Express went years ago.
Then Banana Republic and White House Black Market.
And most recently, Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft.
I actually cried over the last two. I’ve been a loyal shopper (and former employee) of those stores for years. It was hard to not take the slashing of my size personally.
However, as painful as it is to be told that keeping 2 or 3 pieces of clothing for you isn’t important, it’s more insulting that the stores act like it shouldn’t be an inconvenience.
For instance, I called Ann Taylor’s customer service, and received this email response:
Thank you for your e-mail. We were sorry to hear that you have been unable to find the size 16 at your local store. Currently size 16 items are exclusively available through anntaylor.com and LOFTonline.com. Due to low demand and spacing limitations within our stores we are unable to offer the full collection including both colors and sizes. However our online store does offer additional lengths and colors as well as the full petite collection for clients to ship as needed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused as this is purely based on sales and not intended to cause any inconvenience. I will gladly share your request with our Product Allocation team as well for future consideration.
We certainly value your feedback and appreciate your efforts to contact us directly and share your concerns. In the meantime, we do hope that you will continue to check back with our store locations as well as our online store for any updates and/or special offers
I’m fat. Not stupid.
Or maybe I am stupid. I am assuming that having to shop online is an inconvenience. Let's think about this. I have to pay shipping. In fact, if I need a certain item for a certain event on a certain date, I probably have to pay for expedited shipping...and just to be safe, I need to buy multiple items in maybe a couple sizes. Then pay for shipping to return it. Plus, I may notice that prices sometimes are reduced in store more than online and that I can't get a price adjustment for that. Oh! and the sales associate who may be on commission really has no desire to check inventory online for my size when they won't receive credit. It's a wee bit insulting to be told that all of these factors shouldn't cause me an inconvenience.
I may also be stupid if I fail to understand why stores continue to make the business decision to marginalize more than half of their consumers. The average American woman is a size 14. More than half of American women are classified as overweight. I’m a size 16 (ok – 18 more recently), and basic statistics would say that there are a lot of us. We’re young. We’re old. We have money. We want to look nice. We’re just fat.
It's hard to accept that this is a "sales" and "space" consideration when I worked retail for 10 years. I know that only 2-4 of each style number is a size 14 or 16, while there are usually a dozen size 6 or 8. I know that mannequins are size 0 and so are in store ads. I know that I often have dismissed stores and not gone in because they look like skinny people stores. I also know that when I have gone in, often all of the 16s are sold out. Of course it seems like they sell fewer items - there aren't as many in the store to begin with. Maybe I am stupid if I believe that the myth that size 16 doesn't sell is instead a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, Dear Retailers: I’m fat. Not stupid. Not unfashionable. Just fat. I’m busy and my time is important to me. If you make cute clothes that fit and are available in my size, I will shop, and so will my friends.