Despite the increasing demand for diversity within the fashion industry, many of the popular fast fashion brands that we often shop at don’t have many sizes for plus-sized women.
In a TikTok video, a well-known influencer named Samyra, who often makes content advocating for more size inclusivity, informed viewers just how much work many plus-sized and curvy women have to do just to find an outfit that fits them in stores.
She showed the disappointing reality of shopping for plus-sized items at popular clothing stores.
For this social experiment, Samyra traveled to five different clothing stores, including Forever 21, H&M, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Old Navy, and Fashion Nova. At each location, she’d ask one of the store employees if they carried plus-size options, and how far they went up in sizes.
The answers at each store grew increasingly bleak as Samyra received the same answer at the first three stores she traveled to.
At Forever 21, when Samyra asked if they carry plus-sizes at this location, she was told they didn’t, but their location in Northridge, California did, however, that location was an hour away and not accessible. Next, she went to Victoria’s Secret PINK and was told that the largest size they carry is an XXL, which was also the same response she got at H&M. Samyra pointed out in another TikTok video that an XXL isn’t plus size at all.
“What I’m talking about is the difference between an XXL and a 2X,” she explained in a follow-up video after receiving criticism for pointing out that an XXL is not inclusive.
“They are cut from two different models,” she continued. “An XXL is still a straight size. It does not account for curvier hips and the shapes that come with a larger body, but a 2X does. An XXL is not made to be plus-size.”
Continuing on her excursions, Samyra went into Old Navy next and was given a more hopeful answer than the last three clothing stores. At this one, a store associate informed her that they do carry plus sizes, with their largest being a 3X. When Samyra began looking through the options, however, she was only able to find XXL’s.
According to The Wall Street Journal, in August 2021, Old Navy launched a new size-inclusivity rollout for their merchandise where they used new technology to design garments that would fit across all body types.
Unfortunately, the brand ended up pulling all of its plus sizes from its stores because they had sold out of middle sizes and were stuck with either too many of the very small or very large sizes. Many consumers reported being frustrated when they’d show up at a store only to discover that their size wasn’t available.
Samyra ended her experiment at Fashion Nova, where she was told the brand only carried plus sizes online, which she pointed out was incredibly frustrating for plus-size women who wanted to be able to shop for clothes in person.
Samyra acknowledged that many of these clothing stores have ‘shattered’ the confidence of many plus-sized people.
Following the discouraging reality that many of these popular chain clothing stores don’t have many sizes for plus-sized women, Samyra voiced her exasperation with many of these brands and their lack of inclusion.
“It’s not me trying to tell us to accept the small sizes that these stores have, it is me trying to instill the confidence for some of us to even walk into the store,” she stressed. Samyra even pointed out how many of the comments on her original video feature stories from people who had their confidence absolutely “shattered” by these brands because of how they were made to feel as if their body types were abnormal.
According to a poll obtained by The New York Post, in a survey of 1,000 people, at least two-thirds (67%) of people admitted to the struggle of finding clothing items that fit their body size needs. On top of that, almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they find themselves feeling frustrated when searching for an item to accommodate their needs.
“What doesn’t feel good is when these companies cosplay as inclusive,” Samyra continued, calling out Victoria’s Secret and Aerie in particular for claiming that their sizes are made for all women, but it’s not the reality when she gets into the store to search for them.
Throughout her experiment, Samyra’s message was extremely loud and clear: these popular clothing retailers are failing plus-sized individuals, causing a profound impact on their confidence and self-esteem.
“We are not made to fit clothes — clothes are made to fit us,” Samyra strongly stated.
Plus-sized women deserve not just a seat at the table but diverse options for comfortable and stylish clothes, just as women who don’t wear plus sizes have the luxury of receiving. Samyra’s eye-opening exploration of these popular brands proves that it’s time we start holding the fashion industry accountable for their lack of inclusion.
Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.