU. During the school year, Yasmine writes for publications such as Potty Mouth, Port & Main Magazine, The Breeze, and Health Greatness, in addition to Her Campus. She is also involved in many clubs around campus, such as Muslim Student Association, SafeRides, and Make Your Mark On Madison. She has a passion for writing and hopes to begin her career as a fashion journalist after college. 
Rachel graduated from the Honors College at James Madison University in May 2017 and is pursuing a career in the media/PR industry. She majored in Media Arts & Design with a concentration in journalism and minored in Spanish and Creative Writing. She loves spending time with friends and family, traveling, and going to the beach.