Specifically, I was referencing how, when I'm shopping online and the models are all very thin, it's hard for me to see how clothes would fit me. How can I order clothes online when I can't see how they would fit me? Many articles about the clothing industry talk about how fat girls should spend their money. There is a call for shopping with our dollars, to tell clothing companies that we exist and we want clothes in our size. I think that's flawed logic. Many companies do carry our size, but their models don't represent that. Especially when shopping online, or when a company sells only online, it's important to see models that represent the range of sizes available to shoppers.
Many moons ago, a friend told me about Solstice Intimates, a lingerie company in Arizona. Everything is handmade out of vintage fabrics, particularly velvet. (They have since expanded to include cotton.) My friend was particularly in love with their bralettes, a garment that is very trendy right now. I am less interested in bralettes, since I currently wear a 36DDD (according to Victoria's Secret). Bralettes offer no support and are not something that is comfortable for me. Despite her love of the bralettes, I was intrigued and hopped right up on their Instagram account to check out their full line. I fell in love with their clothes immediately and went online to check out everything and the prices and all of that.
I was incredibly disappointed.
This is a selection from their Instagram feed of 524 posts. Out of 524 posts, there are only six posts of girls who are even remotely curvy. That's 1%, in case you wanted to math. It's also just fucking insulting, honestly.
Their models are very thin, oftentimes frighteningly thin. Every model has a thigh gap and most of the models are flat chested. (They have since posted more photo shoots that include a couple of models with curve to their chests.) According to their size chart, they go up to an XL in everything they make, which, no surprise, is only a 10/12. This is incredibly common sizing in the fashion industry, but I find it to be unacceptable when it comes to individually handmade clothing lines. (Of course, this clothing company offers the option of sending in measurements to ensure proper size and fit.) What's worse, is that the return policy is no returns or exchanges. So we have a company that creates everything individually, by hand; goes up to XL or 10/12; has no returns or exchanges; but features only thin models on their site. Seeing this, I sent them a note;
You know, I really like what you're making but all of your models are extremely thin. I read the information about sizing and clearly a bralette is not going to provide support for my big boobs, but it would be so nice to be able to go through your photo diary and see someone with some DDs and maybe some love handles, ESPECIALLY since you make high waisted undies. Instead, I have to look at bunch of girls who are so far from my size that I can't even imagine myself in your beautiful lingerie. I really, really, really want to buy from you today, but how can I? If only I could see myself represented on your website, I might be able to shop here.
I sent this message at the same time that I sent that other one to the t-shirt company. I awaited both anxiously. I was pleasantly surprised by the t-shirt company's reply. (Sadly, the follow up appears to be a complete lack of models, which doesn't really solve the problem.) However, I was less than impressed with the response from Solstice Intimates.
Ok , so first off we never want to make anyone feel excluded EVER . In fact I myself wear a 32 GG and have modeled for solstice and am in the feed. Also one of the most recent models we posted is a DD and a size 10. We make extremely adjustable pieces that work with all body types. As far as our feed is concerned a lot of the models are not actually models but our friends . You might be shocked to know that it is actually really hard to find girls that are confident enough to prance around the streets of AZ in their undies. We would love to have more full figured models but we haven't been able to find girls that fit the brand image that have a little extra curve . Trust me as a large chested girl myself I would love more variety. Also bralettes just aren't for everyone. The support isn't there. And that's ok because there are women that are smaller chested that need stuff too. Please just know that we are not excluding any body type. We do not support body shaming for thin girls or curvy ones. Thank you so much for your feedback . If you need anything else feed free to message again
Oh man, y'all. There is SO MUCH that is wrong with that message! First of all, let's talk about the fact that more than half of their shoots take place INSIDE, so the idea that most girls aren't confident enough to "prance around the streets of AZ" is preposterous, since so much of what they shoot is inside. (And their new, every day line, is completely inside.) Not to mention that the "undies" are high waisted as are the body suits, and their shoots regularly feature jeans, shorts, skirts, and t-shirts paired with the undies. The very idea that there are only skinny girls comfortable showing their bodies is preposterous. If that were the case, there would be no plus size models ever, and certainly none confident enough to end up on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition!
