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Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING
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Author:  Spender [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:53 am ]
Post subject:  Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

Trigger Warning: Fashion insanity discussed. Some talk about obesity.

A loyal reader of my blog contacted me this morning and was clearly fired up!

“You have to see this Dr. Deah, it was on Good Morning America. Oooh this really got to me!”

She described the segment by Juju Chang and with curiosity piqued and deflector shields up I crossed over enemy lines into a place where I rarely venture…and here is what I found.

Americans Too Big for Zara Clothes

I pushed the play button and watched a segment about two size 18 fashion bloggers: Alissa Wilson of Stylish Curves and Shainna Tucker of A Thick Girls Closet, who accompany Chang (size 8) on a shopping trip to Zara to see what clothes they could find.

The answer for Tucker and Wilson was none.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Zara, it is a Spanish clothing chain and one of the prominent retailers in the world; out selling other fast fashion notables such as H&M and Forever 21. But while H&M and Forever 21 offer plus sizes in their American stores, Zara refuses to do so. I suppose that is their prerogative; after all, plus sized stores don’t feel obliged to offer smaller sizes and there is nothing new in the world about specialty stores, but this particular piece on Good Morning America raised a lot of questions for me and stirred up a maelstrom of emotions. In the segment we watch Chang, a size 8, effortlessly slip into a Zara XL jacket and we hear her mutter,

“Well, I guess I’m an XL now.”

I can’t say for sure and I’m curious what others think because I may be projecting, but I detected just a tad of dismay and resignation in Chang’s voice. What I can say for certain is that whatever her tone was, it was NOT elation and I could almost imagine her skipping her next two meals and making it a goal to be a Zara M before Christmas!

And she wouldn’t be the only one. It is well documented that many women’s self-esteem is intertwined with their clothing sizes. I wrote a piece about vanity sizing last year. And as ridiculous as people know it is, and this includes men as well, even if a pound isn’t shed, if the size tag shows a smaller number, people feel better, more attractive, more worthy. So if Zara is trying to sell skinny as the ultimate fashion ideal, they are meeting their goal. I went to their website and was not surprised to find each of their models visibly thinner than thin. I chose not to post the photos as they can be triggering but if you explore the site you see that even the men and children models have the infamous Kate Moss Waif look from the old days when the emaciated look first took hold and spawned a generation of people desperate to emulate that body type; which while beautiful in its own right, is NOT natural for most and can result in disordered eating behaviors in efforts to attain the “LOOK.”

But believe it or not, I digress! The GMA piece doesn’t go into whether Zara’s exclusion of plus sizes may lead to possible increases in Eating Disorders. My hunch is Zara would respond to that line of reasoning with the counter argument that offering plus sizes would exacerbate the obesity epidemic in America and reinforce fat people’s choice to be fat. After all, aren’t we colluding by providing them with the option of affordable and fashionable clothing…EGAD!! Instead the GMA segment has Wilson and Tucker asking the following questions:

Aren’t our dollars as good as a thin person’s dollars?
Why don’t we deserve to wear your clothes?
Wouldn’t you make more money if you offered more sizes?

And the success of other retailers who offer plus sizes would support that theory, but either Zara doesn’t believe it or they are choosing to shroud their fat bias with a financial excuse and a vague explanation that it would be too complicated to expand (pun intended) their size offerings.

In an article by Suzy Hansen in the New York Times titled, How Zara Grew Into the World’s Largest Fashion Retailer, (November 9, 2012), Ms Hansen discusses an interview with the Jesus Echevarría, the Communications Director for Inditex, (the fashion company whose most famous brand is Zara). Mr Echevarria is asked why there are not nearly as many Zara stores in the United States as there are in other countries? Mr. Echevarria explains some of the challenges with competition and marketplace saturation in America but adds,

“There is also the delicate matter of sizing.”

Ms Hansen also quotes Mr. Echevarria as saying, “Zara to me is a European store for European style; it’s very fashion forward. And what is the problem in America? They don’t fit in the clothes. So why do it?”

Okay. That is their choice. Who am I to argue with a billion dollar company’s marketing strategy? But that wasn’t the only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth about the segment.

Wilson and Tucker seeing that the Zara clothes would not fit their beautiful curvy bodies in the traditional way decide to go, “…in there with our MacGyver eye – like, ‘how can we make this work?” We watch as these two determined women try to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse by writhing into a skirt using it as a tube top. While Chang thought this was “innovative” I found it distressing. Why are these two self-accepting gorgeous divas so attached to a brand name that clearly has no interest in them?

