Plus size, minus a few years

More retailers to offer larger clothes for larger kids, analysts predict.


Lynn Harris
September 12, 2007 7:14PM (UTC)

Let's say you're too young for Torrid, yet too "husky" for Gap Kids. Where can you get nonlame clothes that actually fit?

Until very recently, the answer was, "In your daydreams about being one of the Bratz." But now, Reuters reports, clothing makers are starting to respond to a growing demand for cool plus-size clothes for preteen kids. J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Sears already carry plus sizes for girls and boys; retail analysts predict that more stores and brands will jump on the bigger bandwagon. One designer, Renee Forbes, launched her own plus-size girls line, Jellybean of Miami, when she found that clothes for her heavier 8-year-old daughter either fit or were cute.

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Reuters cites the latest statistics: As of 2002, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 16 percent -- and counting -- of children ages 6 to 19 are overweight.

That's a lot. And indeed, some will no doubt grouse (as they have about Torrid) that "encouraging" fat kids with cute clothes, making them comfortable the way they are, will only make those numbers go higher -- that not being able to button one's jeans, or having to skulk into the super-size section of Wal-Mart, might give these kids a little motivation.

Or not. As Wendy Shanker, author of "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life," has said, "It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, right up there with the idea that if you 'punish' people by charging them double for airplane seats they'll be motivated to lose weight -- uh huh, let's just make all the chairs smaller so everyone will be skinny. Weight loss is not motivated by outside sources. You don't lose weight by tough love, whether from your mother or your local clothing store. It's a personal choice, and a difficult choice -- and if I can't do it for myself, I'm not going to do it for the Gap."

We practically make kids swim through a sea of Hot Pockets and Big Gulps, and then, surprise, when they get fat we make life hell for them. The hell of shopping in the first place, and feeling like you look crappy in everything you buy, doesn't help. Broadly speaking, if anything's going to help plusser-size 'tweens feel and be healthy (aside from liposuctioning the word "'tween" from our national vocabulary), it's helping them feel good in their own skins. Whether or not it helps them lose weight, it's the kind of thing that could help them say, "Hey, I'll have some carrots instead of some Combos ... 'cause I'm worth it."

Well, not to worry. They're all on the Fear of Being Called Fat Like Britney diet now anyway.


Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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