Today In Fatphobia; A Size 10 Is Now A “Large” 1 240

Melissa Tattam – one of the more forgettable characters of “reality” show Made In Chelsea (I can’t snark too much, I do watch it, hence why I know she’s forgettable) – has had to defend herself this week after shoppers pointed out her new swimsuit range touted a size 10 as a “large”.  Not content with charging hundreds of pounds for tiny scraps of fabric, she also decided to make her range exclusively for “petite” people.  Lucy Horobin, from heart radio, challenged the self-styled fashionista by saying that in her view, given that the average dress size in the UK is a 16, an 8-10 would be a small.  Melissa retorted that as far as she was concerned a 4 is an extra small, therefore a 10 is a large.  As a plus size shopper I am often frustrated by stores like Primark, where an 18-20 is usually billed as an extra-large despite being only 1-2 size’s above average (which should surely, from a logical stand point, be medium?) but a size 10 as a large?  In what universe?  If she doesn’t want to sell to plus size ladies – presumably because she doesn’t want fat bodies making her brand look less glamourous – then the least she could do is be honest about her sizing and motives.  Instead she hid behind the defence that there were many brands who cater exclusively to plus size women so she wanted to cater exclusively to smaller women.  OK, but why label them large then?  By labelling them large you are telling all your fans desperate to emulate your style, largely young and impressionable girls, that to be above a size 10 is unthinkable.  Besides, the reason there are so many plus size brands is because the high street and online stores are awash with places that stop at a size 16, the average size.

This isn’t the first time a Made In Chelsea cast member has come under such criticism.  I called out Binky, a character I actually like, in 2015 for the sizing of her range.  Again, my criticism wasn’t that she chose not to cater to larger sizes but her dishonestly about it.  She advertised the range and spoke about it as being inclusive to all body types, yet the largest size available on any item was 18 and most stopped at 16.  So inclusive to all body types means inclusive to all those who are average or less.  I pointed this out to both her and In The Style, the store who put out the range, and said that they clearly did not want fat people as customers, to which they threatened to sue me, in public, on twitter.  I was not intimidated as the evidence was there, as it is with so many companies. 

This also comes shortly after yet another photo went viral demonstrating the inconsistency in sizing of clothes, with several pairs of jeans all from New Look and all billed as a size 12 shown to vary in actual sizes by inches.  If someone who is 2 sizes smaller than average struggles to find jeans that fit, what hope is there for those who also have to buy these inconsistently sized items in overpriced specialist stores?

The message from many brands here is clear; we don’t want your custom.  Your body is not good enough to wear our clothing.  But guess what?  If size 16 is average then nearly half the clothing market is being cut out by many brands (much more so if you’re stopping at a size 10).  The fat pound (pun intended) is worth investing in.  Fat people wear clothes.  Fat people swim.  Fat people exercise.  Fat people wear shoes.  The old argument that making clothes for us isn’t economical holds no weight anymore (again, pun intended).  Either admit you just don’t want us or step the fuck up.

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F. R. Kesby is a poet and storyteller from Leeds, England. She studies language and literature, teaches English as a foreign language as well as writing (and ranting) about feminism, LGBTQ+ issues, her life as a disabled person and, of course, Doctor Who. You can find more of her writing on Spoons and Toons.

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