Secondly, the comment about bralettes not being for everyone. FUCKING DUH! I wasn't trying to shop for a bralette that wouldn't hold up my boobs. Also, bralettes aren't difficult to make, which is why they are so popular on Etsy right now. It takes a lot of skill to make a bra with underwire, it takes much less skill to make a bralette. Attempting to defend the choice of bralettes and their lack of support is really fucking funny, since it shows that the maker is not particularly skilled.
Also, the "there are women that are smaller chested that need stuff too"!!!!??? Y'all, I can't even. That shit is just ridiculous. OBVIOUSLY, women of all sizes need clothes. ALL HUMANS NEED CLOTHES. That was so beyond the point. Fat girls are underrepresented in the fashion industry. But more than that, as a retailer who sells exclusively online and allows for no returns and no exchanges, it is patently ridiculous to expect your customers to shop based on one body type featured in your models.
I mean, the entire tone of the response was such apologetic bullshit.
Oh, and the implication that I am body shaming thin girls because I want to see models closer to my size featured is really fucking insulting.
This is a comparison of my friend, Shannon, in a size large body suit versus an average model from their site. Note how Shannon's body has such cute little curves. That's fucking real, y'all.
You might think that I shut down their website and never went back, but you'd be wrong. Instead, I ordered two body suits for two shoots and a set of undies and bralette for myself. I know, I know, that is kinda crazy. But really, I had already fallen in love with their stuff, and I was just kind of pissed at the bullshit they were pulling and the bullshit response they had.
I wasn't really sure about the sizes for my models or the fit. How could I be? Their site left me nothing to go on. I was damn sure that I'd never wear a bralette. I spent nearly $300 anyway.
The first thing I noticed is that the lingerie is sewn with a zig zag stitch and not a serger, which shows what I had already suspected; lack of professional equipment. I also noticed that the lingerie elastic (all of the contrast banding) was incredibly stretchy. This seems abnormal to me, but it also means that there is no real way to tighten down any of the straps. Are they adjustable? Sure, but they wouldn't do much more than simply rest in place. These are flaws, true, but they are not deal breakers. The overall concept of the lingerie is cute and unique and the fabric is high quality.
I ordered for my personal shoots because I knew they'd look good. I ordered for myself so that I could write this post and offer Solstice Intimates a second chance. I don't like to come at a problem without a solution, so here I am, offering up myself and my photography for their site.
Dear Solstice Intimates,
I am definitely a curvy girl, though I can't really say if I fit your "brand". Near as I can tell, your brand consists mostly of tattoos, emaciated models, and 70s inspired styling. That's not really me. I'm also not in the desert, so you're gonna notice a big ass lake in the background of these photos. But I'm offering them to you, an entire album of my photography, that you can use as you want. Two models : one size large and one size XL. I'm a size 16, by the way, which means your size XL fits bigger than you say on your site. It fits comfortably too. Your XL bralette fits a 36DDD easily as well. No support, of course, but it provides coverage. You can see from the photos that I'm moving and jumping around and your bralette did not fall off my tits.
In the future, if you're interested in representing a wide range of girls, I just want you to know that I will continue to model your lingerie. Sure, you'll have to send me something for free, but I'll pay you in a photoshoot of whatever you send me. This way, you can follow through with your message that "we are not excluding any body type." I offer up to you a body type that is at the largest end of your spectrum. Please commit to your own words and use that body type. It's here. I'm ready.
Here is a link to a flickr set with images of Shannon in a size L and myself in a size XL. You can download any of the images for free and use them on your site or your IG. If you want to work with me in the future, just contact me : thehonestbadger (at) gmail (dot) com.
Oh, and I just wanted to add, as an example, JBC Lingerie. What is apparent to me when I browse their site and look through their Instagram is that they make an effort to use real people-sized models. The girls on their site, thin or not, look real and natural. There are big boobs and tiny boobs and big butts and tiny butts and love handles and tiny waists. There are even boys! I'm just saying, it's not hard to find real people, ESPECIALLY IF THE MODELS ARE YOUR FRIENDS! I mean, come on. When I look at my friends, I see people of different sizes and shapes and colors. So I just think that any company who wants to try to tell me they are not excluding any body type but somehow manages to have only very thin models (or 1% "curvy" models) is just trying to feed me some bullshit.