Yes, It’s Wrong To Charge More For Larger Size Clothes

the fat tax on clothingWhen fat people try to get clothes that fit us, there are several levels of oppression that we might face:

No Clothes For You

The first is companies and lines who simply don’t bother to make clothes to fit us. They know fat people exist, they are fully capable of making clothing in larger sizes, but they just don’t.

We’ll Take Your Money, But Keep Your Fat Ass Out Of Our Store

These are companies that make our sizes, but don’t carry them in the stores – this even happens in stores that specifically cater to larger sizes (ie: Lane Bryant sells “extended sizes” or, as I like to call them, sizes, only online. Their lingerie brand, Cacique, doesn’t fit sizes larger than a 28,  but instead of expanding their sizing up, they decided to expand it down to serve the population already served by almost every other brand that exists.)

Not only is this dehumanizing, it’s expensive. Sizes aren’t consistent, even within individual brands, and it’s often hard to tell how something will look on you until you’ve tried it on (especially since many “plus size” models aren’t even big enough to fit into the clothes they are modeling.)  So instead of going into a store and trying on four different pant/shirt outfits in three sizes each to find the right one, we would have to pay for all 24 items upfront, and pay for shipping.

The Fat Tax

The fat tax happens when they charge more for clothing in larger sizes. People (including some fat people – internalized oppression is real) tend to bend over backward to justify this, but it is simply wrong.

Defenses include that it’s more difficult to make larger “women’s” clothes. It’s more fabric, blah blah blah bolt size, blah blah blah whatever.

The idea that larger sizes should cost more because they are currently more difficult to make is literally charging fat people a penalty because the fashion industry built all their systems and processes around not bothering to clothe us. We’ve always existed, and we’ve always existed with less access to clothing.  Fixing that is the right thing to do, charging us more to fix a history of exclusion is not.

When it comes to extra fabric, I think it’s hard to defend the idea that size 00 -size 14 are the same price, but a size 16 should cost $15 more due to the extra fabric.

But don’t just take my word for it, reader Dayna R (aka @knitwrit15) did the math:

A 12/14 is not so much different than a 2/4. Don’t believe me? I ran the numbers. Size charts from clothing companies vary vastly, so I’m using the Craft Yarn Council size chart for women.

Assuming XS is size 0-2, the L would be size 12/14. The difference between the waist sizes is 34 minus 24, so 10 inches. If waists were perfect circles and the two circles were overlaid using the same center point, the difference in radii between the larger and smaller would be 5.41 minus 3.82, which is 1.59. So there’s only a 2” difference from the edge of one waist to the edge of the other waist. That’s a total of only 4″ if a point on each circle were aligned with the other.

If I were sewing a pair of pants for these two sizes, I’d add 2.5” to the four seams of the XS to fit the waist of the L. There’s a 10-inch difference in the circumferences of 3X and L, so it’s the same as between XS and L.

It’s not that much at all.

Even if it was a lot, it’s still not right. The actual solution here is incredibly simple, and it’s easy to implement because it’s what they are already doing for so-called “straight sizes” – which is to take the cost of each size, and average it across all sizes so that everyone pays the same amount for the same piece of clothing.

Fair is fair and just like a size 00, 5, 10, and 14 should (and do!) all pay the same price, so should people who are sizes above that. It’s time for people who happen to be smaller to stop feeling (and being) entitled to more and cheaper clothing that those who happen to be larger, and it’s time for those selling clothing to stop penalizing us financially as part of their process of no longer excluding us.

David’s Bridal has already gotten rid of the fat tax, other brands, lines, and stores need to follow suit.

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4 thoughts on “Yes, It’s Wrong To Charge More For Larger Size Clothes

  1. Once, I bought my mother a size 14 sweater for her birthday, unaware that (thanks to that aforementioned sizing inconsistencies) she needed a 16 at that particular store. I still remember the poor befuddled employee who did the exchange and thought the significant markup was a mistake until I explained plus size pricing. Even then, she just mumbled, “But it’s the same shirt! It’s the exact same shirt!” through the rest of the transaction, occasionally holding them up for scrutiny, as if she could see what made one of these identical garments cost so much more than the other if she looked hard enough. All I could do was agree it was pretty silly.

  2. One year, a thin friend and I both participated in a writing competition. My t-shirt was two or three dollars more expensive than hers. Being used to this sort of thing and sometimes too tired to fight, I sighed and rolled my eyes. She is the one who ended up saying something about it.
    Thin allies, we need your help too in changing the way things are. I was so appreciative that day of my friend standing up and doing what I just couldn’t at that moment.

  3. I’m so used to it I hardly notice. What I HATE is when they say things are On Sale and it turns out they marked UP the item first, then “dropped” it back to regular pricing for the “SALE”. Flaming bullshit!

  4. I always consider the line ‘it’s too hard to make clothes for fat people’ as sheer laziness. Once you figure out the measurements, you got to KEEP USING THEM! Okay, I get that machinery is not designed to cut a wide variety of measurements, but once you have it, YOU CAN KEEP USING THEM!

    I also don’t understand why it’s okay to make a metric ton of smaller sizes which you will eventually mark down to practically nothing, then probably dump in a landfill. How is that not a profit-loss?

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