How NOT to Sell Leggings to Fat People

Ah, remeWTF are you doingmber the good old days when the most offensive thing that clothing stores did was using models for plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) who were far too small to wear the clothes.  Well, hold on to your hats because the ante has officially been upped.

Aliexpress, a division of huge import company Alibaba Holding Group Limited, is selling leggings up to 5x, which is totally awesome, often plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only go up to 2x or 3x so it’s great to see a company carrying clothing in larger sizes.  Except…no… it turns out that the 5x is about the same as lululemon straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) Large. (Aliexpress’s 5x:  Waist:  30.4, Hips:  41.8 (converted from centimeters) – Lululemon Large waist 30.5, hip 41) Right.

But that’s not all, they chose to advertise these leggings by having a thin model stand with both of her legs in one leg of pants, stretching the waistband with the opposite hand, like so:


Now, in pieces that I’ve read about this in mainstream news, the authors seem to think that I should be insulted that they showed that there are people who can fit both their legs into one leg of my pants. I’m not insulted by that at all, I celebrate the diversity of body sizes that exist.

I’m insulted that I can’t swing an internet “news” article without hitting a television “news” story about how many of us are fat, but somehow clothing companies can’t seem to find a single fat person to model the clothes that they want fat people to buy from them.

While it’s difficult to tell what clothing will look like on me when I see it on a thin woman who is sealed into it by industrial sized clamps all down her back, it’s downright impossible to tell how leggings will look on me when a thin woman is wearing them as a skirt.  Companies that want my fat money will have to do better than this.

Women who wear plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) face a number of difficulties buying clothes: from companies who market their refusal to make clothes for us as a sign that they are “cool” (*cough* Abercrombie *cough*,) to clothing that is much more expensive than that of our friends who wear straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes,) to stores that sell clothes in plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only online meaning that we have even more expense in the form of shipping, and then return shipping since we don’t get to try on our clothes and we have to guess based on pictures of the clothes being worn models far too small to fit into them.

At an absolute least we deserve to see the clothes that we wear modeled by people who actually fit in the clothes (and companies should be creating jobs for plus size models or, as I like to call them, models), before we fork over our hard-earned money to buy the clothes.  According to all the news stories there are tons and tons of us fat people running around, if companies want to sell clothes to us, they need to hire some of us to model the clothes.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

19 thoughts on “How NOT to Sell Leggings to Fat People

  1. Yeah, this aggravated me when I came across these being sold on Ebay.

    I mean, they could so very easily have advertised these well. (Of course, first off they’d have to make their sizes actually plus sized, rather than skipping along throwing numbers like 5x and 3x around at stuff that isn’t even close to what those figures usually signify).

    I mean, at first glance those look like they could be pretty good leggings. Nice, thick waistband, material looks like it’s decently thick and not see-through. It’s like, the way they’ve chosen to advertise these feels like an intentional choice to be offensive and ridiculous and useless. How on earth do you look at something you intend to sell to people and say

    “Hmmm. We are selling clothes. We are selling clothes to people that those people will then wear. We should take the time to recruit a model and the money to pay said model and a photographer to shoot them, so we can show the clothes modelled on a person. Lets do all of that, but intentionally search for, recruit, clothe, shoot and edit the photos for someone so much smaller than the clothes we’re selling that they cannot physically wear them.”

    Next week, will they have toddlers modelling jeans for straight-size women? With the cuffs rumpled around their ankles and the waistband under their armpits? Or will they hire a plus size model to show off how tiny their straight-size clothes are, and have her insert an arm into a leg of the jeans?

    1. Toddlers modelling jeans for adults? Why not?

      Seriously, this reminds me of a comic strip I used to read. I used to love it. But one “episode” just really got my goat.

      A ten-year-old girl has a laundry issue, and so she needs to borrow a pair of her mother’s clean panties. She goes into her room to try them on, and then calls out to her mother, asking for safety pins, or something like that, to take the panties in, because they are too big for her.

      The mother, standing outside the bedroom door, burst into tears that her panties are larger than those worn by a TEN-YEAR-OLD CHILD, and her husband comforts her by promising to buy her a stationary bike.

      There had been jokes about a teenager being SOOOO upset because she gained eight ounces (she’s still growing, but who cares? She wants to be thin!), and other various sizist jokes, but that one just really blew me away.

      The thing is, they already use teens, who have not yet finished growing, to model adult clothes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they’re starting in on pre-teens. Children and toddlers as models may be hyperbole, but not by much. And using such young, unfinished models not only gives women a completely skewed idea of how they should look, it also gives off a seriously creepy, pedo-vibe. Ick.

      The mysterious “They” want us, especially women, to focus all our energies on disappearing from view. This means that they won’t have to deal with us, because 1) they won’t be able to see us, because we’re dead or invisible, and 2) we’ll be too busy using all our energy on changing our bodies to have any energy left to accomplish anything else.

      That’s my conspiracy story, and I’m sticking to it.

      1. Your conspiracy is real! From Susan Bordo’s “Unbearable Weight” to Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth,” many have connected the same dots that as women grow more powerful, society demands that we shrink ourselves physically and intellectually.
        Of course, fat men also suffer from the insistence that they disappear themselves, but many of the works I’ve read deal exclusively with society’s view of women, so I don’t have a great handle on how these stressors are related to men.

    2. “Next week, will they have toddlers modelling jeans for straight-size women?”

