Brandy Melville fuels body dysmorphia

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.

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

Danny Razzano | Daily Trojan

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.

Follow Rini on Twitter @RiniSampath
11 replies
  1. Val
    Val says:

    first of all , brandy melville is Amazing . Honestly if you cant fit in the clothes shop somewhere else , but bash on the store why ? The origin of the brand is Europe . Maybe if you put the mcdonalds happy meal down and ran a little you would be able to wear the brand. why do you have to be jealous that you cant fit into the clothing

  2. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    As a teenage girl who wears a size 16 in jeans and a Large or X-Large in shirts going onto their website is so depressing. Yeah okay, it’s they’re store, whatever, it doesn’t mean that it’s right to tell me that if I can’t fit a size Small then I can’t shop there. And to be completely honest it’s just stupid, they could make a lot more money if they sold larger sizes but I don’t know maybe they don’t like people who are average or large. Bottom line a store shouldn’t make you hate yourself because you can’t fit into most of their clothes. And btw Jess, Danielle and Arianna you obviously don’t know what it’s like to go into store after store and come out with nothing because the store doesn’t stock your size and then you spend the rest of the year in sweatpants because all the clothes that fit you are ugly.

      • S
        S says:

        You can’t compare Lane Bryant and Brandy- one is made for a non-normative body type (as per societal ideas) and the other ~is~ the norm (as the store itself preaches: one size fits most) when in reality one size doesn’t fit most. Not only is Brandy Melville catering to a certain attitude and subculture but that entire attitude and store ambiance is defining itself as the ingroup rather than the outgroup. It’s hard to believe that one size fits most when you walk into the store and hold up a pair of shredded high waisted shorts that look like they were cut to fit a prepubescent gymnast (no wonder the eating disorder correlation). And even sadder is the amount of female defense of Brandy on here. Shame.

  3. Ras
    Ras says:

    Ultimately, women have to either admit they are very easily duped by marketers and easy prey for others to set their own image for them or that they will be strong, independent thinking individuals and not cave in to stupid marketing ploys.

    No one has a “right” to NOT feel bad because they feel they are being excluded from a clique. These manufacturers are trying to make their customers feel like they are part of an exclusive “cool table in the lunchroom” and the author of the article is crying to mommy to make the cool kids sit with them.

    How many male images of ripped, six packs abs do we see everyday and how many men in reality have a flabby waistline? Should men group together and boycott all superhero movies because we are not as lean and muscular as the image in the billboard?

    I agree eating disorders are a problem but I do not understand why we are so quick to play the blame game instead of raising young women to shrug off this brand-crazed worship.

    The author also seems to represent a growing population of self-important, sanctimonious people who are driven to destroy and eliminate anything they do not approve. Who are you to say what kinds of signs and tags another company has the right to display? Who made you the ruler of all things public? How is it some girls are aware of this brand and even if they do not fit into their clothes, they do not have an eating disorder? Could it be it is possible for girls to have enough confidence and intelligence to not place so much stock on stupid label gimmicks?

    BTW, would the author also berate Lane Bryant for making clothes only for another subset of the population? The author I am sure deplores Lane Bryant’s exclusionary tactics of only catering to plus size women. Or does the author practice her own form of hypocrisy and only have vitriol towards skinny girls?

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    This was beautifully written. I totally agree and am glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that way since the only store that existed was in santa monica. I recentley went into Brandy with my friend and saw a curvy girl of age 12 distraught and hysterical. As her mother tried to calm her down, it turned out that she was crying because she didn’t fit into any of the clothes. The terrible feeling permeated the store for a bit. Yeah- no body told her to shop there but as a consumer and human being she had the free will to go inside. Clearly Brandy has taken Los Angeles by storm; whenever I go out, I noted that all teenaged girls who wear brandy are thin thighed and long haired girls who want to resemble the brandy girl image on instagram. It’s just sad that some people are not educated enough to see the overarching message and greater picture of image discrimination. Hope people love themself enough to shop at a store where they feel and look as great in their own size and figure type at any age.

  5. Jess
    Jess says:

    It’s ridiculous how much I hate I see towards girls that DO fit into Brandy Melville’s clothes. There are plenty of other stores in this world so if you don’t like the “one size fits most” then take your money elsewhere because I can assure you that it’s not gonna make a difference. If a girl feels like she has to lose weight to fit in A stores clothes then she has some issues of her own that she needs to work out, don’t go point a finger and make someone else the bad guy. The store is not the pathetic one in this situation.

  6. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    The store is clearly marketed towards women 25 or younger. The label “one size fits most” is directed towards their customers, not aimed to tell women everywhere what size they should be.

    Next, this company has locations in cities that fall far below the national average of obesity. This means your fact that the “average American women is a size 14” is irrelevant due to sample size and target market.

    Saying that brandy Melville shouldn’t market a body type is like saying Sport Chalet shouldn’t sell running shoes because a large percentage of Americans can’t run a mile.

    It has come to the point where we, as a society, should stop accommodating overweight people, and start addressing the cause. Making clothes in bigger sizes won’t help overweight people feel any better about themselves nor will it make them any healthier.

    Lastly, mean girls was a fantastic movie. How dare you make a Gretchen Wieners quote a social issue.

  7. Arianna
    Arianna says:

    Okay i shop at brandy melville. I don’t understand why everyone has to bash this store. The founder decided to make the clothes one size fits most. That’s their company & they can do whatever they want to. Just because you might not fit into the clothes doesn’t mean you have to hate on this store. No one asked you to shop here, & if the label one size fits most offends you, then go shop somewhere else.

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