Kudos to the Gap, if not Salon's journalist, for embracing larger sizes

"It's about time"

By Salon Staff

Published June 21, 2000 7:37PM (EDT)

Everybody in size 20
BY EMILY EAKIN (06/16/00)

I found Emily Eakin's article to be substandard to what I expect from Salon.com. Despite mentioning in her article the tribulations that overweight people have gone through to gain acceptance and recognition from the fashion industry and the world at large, Eakin chose to write her article from a snide, shallow New Yorker's point of view. "Fatties," "chunky," "pudgy," "portly" -- the author spent overtime at her thesaurus finding as many ways to express the childish, ignorant notion that fat is funny. Wake up -- it's that fascist, New York, gym-obsessed, eating-disorder attitude that will continue to make this country unpleasant for a very large portion of our population. All body types should be welcome and appreciated and I write that as a very thin, gym-going New Yorker!

-- Joe Rivera

Kudos to the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy for expanding their markets. It's about time women of more Rubenesque proportions were given the opportunity to don trendy styles. Eakin's article belittles the monumental possibilities that this opens up for so many women and teens wanting to "belong" in a world so wrapped up in fitting things into a size 2. There are more women size 12 and larger than there are 12 and under. Why not let them look good and feel great?

-- Danielle Cuff

I'll say one thing for the Gap's "quiet" expansion of its women's size range: It leaves journalists like Emily Eakin to deliver the message that generously proportioned women are tolerated, not prized, as customers. More upscale retailers offer much less subtle reminders: Zaftig women are welcome to pay a premium for plus-size designer clothes at Saks if we don't mind being banished to the store's top floor, the better to be invisible to more acceptably proportioned shoppers. (At Bloomie's, it's the basement.) As for those "semantically baffling" size labels: Why are they necessary at all? If sizes 14 down through 2 can peacefully coexist in a single department, why not just skip the insults and extend the upper end of the range?

-- Lois C. Ambash

What the Gap designers need to realize is that a size 14 is not simply a size 2 proportionately enlarged. Normal-sized women of size 10, 12 or 14 have HIPS and BUSTS. I can't tell you how many times I've tried on a large size blouse at the Gap and had it stretch over my C-cup or pinch around my arms. Not to mention the pants that, when they do fit around the hips, bulge out at the waist. The Gap designs clothes for the straight, boy-like bodies of teenage girls, not for women with curves.

-- Jennifer A. Wheeler

I'm not surprised to read that the Gap finds it necessary to raise their size range to 20. I've been a Gap customer for years, and during that time I've maintained a fairly constant size and weight, a ratio that puts me at a size 8. Or, I should say, it started as a size 8. Then a couple of years ago I found I was wearing a Gap size 6. Yippee! Did I finally lose those irritating five pounds? No, I still took size 8 everywhere else. Hmmm ... Then, last year I found that I am a size 4 at the Gap (and the Gap only). I took a closer look at their general sizes, and noticed that women's t-shirts are available in L, M, S, XS, and XXS! XXS? So the median is small? Clearly, the Gap is taking advantage of women's weight angst, and hypothesizing that women will feel better about themselves if they wear a smaller size (whether or not their bodies are actually smaller in size). So again, I'm not surprised to read that the Gap finds it necessary to raise their size range to 20. After all, that's the only boundary they still have left to push, unless they find a way to offer negative sizes of clothes. 'Course, then women will have to explain to each other that a -6 is actually SMALLER than a -2, it just sounds bigger.

-- Sandra Salamony

It's about time that the Gap and Old Navy are going to start providing larger sizes for women. But only up to 20? The most popular size in the plus-woman department is 22! (Trust me, I'm fat, I know these things.) The Gap can go up to 24, there's no shame in that. And the money they will make? Oh man! I better get ready to buy stock because the bucks are going to start rolling in.

-- Stephanie Woods

Salon Staff

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