My roommate is an artist and she sells her designs on t-shirts on Etsy. I help with her business, packaging orders and such. I’ve noticed this really interesting phemonon regarding the sizing of clothing.
Some etsy shops list each size of shirt as a separate listing. We only have one listing per design and ask the buyer to just specify in the buyer notes which size they need. We carry classic and fitted shirts in sizes small through 3x, so there’s a pretty wide range available.
Every once in a while I get an order that doesn’t specify a size. Sometimes it’s because the checkout was confusing, and in this case they always send an e-mail letting us know what size they need. But sometimes the person just never specifies a size.
So I contact the buyer and ask them what size they need. Every time I’ve had to do this, the size they want is a medium. EVERY TIME!
One of them even responded, “Oh, I didn’t realize I had to specify what size.”
That, my friends, is thin privilege. You don’t even have to think about what size the shirt is because YOU KNOW that it comes in your size. Medium is the default size. Of course the shirt is a medium, because that’s what size “normal” people are, right?
In contrast, we get lots of questions about larger sizes. Are they standard sizes? What are the measurements for an XL? Will it fit me if I wear a size 22? Can I send it back if it doesn’t fit?
Because when you are a larger person, finding clothes that fits you is RARE. Finding handmade clothes on Etsy that are anything other than a medium is even more rare. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve looked at a gorgeous screenprinted shirt and gotten really excited, only to realize that it only comes in a medium.
That’s why even though our t-shirt wholesale company charges us TWICE AS MUCH for “plus sized” shirts, we well all the sizes for the same price. So we make a little less on larger shirts, and that’s fine. If a company is going to charge by size, then a small should be less than a medium and a medium should be less than a large. But that’s never how it actually works. It’s “normal sizes” for regular price, and “fat sizes” for double. We’re not going to perpetuate that bullshit.
MMmmhm! I remember when we first started ordering shirts to print on and we realized that it was going to cost double for anything above a Large. I don’t know if we actually discussed it but I would never charge extra just so a customer of mine could get something that actually fits, especially when the small shirts cost the same as mediums, or larges, because you know it’s nothing to do with the actual fabric right then and there. And that is total BS, in my opinion.
I just really hate price gouging, for any reason, but this reason in particular is a thorn in my side. It’s mean and degrading and most people don’t even think about it. Just another reason that all of my shirts will always cost a fair and decent price no matter the size, because it’s the right thing to do. I wish big retailers, or heck even Threadless would catch on to this. There’s nothing quite so disheartening as being invited to a $5 t-shirt sale and then realizing it’s actually an $11 t-shirt sale for you.
Yeah I never want to buy clothes online because I’m so afraid they’re not going to fit. Especially when the model is thin and I can tell they’ve been photoshopped. Which is part of the problem because it’s so difficult to find clothes in store that fit. Which as someone who sews I understand how easier it is to sew just a straight line for someone with very little body fat but if you’re getting paid for it (especially a bigger company) you better be able to make clothes for more complicated body shapes.
All of this is a big bag of truth. There have been so many times that I have gone on Etsy to look at cute clothes, but the designer only carries small/medium. And I get it, if you print or make your own clothes, you might not be able to mass produce so you might just have one size, but it’s frustrating that every single time that happens, it’s for thin people. This is especially the case for most super-trendy “alternative” fashion styles, too. Next time you see a picture of some artsy hipster punk whatever girl, unless you’re a body positive blog that can fish out curvy people in cool clothes, I want you to look at her clothes and realize that they don’t make those for plus size people. I would even put my money on that fact. Fashion, even alternative fashion, which is supposed to be a rejection of fashion standards, is dominated by thin privilege. Even super thin people who sometimes get bullied because they are so thin still have this privilege. In our society, fat is the ultimate sin you can commit against other people’s offended senses, because not only do people hate you or find you gross, but it is chalked up to being your own fault. Like your body is offending them on purpose. How dare it take up space. How dare it require bigger clothes. How dare you try to make your fatness cute or handsome. Just simply, how dare you.
It’s not even just Etsy. If I try and buy a shirt from a store (Old Navy or Target or something) in the same size, same brand, it can be widely varied. Sometimes the difference for me between an XL and a 1XL (or a 2XL, there’s rarely a 1XL, I usually have to alter most of my clothes if I want something well-fitting) is hugely varied between brands. And most of the products for Plus Sizes are only online. Some stores have great online return policies and I feel way better trying them on at home anyway, but I can’t order shirts from shirt.woot, or teefury, or riptapparel, unless I want a dude’s shirt because their stupid assed shirts only go up to XL and unless it’ an Old Navy shirt from three years ago, most of the time XL only fits me in a couple of places. Not to mention those online sites almost always have guy’s shirts up to 3XL, but the most variety they’ll offer women is a XS. And hell, I’m lucky that I can MAYBE go into a store and find something that fits me and have a decent idea IF they have a sizing chart.
Target’s got some great Plus Size stuff, but they don’t have a sizing chart AND their sizes are inconsistent across brands. Not to mention a lot of their stock sells out online and if you go to certain stores they put their Plus Size stuff in the Maternity section. Which, f*ck you very much, Target.
I remember finding a great site that had ladies Star Wars t-shirts and the sizing chart was not only confusing (it only measured half the shirt, I guess, not all the way around), but the sizing went up to only XL, I think, and they were sold out with no note on when they might restock.
Definitely something I can relate to. A couple of years ago I lost somewhere in the region of 90lbs (a bit over six stone), having spent the entire of my teenage years hovering around a UK size eighteen-twenty. Two years into having a normative body type, the novelty of there always being clothes that fit me, wherever I shop, has NOT worn off. Some days I go into high street shops to try things on just because I can and that still amazes me. You have to understand, before I turned twenty one, I had never once been in Top Shop, or Miss Selfridge, or Urban Outfittes, or New Look or any of the mainstream high street shops. I avoided those places like the PLAGUE because I KNEW they would have nothing that fitted me and I was terrified of the judgement I’d feel if I so much as dared to set foot inside somewhere that clearly only wanted to cater to skinny people. Even after I hit a size twelve (about the average size here), I was scared to go in to a lot of clothes shops for a long time. Genuinely scared. I had such a reflexive fear of them.
Girls who never have to question that shit have no idea how lucky they are.