Why BBW is Full of Crap

I’ve long hated the term “Big Beautiful Women” because frankly it’s just bull shit.

“Big” implies a size above average, but the average female in the US has a height of 63.8 inches, a weight of 163 pounds, and her waist is 36.5 inches (circumference), which would be a size 14 or an XL; how can you even call her “Big” — she’s average.

Proving that a size 14 is the “Big” part in BBW, stores like Lane Bryant (part of Limited Brands, which I’m beginning to despise as a whole) proclaim themselves as the fashion outlets for women sized 14-28. Yet we’ve established that 14 isn’t larger than average — it’s not plus-sized — it is the damn average.

Which reminds me of something that you ladies will want to know…

Years ago when I was buying for retails stores, you were offered what were called “pre-packs.” A pre-pack was an assortment of pieces selected by style and size. In a traditional 12-piece pre-pack you’d find jeans allotted in the following sizes:

Size 3/4 – 2 pr
Size 5/6 – 2 pr
Size 7/8 – 2 pr
Size 9/10 – 2 pr
Size 11/12 – 1 pr
Size 13/14 – 1 pr

(Note: if you received a size 1/2 you didn’t receive the additional size 9.)

Ladies, this is why you complain that there’s only small sizes on those clearance and bargain sales racks — you aren’t crazy, this is what’s left because there is less of their size available to start with. And yes, average sized women will have to pay full price (and right away) or miss out.

So here’s yet another clear example of why retailing gets it all wrong. They don’t stock the correct sizes in proportion to their customers. (Hey, just imagine how much money they’d make if they only stocked appropriately?)

But back to my point regarding BBW.

The second ‘B’ in BBW is for “Beautiful.” If clothing manufacturers and retailers really thought the women wearing their clothes were beautiful they wouldn’t just offer sacks. Manufactures and designers wouldn’t design clothes for sticks and then scale them up by meaningless percentages to fit ‘larger’ women. (We all know just upping a garment by a percentage doesn’t address issues or proper fit and proportion.) Instead, they would design clothes for at least the average sized woman, size 14 or XL, and scale down for skinny-minnies. Wise retailers would only carry these brands and designs because hey, that’s not only what fits their shoppers, but it’s what they like.

If retailers really thought their shoppers were beautiful and not ‘big’ freaks, they would create shopping environments which reflect this. They wouldn’t keep trying to ‘slim’ the garments the average woman sees. They wouldn’t offer optical illusions which are designed to fool the shopper into thinking smaller or slimmer is better or something other than what they are. Instead they would reaffirm that ‘big’ is beautiful — or more accurately, that average is wonderful — and wouldn’t pretend what they offer and who is shopping is something less-than.

Here’s an example from one of my recent mall-walking outings. These are photos taken via my cell at Lane Bryant.

Here we see a nice and tidy presentation of tan pants.

Note how nice and ‘normal’ these pants seem to be right now.

It’s not until you get up to a pair that you see the age-old trick:

They’ve folded in each side of the waistband, so that it is no wider than the ‘standard’ hangers. In this case, one side alone has 4-5 inches of waistband folded or tucked neatly away inside — out of sight.

That means easily 9 inches of waistband on each side — a total of at least 18 inches of the garment hidden. Why? Well to show how ‘small and normal’ these pants are rather than show how “Big and Beautiful” they are.

Wait, I know what you sales floor people are going to say — “We aren’t trying to make them smaller! This is only done so that the garments are shown neat and tidy on the racks; having all those extra waistbands flopping off the side of the hangers would look so sloppy!”

To you I say, “Bah. Get bigger hangers.” Wider hangers cannot be more expensive than turning off your customers.

This method of display is likening the average woman’s “extra” and “floppy” mid-sections as “sloppy.” Doesn’t sound like “Big and Beautiful” to me.

So when I hear folks patting themselves on the back (or trying to get the marketplace to do so) for catering to BBW I just cringe.

The average woman is not Big, and they aren’t treating her as Beautiful.

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