Brandy Melville has earned quite the reputation as a trendy Italian brand with California flair. Though some of their clothes appear clever and cute — after all, who doesn’t want to own a shirt with the classic Mean Girls quote “You Can’t Sit With Us”? — Brandy Melville’s company practices are toxic to our culture.
On any day at Third Street Promenade, it’s quite easy to spot swarms of giggling girls, clutching their handbags and smacking their gum, browsing the Brandy Melville store. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that picture — sounds like any other scene while shopping. But a quick glance around Brandy Melville and something different will stand out: The black and white signs dispersed throughout that read in all-caps, “one size fits most.”
Now here’s a problem. One size does not fit most. According to the Los Angeles Times, the average American woman is a size 14. The crop-tops and miniskirts that litter the shelves of Brandy Melville would barely cover the average American.
So, factually, the label is wrong. Secondly, this type of a store environment — one that emphasizes girls of other sizes are not welcome — is extremely damaging to female self-esteem. Brandy Melville embarrasses girls of different sizes by insinuating that “most” women are petite, when in fact, they are not. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, in a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58 percent felt pressure to be a certain weight. Furthermore, companies such as Brandy Melville fuel eating disorders by propagating an ideal body shape. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, young people go to great lengths to meet these unreasonable societal expectations: More than 50 percent of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives.
Brandy Melville boasts on its website, “Women of every age can find something at Brandy Melville to fit their style, closet and budget.” Women of every age? Why not women of every size? It’s difficult to imagine a 70-year-old woman donning a “B-tch I’m in the 212” shirt — Brandy Melville’s priorities are clearly askew.
In order to ameliorate their current misconduct, they should act immediately. If Brandy Melville does not plan to add additional sizes any time soon, they must remove these signs from their stores and the tags of their products.
Ultimately, if they wish to stick to such a narrow — pun very much intended — target audience, their profit margins will inevitably suffer. But consumers have the power to stop such companies from perpetuating negative body image, no matter their size or shape. Asking them to remove these signs is the first step in battling such distasteful choices.
When girls already wallow in a world of self-loathing, we don’t need stores like Brandy Melville reinforcing ideas of a cookie-cutter shape.
Yet according to the Times, Brandy Melville is not alone.
The Times reported that “Fashion-forward boutiques such as Maxfield and Fred Segal rarely stock anything over a size 10, and in designer shops, sizes beyond 6 or 8 are often hidden like contraband in the back.”
Staying conscious of these unacceptable practices allows us to have control over the world around us. Stephen F. Quinn, senior vice president for marketing at Wal-Mart, stated at a company convention, “Today, the customer is in charge. And whoever is best at putting the customer in charge makes all the money.”
Most recently, companies such as Forever 21 and H&M took pressure from consumers seriously and expanded their fashion line for those over a size 12.
Evidently, entrepreneurs recognize the power of the public. It’s time to harness that power in order to spur change.
So ladies, if you find it hard to squeeze into one of their low-quality cotton shirts, don’t think any less of yourself. Take your money and time elsewhere. Until Brandy Melville realizes that they’re wrong, we must realize that there are way more appropriate and fashionable options.
So listen up, Brandy Melville. You definitely can’t sit with us.
Rini Sampath is a sophomore majoring in international relations (global business). She is also the editorial director of the Daily Trojan.