      It’s kind of already happening. Last year a NINE YEAR OLD model was dubbed “The most beautiful girl in the world” (what?!?) and she models for clothing brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Armani:

      …Let’s wrap our head around that. A NINE year old not only is recruited to model for WOMEN’S size clothing but some messed up people actually branded her “the most beautiful girl in the world”. That’s extremely F-ed up.

    3. You know… i think I like the idea of the plus sized model putting the clothes on her arm to show it off. Maybe even just holding it up. Maybe then people would understand when we say it is hard to see what it wouldlook like on us.

  2. 30 inch waist is a 5x!?!? I’m almost double that, those sizes are ridiculous! Like you’ve said before, ragen, how are we both in the middle of an “obesity crisis” but still no products are made for all sizes?

  3. This is a brilliant post 😀 I laughed out loud a few times – I love the way you keep saying: “(or, as I like to call them, sizes)” So true!!
    And I laughed too when you said “(*cough* Abercrombie *cough*,)”
    Your posts are brilliant, so full of common sense and humour. The world would be much better off if everyone read your posts every day 🙂

  4. I think their reasoning for this sort of marketing, instead of having large models modeling large clothes, is the classic, “EWWWW! Nobody wants to see that! Everybody knows that fat is UGLY! And there is ONLY ONE UNIVERSAL STANDARD OF BEAUTY!!!!eleventyone!!”

  5. Same $h!+, different WAY of slamming plus people (or as we like to call them, PEOPLE). Bizarre ad, thoughtful and engaging op-ed; thanks.

  6. Gwinnie Bee does rental/sales of good clothing modeled by women of size–expensive, but real. And Zulilly models clothes online that fit persons of size. They pop up on my computer all the time.


  7. This summer my husband I traveled to other parts of our state (California) as well as Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and I was heartened to see that the statistic seems true that at least 60% (or is the number now actually greater?) of North Americans’ weight exceeds the “recommended” BMI (Bullshit Measuring Instrument). Companies that insist on offering clothing only in small sizes will soon–if they have not already–notice that they are missing out on thousands of sales and are harming their bottom line. I envision that, in the not too distant future, glamorous clothing stores will be compelled to sell clothing in larger sizes, if just to make ends meet, and this will help in expanding (no pun intended) our culture’s view of what looks “normal.”

    1. Speaking of expanding our view of what looks normal:

      I am fan of the computer game, The Sims. I’ve loved the Sims franchise right from the get-go, and I’ve noticed a few things about body size/shape.

      In the original, you could change your body size/shape just by changing clothes. It was all linked to the clothes, and didn’t matter, in the slightest.

      In Sims 2, They had “fit,” “normal,” and “fat” body shapes, and it is sort of hard to tell the difference between them, to be honest. It’s all very subtle, and almost all in the belly and bottom area. Face shape doesn’t change. Fat is perhaps a size 12 or 14? And that’s as far as it goes. However, Sims 2 also introduced turn-ons and turn-offs, and both fat and fit can be chosen to be either a turn-on OR a turn-off. It’s not automatic. Heck, you can be attracted to both, at the same time (you have 2 turn-on slots, and one turn-off slot). The programmers may not have gotten that people can be VERY large, but at least they did understand that attraction is not subject to a universal standard! I love that!

      In the Sims 3, they introduced the sliders – sliders for both muscles and fat, so you can be thin and weak, fat and strong, and anything in between. I love that! And the fat can get to be pretty large, as well. Another thing (people called this a glitch, and put out mods to “fix” it): Whatever body type your sim started out with, it tended to go back to it. Yes, you could change your body size with diet and exercise (eat too much to gain size, exercise to lose it), but if you didn’t keep up that regimen EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of your sim’s life, they’d ease back into their previous size! Like in real life! As for attraction, it’s all behind the scenes now (no choosing your turn-ons, or even seeing what they are), but it seems to be all about zodiac sign, skills, and character traits, without regard to physical features, at all.

      In the Sims 4, the sliders are still there, and are more specific, so you can have top-heavy, bottom-heavy, or whatever. I haven’t played Sims 4 long term, so I don’t know how well long-term weight-loss can work in this game. But I do like playing with a sim whose body type actually reflects my own. And again, the sims don’t have a universal standard of beauty. At most you get, “Eh, this sim doesn’t float my boat.”

      I really do love being able to play fat sims, and having them NOT face the stigma I face in the real world. I love being able to post these sims online, and give other simmers the chance to see sims of varying body shapes, and that it’s OK. The more exposure people have to a variety of bodies, the more people will accept a variety of bodies. Exposure via games, comics, cartoons, costumes, books, TV shows, movies, and real life cultural icons are ALL good.

  8. I highly recommend Making It Big (, as a mailorder catalog/website delivering extremely high-quality and lovely clothing for women of size. Big big sizes, big big models. They even recruit models from among their clientele on occasion. Yes, the clothing is expensive, but it will last for years. I’ve got sleepwear from them that is over 30 years old, jeans that are 10 years old, it’s all natural fibers, and their customer service is always excellent. Once we find companies that treat us well, we need to encourage them with our money, even if we have to save for a while to afford it.

    1. Bookmarking this! They seem pretty expensive upfront, but if they last 30 yrs, it’ll be worth it. Do your jeans/pants from them wear out in the crotch area? That is my biggest problem with pants. If they didn’t wear out there, I could continue to wear them.

      1. I’ve ordered jeans from there and the knees wore out first, followed by the waistband. They are now literally falling apart, but the crotch and inside thigh area are both still intact. They are more than 15 yrs old and I’ve worn them a lot!.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.