It reminded me of the Cinderella story where the sisters were slicing off their toes and heels in order to fit into a shoe that just wasn’t meant for them because they want something that is supposed to be the one and only thing a woman would ever want which is to marry a prince. Frankly, I’d rather marry someone who loved me big feet and all and so when Tucker says,

“I still love Zara as a brand…I love their handbags and shoes. I still have a place somewhere in my heart for Zara.”

I felt truly perplexed. Not critical, not judgmental, just completely mystified. Up until that point, the trio did a wonderful job, with the exception of the perfunctory mention of the obesity scare, of speaking out on behalf of the plus size market and NOT blaming women’s bodies for being wrong. It was a refreshing point of view that was diluted by Wilson and Tucker trying to fit in to the Zara products any way possible. Then I saw the story directly underneath the Zara piece and was reminded once again of the lure and power the media and fashion industries have over women.

Fashion Tricks to Fake the Perfect Figure

“Everyone wants the perfect figure and now you can have it. Well, fake it until you make it, at least. Whether you’re curvy, petite, small or large busted, there are fashion tricks to make your body look amazing.”

The segment never specifically defines the “perfect figure” although it is easy to ascertain that it has a great deal to do with being tall enough (counts me out) with some unspoken perfect hip, butt, breast, leg, thigh ratio…like rating a dog at a Best of Show competition.

The Perfect Figure

But the assumption is that EVERYONE wants to be a part of this club to whatever extent they can pull it off. My sanity points at an all time low, I rolled my eyes when I read that one of the fashion tips is to wear longer length skinnier pants to make you look taller. And who do you think provided the pants on the model in THIS story?

I’ll give you a hint…it begins with the letter Z.

Til next time!

Dr. Deah


Author:  Spender [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

Now, for any of you who read this despite the warning, and who are now feeling triggered, I wonder if a few exercises and explorations might be helpful?

First of all, can you ask yourself why it is important to fit ANY brand's clothing? Shouldn't it be fitting you? Zara has clearly chosen another road, but that makes them a bigger piece of the problem, rather than changing the shape of your body being the solution.

Why do you care what size you wear? I wear anything over a range of five or six sizes, depending on the brand and sometimes within brands, and anything from an XS to an EL, depending on the aricle of clothing and the brand. I don't care (mostly; to be totally honest, sometimes I shake my head and think "I'm wearing a size X now???", but if I like how it looks, I buy it anyway and cut off the size label. Fortunately, my advancing years are now blessing me with a very faulty memory and I honestly look at most of my clothes now and judge them by fit, not size, because I can't remember the freakin' size anymore).

This is a good time to practice radical acceptance, and I am going to unclude the URL for the wonderful post written on this topic by the even more wonderful Wickedrache:

Radical Acceptance

And how about you tell me now, what are some of your strategies for dealing with fashion insanity? How do you live comfortably inside your body and your clothes: what techniques do you use and how do you deal with uncomfortable feelings from ridiculous "fashion" trends?

Author:  komich [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I've come to realize that women's clothing sizing is kind of silly anyway and just remind myself of that. I sometimes find myself wishing they'd go by measurements like menswear or at least be CONSISTENT.

To misquote a cat meme, if it fits I wears.

Author:  Spender [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

That's true, Kelly. The reason they don't is historical; when they started making off the rack clothing, it was started for men to wear as work clothing, for the most part, heavy labour. So leg length and waist were important. It was considered inappropriate, however, to design clothes in a similar way for women, presumeably because our waists and leg lengths were of such deep secret and would "tell" the world too much about what exists under those skirts. So the women's fashion world originated from a feeling of shame about poor women's bodies (because, of course, rich women had everything tailor-made). And here we are, so many years later, still fawning over an industry that denies our bodies: our curves, our beauty, our differences.

BTW, I don't cut labels out because I'm a shining star of ED recovery; I cut them out because I'ma delicate little flower and they invariably irritate my skin...

Author:  komich [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

^ I also cut out labels for the same reason. I had mom do as soon as I was old enough to start ripping them out. It's definitely a sensory thing for me. I have some interesting sensory things....
That said I love clothes with the labels printed in. While size is not useful to me, washing instructions are.

Very interesting to know about women's clothes too. I just would have changed it at some point. I know many women would be horrified though because they'd have nothing that was a size six anymore... Unfortunately for me I have very short legs and could do with an inseam when shopping.

