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The Problem With Kmart’s Relabeling Plus Size as ‘Fabulously Sized’

Today Kmart announced a new merchandising strategy that it believed would put its straight- and plus-size offerings on an even playing field, according to a report from WWD. The first part involves extending the sizing of each and every one of its in-house brands (yes!) and discontinuing the use of the term plus-size to describe products (double yes!); however, it’s the second part I’m not so supportive of.

See, while Kmart is eliminating the descriptor plus from its apparel branding, it’s not erasing size categorization; instead, its larger items (which go up to 4x) will be tagged “fabulously sized.” Though I’m in awe and appreciative of the retailer’s effort to make all its clothing come in full-size runs, I think it’s important we take a further look at this relabeling. “When we reached out to our members on social media, they told us we needed to have a better assortment and that we should we call it something different,” Kelly Cook, Kmart’s chief marketing officer, told WWD. She continued, to my surprise: “They absolutely love this whole mantra of ‘Fabulously Sized.'”

And I get it: No one really wants to shop “plus-size” clothes, and they definitely don’t want to be personally called plus-size. Some of the most prominent public figures of this community haven’t been quiet about their desire to distance themselves from the term all together. “I prefer curvy honestly—plus-size feels outdated and no one thinks of it in a positive way,” model Marquita Pring told Cosmopolitan. “It’s always got this sort of stigma attached to it. I’d like to do away with that.” Earlier this summer Ashley Graham told New York that she doesn’t understand why the divide exists in the first place: “It’s like, ‘Plus what?’ That’s something I’ve always been told: ‘You’re not good enough because you’re plus-size.'” She acknowledged that some people use and feel empowered by the term, which is great—her issue with it is that we feel the need to make that distinction in the first place.

When planning this monumental shift in its marketing (and seemingly speaking to consumers about it), did no one at Kmart think it would be more revolutionary to omit a label entirely? If they read the same Internet I do, I really don’t know how they missed that. In my conversations with friends and colleagues who shop this category, the consensus always seem to be that no labeling is the preferred way to go—because, if women who wear sizes 0 and 6 don’t have one, why should we? So my question to Kmart is: Why take away “plus-size” only to replace it with something equally demeaning? Fabulous is a nice word and all, but let me tell you: My size 16/18 ass (the average size of the American woman’s ass) does not need to be dragged so far out of unconfidence that it needs a patronizing term to describe the clothes its supposed to fit in.

Cook, citing the NPD Group, also told WWD that the number of teens buying extended-sizing clothing in the U.S. has doubled since 2010, and that the proportion of teens buying extended-sizing clothing is currently 34 percent (compared with 16 percent in 2010). Which means one thing to me: Fashion and its treatment of extended sizes is directly affecting how young women feel about themselves. (More clothes equals good. Backhanded-language equals bad.) We—media, brands, platforms—need to be especially careful about how we talk to them about their bodies because it can leave lasting affects. As someone who grew up experiencing tiny aggressions thanks to my aforementioned ass (taxi drivers telling me I’m pretty for a big girl, doctors assuming I’m trying to lose “all this weight,” Instagram commenters telling me to get on a treadmill), a department store sign telling me how to feel about my body is the last thing I need to “deal with.”

But, Kmart, don’t get it twisted. All of my claps (save one!) are directed at you making all 482 stores in your chain stock all clothing lines in all sizes. Thank you for helping to create the fashion world I want so badly to exist. And maybe next, you’ll scrap labels all together. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Related Stories:

Yes! AYR Is Launching Plus-Size Denim in Up to Size 22

Christian Siriano’s Inclusive Spring 2018 Runway Featured Size, Gender Diversity

Lauren Conrad’s Kohl’s Line Is Expanding Into Plus Sizes

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東京 University Of Tokyo. Creative Writer & Thinker. Music fanatic. I love my dog. Born & bred in Japan but frequent Los Angeles. Beauty & Fashion is my genre

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