By Bella Zafer
Artwork by Abbie Ryan
Am I a hypocrite? I love the clothes but hate the message. What should I do?
You walk into a store. You glance at some clothing and see something you like on a perfectly polished mannequin positioned in some obnoxious, impossible pose that no human being has ever actually made. You check the rack to find your size only to realize that this task is pointless. There are no sizes. Each item of clothing mocks you with the simple yet agonizingly coy embroidered phrase, “One size fits all.”
If you have ever stepped foot in a Brandy Melville store, you have experienced this. This popular Italian brand with a SoCal vibe that has won the hearts and wallets of many young girls has recently been targeted for their controversial sizing policies. A poll sent to the whole St. Mary’s high school reported that almost 50% of students said they own Brandy Melville clothes. Out of these students, 61% said they have had trouble finding the right size. However, only 10% of these students said they would not buy from Brandy again.
These results are proof that there is something about the brand that keeps their adolescent customers coming back for more. Whether it is the stack of aesthetically pleasing pictures of sun goddess-like models that comes with each package, or the ironic assortment of inspirational stickers, something they are doing is working. Lily Curlin (10) explained that, “They are trying to build an image around their clothing. They know exactly what they’re doing. They are trying to filter out who gets to wear their clothes.”
I must admit that I am one of these customers who wears their clothes (the ones that I can find that fit me) while simultaneously disagreeing with the message they are spreading to young girls. While half of the girls at St. Mary’s wear Brandy Melville clothes, the survey had students consistently using words like “terrible,” “frustrating,” “inappropriate,” “degrading,” and “discouraging” when describing the brand’s “one size fits all” policy.
For example, an anonymous student responded with, “I think Brandy Melville's sizing scheme is ridiculous. The whole theory is tailor-made to one size only — skinny, somewhat tall, small chested, and tiny waisted. It’s almost as if they're saying ‘you have to be exactly what society expects you to be, otherwise you don't get the privilege of wearing our clothes.’ It’s absolutely ridiculous. I feel extremely passionate about my loathing for this brand. Thank you.”
Many people have even used social media to voice their opinions on the subject. St. Mary’s juniors Isabel Campos (11), Blaise Burbank (11), and Mia Jones (11) even made a humorous Instagram account that spreads the very important message that “Brandy girls eat bread too” (@brandygirlseatbreadtoo). Isabel Campos said, “If girls want to eat bread, then they should not feel ashamed to.” The account consists of girls eating bread while wearing the infamous Brandy Melville apparel. By doing this, these girls represent prime examples of upstanding girls who love the clothes, but want to support positive body images.
Are we responsible for boycotting a brand we enjoy wearing because of the negative message it may spread to others? I personally go back and forth about the answer to this question, and I am not the only one. Campos, a regular Brandy Melville customer explained, “The brand caters toward my specific body type, so it is easy and convenient for me.”
This conflict between morality and materialism is not a simple one. While I definitely disagree with the claim that “One size fits all,” I am not going to lie and say I will never make a Brandy Melville purchase again. This sounds hypocritical, but at the end of the day I feel like I am confident enough in my ideals to be able to wear something without representing their message.