Author:  stellie [ Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I am having to learn to accept my new size. I know that it is much healthier....seriously i shouldn't have been wearing clothes that little girls could fit into. Despite knowing this i still am struggling to buy clothes...i find it triggering. So i have been buying flowy dresses that would look good at any size. I am more then a number and i wish the fashion industry was more aware of that...or rather that i become more aware of that and accept myself as i am.

Author:  Kayla [ Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I wanted to add to this thread altho it's been quiet for awhile now. Sizes have changed throughout the years, as we all know. I have a niece who is a non-eating disordered "normal" slender size. I don't know what size that is, but she looks just fine in clothes and I'm assuming that her husband thinks she also looks just fine without them. She LOVES clothes and nail polish and many things girl related, and recently posted on her facebook page that if a certain store didn't stop making their clothes more and more in 'vanity' sizes she would no longer be able to wear their clothes. Not because they are too small, but just the opposite. They have become too big. She hasn't changed size in a long time. Every time she goes to buy clothing at that store, the same size she wore before is now too big. I found this really interesting, and when I needed a pair of jeans not too long ago I found the same thing. I'm just wondering if others are running into this. It's not that the size particularly matters, it's that what I expect to fit does not even if it did fit before or still fits now but in an older style. So odd.

And yes, because of my sensory issues most of the labels in my clothes are gone. Kelly, I too appreciate labels that are printed on rather than a tag for that whole washing piece.

Author:  Spender [ Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

My jeans size ranges over five sizes, depending on the store.

Author:  Kayla [ Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I think mine do too.

Author:  chickadee [ Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I'm a fan of only buying pants that come in S-M-L labeled sizes. Something about it seems less scary than a number.

The original post reminds me of an interview I saw with Mindy Kaling in which she was speaking about what it was like to go to photo shoots where all of the clothing was for a "normal" famous person size and how annoyed she was about that. She said something along the lines of "I can't believe there is always one really ugly dress for me and a huge selection of beautiful dresses for people that are very small. I mean, I'm only a size x, it's not like that's unusual for American woman or anything."

Author:  komich [ Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

chickadee wrote:
I'm a fan of only buying pants that come in S-M-L labeled sizes. Something about it seems less scary than a number.

Agreed. And easier to find what you need. This is why I like running pants even though the only running I do is trying to not be late.

Author:  eniebee [ Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I'm fixated over clothes sizes...
AND I had to question why I was reading that half way through so stopped.

Its weird, with me, my clothes can range from size a to b to c, and on the day I wear something size a i feel elation and it really does effect my mood in a so called ed postive way and find ti easier to eat but if it was a size c (even thought its exactly the same as a) i will panick. Same if the clothing feels tight. Today I wonder, have I felt triggered because a) i'm wearing a dress I have photo of me wearing in last year of secondary school when I was at the end of a awful ed relapse, or b) because it feels tight...

I realise during the past 4 months especially the first 3 months I did an awesome fight at recovery and inevitably my body took the chance to get better and took its medicine! I'm terrified to wear jeans as I just can't bear to see what size I am and all my clothes are in a vacum bag locked in a wardrobe (yes its padlocked).

Ug! I hate the fact sizes are such an issue and would like to understand more about things like this! I remember going to a shop when I was 14 years old and being so upset I didn't fit their largest size. Funny though isnt it at my largest size I was my happiest until I was triggered. Umm. Yeh Don't know where these thoughts were going but yeh I think shops should stop this crappp!!!!!!!!!!!! I was thinking maybe get a friend to help me buy a pair of jeans that fit me and get them to cut the label out as soon as they get through the checkout so I don't know. But that feels a tad cop outish. I don't like feeling confined to dresses.

Author:  Kayla [ Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

Enie, I think that having someone go with you to buy some jeans and cutting out the tag is NOT a cop out, I think it's a great idea. I think that in time, when you are feeling better you will be able to buy clothing with less emphasis on the sizes. Do what you need to do for now. It's ok.

Author:  Persephone [ Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I have to say that now that I have gone up a couple of dress sizes, I have so much more choice! here in Ireland it was so hard to find clothes that fit, especially as I'm also quite short . I'm so happy also that I no longer need to wear a belt . but I do find it annoying that there is no consistency so I can't just grab stuff but have to spend time trying them on . as to the article about Zara, I used to avoid that shop as the clothes were too big . maybe I should give them another chance! now, if only my shoe size would increase too.

Author:  Spender [ Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Zara clothing: TRIGGER WARNING

I feel your pain on shoe size: being a "normal" size means that most nice footwear in my size is sold out loooooong before it goes on sale.

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