I am a plus-size woman who loves fashion. You wouldn’t think that these two truths would be contradictory, but they are; because of my size, it’s nearly impossible to buy clothes I like, let alone within a reasonable budget. Not only are there fewer options available to size 16+ women, the brands that do have these options — and those that lead the industry in ethical production — only offer their products online, and tend to stop at a size M/L. Plus-size women make less money, pay more for clothes, lack shopping resources, and are forced to shop online (where we can’t try on anything), which means we also have to pay a shipping fee just to see something in person. This is not news to us plus-size women. But, it’s incredibly frustrating. And, after a very passionate discussion with my friends about this nonsense, we decided to do something about it. Because, frankly, we’re tired of waiting for the industry to fix its problems, and a girl’s gotta get some new stuff for all her holiday parties! Our solution: To host our very own clothing swap for our plus-size friends. This way, not only were we all walking away with clothes that actually fit us, but we could also get “new” pieces without spending a dime — plus, reusing and recycling clothes is one of the best ways to shop sustainably. Beyond that, this was an opportunity to get to meet so many cool people in my community who know exactly what it’s like not to have many fashion options. At the end of the event, we all ended up with new pieces, and were also able to donate over six boxes of size 14-28 clothing to a local shelter.
This was as much about building a community as it was about fashion, so for those who couldn’t contribute to the clothing swap but still wanted to shop, we asked for donations of tampons, pads, and unused makeup for us to send to women’s shelters along with any leftover clothes. In a generous move, U By Kotex sent a ton of product boxes as well. We, as plus-size people, end up contributing to unethical fashion practices because we don't have a choice in the matter (other than making our own clothes or, you know, becoming nudists). That doesn’t sit well with us, and clothing swaps like this are a small move we can take on as consumers to rectify this. Obviously, it’s ridiculous to think that creating beautiful, sustainable, affordable clothing should be shoppers’ responsibility. We need designers and retailers to step up and start looking at sustainable fashion for all (it’s also a great business strategy; the plus market has the potential to be a $9 billion industry). “I am a plus-size women who loves fashion” shouldn’t have to be a contradiction. We need to start including plus-size women in this important conversation and providing the fashion options that are readily available to our straight-size counterparts, so that we can move forward together into a more eco-friendly world.