A couple of days ago Apples & Pears received a message on our Facebook page. In this message the writer explained that she was keen to support local businesses but had looked at our website and felt that our clothes are “horrendously unflattering”. She went on to explain what was wrong with what we are selling and what she, albeit not plus-size herself, believes plus-size women should be wearing.
We have thought long and hard about how to answer this message, and decided that, in light of the societal attitudes it reveals, the content deserves a wider response. So, here, dear Facebook correspondent, is our reply to your points (in italics) and why we don’t care what you think we shouldn’t wear:
“Horizontal stripes? A jumper that is half-black half-white but in halves, not another proportion so the eye dances between the two halves over the tummy/bust?”
Yes, horizontal stripes! Why not? At Apples and Pears, we don’t believe it is our job to sell clothes that will make our customers look slimmer, because that is a judgement we do not make. (Who is to say our customers even want to look slimmer?) Our job is to sell pretty, stylish, practical, comfortable clothes in sizes that fit our customers, at affordable prices. Take a look at our model in that jumper you dislike so much – we’d say it ticks all the boxes:
“Huge polka dots?”
Yes, huge polka dots! Why not? Within the bounds of common decency, there are NO rules when it comes to what women can wear, and that includes plus-size women. You like polka dots? Wear polka dots! Plus-size women have absolutely no responsibility to make their bodies appear more ‘palatable’ to anyone: There is no burden incumbent on them to wear anything that makes anyone but themselves happy. So, yes, plus women can wear polka dots, stripes, bold patterns, crop tops, tight skirts… they can wear whatever they like.
“High round necks, shirts done up to the neck?”
Yes, high necks and shirts that do up! Why not? We have plenty of lower-cut pieces if that is your bag, but it’s not everyone’s. Shockingly, plus-size women are not all alike and have just as varied tastes as thinner women do – so naturally, there are some who love to show some cleavage, and some who prefer not to. As plus-size women deserve just as much choice as thinner women, we offer plenty of different styles.
“..the first photo should be of it worn, plus with a necklace or scarf accessory. Curvy women can pull off some great shapes, bold accessories etc”
Why do we need necklaces or scarfs? Not all plus-size women fit the mould of flamboyant, kaftan wearing types and not all plus-size women feel they need to ‘distract’ from their body by wearing in-your-face accessories. Our photos show our clothes exactly as they are because we don’t believe our customers need to be patronised into believing they need to compensate for or appease their very existence by adding a ‘chunky necklace’.
Oh, that word! Flattering essentially means, ‘make look better’, and we all know that for plus-size women that means ‘make look smaller’. You’ll notice we don’t use the word flattering anywhere on our website or promotional material, and that is a conscious choice. We don’t believe the function of plus-size fashion is to smooth, reduce, deceive, distract, suck-in or minimise in any way, and that’s because we don’t believe our customers need to be minimised in any way. As plus size women ourselves we refuse to be told that it would be better for everyone if we took up less space, and we don’t expect our customers to accept that either.
So, dear correspondent, you will see that we thank you for your message but will not be taking your advice. And to our dear customers, we’d love to see photos of you wearing ALL the clothes you shouldn’t wear and being happy and healthy doing it! Let’s flood our social media and prove we can and do wear whatever makes us feel fabulous!