Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fat Tuesdays : Solstice Intimates


Before you go all commenting, half cocked, this issue has been updated and resolved, as far as I'm concerned.

A few Fat Tuesdays ago, I talked about speaking up.

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.

solstice feed
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
Thank you

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.


  1. I don't know if there's a difference in UK/US sizes, there probably is - from shop to shop it differs here - but the average woman in the UK is a size 14/16 I think, so I don't know how the hell a 10/12 can be considered XL for a start! I think there's a similar perception problem here though, where they always use 8/10 models in shoots, but in recent years it has started to shift a little, and you'll also see size 14 mannequins in some major shops now, but it still doesn't address the real issues,or go far enough.

    I discuss this stuff a lot with my friends, who are mostly women, and many of whom struggle with their body images. Friends who call themselves fat, just because they don't have washboard abs, amd go on fad diets which no-one ever sticks to anyway. I try to be reassuring and discuss the root problems with them, let them know that 'fat' isn't a bad thing anyway. It hurts me to see people I care about hating their own bodies just because of the way all of this stuff is presented in the media.

    In terms of this company, they're obviously no different than many others out there, and the fact that they even said to you about not having any larger models who fit the 'brand image' merely suggests that the brand image has an upper size limit. It's all such crap, and little wonder people - mostly women. - feel so bad about themselves these days!

    1. Yep, it's the same here in the U.S. The "average size" is usually either the upper reach of a size run or one size above the upper reach.

      I hadn't considered that their "brand" had an upper limit, but that really makes sense. I always think that defending sizeism or racism or ageism because of "brand" is usually just an excuse not to admit to be sizeist or racist or ageist!

  2. I really like most of what Solstice offers, but also had a problem seeing myself in their clothing. You and Shannon both rocked it! I felt it was important for companies to offer variety in their models, but now seeing their website and seeing your photos and being able to say, "Yeah, that could work!" It really makes me feel more strongly.

    I also feel like they are perhaps seeking a brand and style that they feel will diminish by adding larger models, and I also feel their response to your email was just a bunch of fluff.

    I'm rather anxious as to whether or not they'll take you up on your offer!

    1. It always bugs me when a company won't find larger models. It seems incredibly lazy to me and makes me wonder if they want to appeal to thin girls. If they do, they should own it!

      I haven't heard anything from them, so I really don't think they're going to take me up on my offer.

  3. Holy bitch fest. If you're pissed off cause their lingerie won't fit you maybe you should just go with a different brand? Not all clothing is made for all people. And before you say anything, I'm a size 12 and I've been lusting after their goods for ages. I noticed a big change in their IG feed adding some girls with curves. You also have to keep in mind that this company is run by one lady out of her home. It's small and maybe they can't afford to offer as wide a range of sizes as they should? Like you said yourself, people come in all shapes and sizes and it's hard for a small company to get everything right. As for why they haven't used your shots, you were so negative and aggressive in this post, why would they want too? Also, from obsessing over their IG feed and seeing how many girls complain about needing bigger sizes, there is almost always a response from Solstice offering custom sizing. It's awesome to see models your size so you can envisage yourself in the garment but do you think everyone relates to Victoria Secrets models?? And how many people of different sizes shop there. There ya go.

    1. I published your post despite it's incoherency.

      Girl, I think you need to ask yourself why I am the bitch? Seriously. Why does my questioning a company's ethics and models make me a bitch?

      I'm gonna go ahead and say because our cultures, despite your being from Canada which does make us different, define bitchiness as women speaking up for themselves.

      If you're really a size twelve, then you should want the same things I want. You should want models who represent your size so that you know how something will fit you and how it will look on you.

      Also, it's pretty clear this company isn't run by just one woman. There's no way that one person could do all that is represented online and in these clothes. So, just stop believing that which isn't true.

      Girl, you deserve companies who represent you! So do I! And you deserve companies who don't lie to you and who don't bullshit you by trying to tell you that they don't exclude you while actively excluding you from their company image.
      You can call me a bitch all day long, but having high standards doesn't make me a bitch. Trying to tear me down because I published a well thought out and educated response to an injustice also doesn't make me a bitch.

    2. Related : The e-mail I received in reply to my comment was not form the business owner. Simple business searches turn up the name of the owner of Solstice Intimates and her other businesses as well as the house she owns and where all these businesses and home are located. Do some research about a person before you decide she runs it all on her own. She doesn't. And if only she would come here and speak for herself.

  4. Wow, I really wish you would have gone about this differently. I am the owner of this company, Natalie Maddon. My best friend, Kat helps me with customer service and emails. I have one assistant seamstress, her name is Kim. Its a bummer that I can't use these photos and promote a woman that is attacking me as a person and my business ethics. I do sew these pieces in my home, often for over 15 hours per day. I understand that they fit larger sizes comfortably but, as you mentioned I cannot return them as they are handmade to order and I can't resell worn underwear so I play it safe in my sizing recommendations. I'm not going to argue your points here but did feel the need to let you know that I would have loved to use your beautiful photos but I cannot support someone who obviously does not support me. Total bummer.

    1. This comment is a joke, but I'm going to publish it anyway. I'll respond in a blog post.