In Busty Girls Held Hostage By Retailers & Economy, Deanna does an excellent job of describing the horrible realities of trying to shop for bras in larger sizes. You should go read it. Now.
Go ahead; I’ll wait.
begin my continue Deanna’s rant, let’s note that this isn’t a critical post trying to create (or add to) the body image or other issues of smaller chested women; I know they have their own issues and I’ve covered them too. However, when it comes to bras and public opinion on controlling their breasts, bigger busted women have bigger issues.
Bigger breasted women have more breast, back, neck, and chest pain than our smaller breasted sisters. Bigger busted women are more likely to be harassed; accused of hyper-sexuality; noticed, documented and fired for not meeting dress codes; and the prices for bras in larger sizes are, well, larger. To some extent, the larger prices are fair (it takes more fabric, etc.); but overall, as Deanna points out, we bigger busted women bear a larger economic burden on our already sore shoulders.
Between weight issues, hormones, diet, aging (yes, baby boomers, I mean you!) — and, yes, even implants — there are a lot of us. But why, then, is there a smaller number of, and limited access to, properly fitting bras for big busted women. What’s the real reason for the tiny selection of bigger bras?
Catherine of Kiss Me Deadly has shown us all the math in her post, Sizes, and why we don’t make all of them in the world. But even with all that (dizzying) math, she still arrives at a a question:
I do sometimes wonder whether this is how we arrive in a situation whereby what sells is much smaller than it statistically should be – having been deprived of fashionable clothing for ages, perhaps curvier women have just stopped bothering to shop?
Yes, this may be part of the problem… Only part of it.
In Plus-Size Wars (published July 28, 2010 in The New York Times), Ginia Bellafante reports that 64% of American women are plus-sized, yet we only account for 18% of retail fashion sales. If that’s shocking to you, get a load of this:
The correlation between obesity and low income goes some way toward explaining the discrepancy — the recession was particularly hard on this segment of the market, with sales declining 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, a drop twice that of the women’s apparel industry over all — but it doesn’t explain it entirely. That figure has been fairly constant for the past 20 years. Even as more and more women get larger and larger, what is available to outfit them remains limited.
Given the fit challenges a plus-size customer faces, the shift to a virtual space where nothing can be tried on can seem alienating to her — a directive to wear a muumuu. She may not particularly like muumuus, and she doesn’t want to be regarded as someone for whom muumuus are a reasonable choice.
The market for plus-size clothes is effectively a Catch-22: women purchase less than they might because what they see on the racks doesn’t appeal to them; manufacturers and retailers cite poor sales figures as evidence of low demand and retrench, failing to provide the supply that might meet changing tastes.
And so we rather circle back to Catherine’s musings.
But only after more proof of economic burden and additional facts regarding limited options.
Obviously there’s a problem. Fatism exists, even in mammary glands, and it’s institutionalized in fashion and retail, perpetuated in media, and allowed in our culture. (Need more proof? See this article on swimsuits.)
The result is less product for bigger busted women, less places to buy it, and even less places to try it on. Depressing.
No wonder we have body image and self-esteem issues.
Via Deanna’s Herstory collection, I found this heartbreakingly honest confession from Kat of What Would Mommy Wear? In her post, My Journey To Fat Acceptance, Kat, the beautiful woman you see here, writes:
I remember having only three pair of pants, a few shirts and one black dress because I was waiting to buy clothes when I lost weight. I never wore makeup and I only did my hair to look presentable.
I believed that I didn’t deserve friends, nice things, vacations, good jobs, or even love because of the fat that naturally collected on my frame.
Thankfully, Kat accepted herself, her beauty.
But have retailers, designers, manufacturers?
When will they?
It is an economic issue that needs to be addressed, one which Deanna herself noted (in her posting of her article) ought not exist in a capitalistic society. If a free market dictates, why aren’t the large numbers of big busted consumers a part of it? Discrimination is at work. No matter how you want to parse it.
Comics from Busty Girl Comics.