It’s one of the more memorable moments in film from the past 25 years — when Julia Roberts’ lovable hooker character, Vivian, in Pretty Woman is turned away from an upscale Rodeo Drive fashion boutique by two snotty saleswomen because she’s dressed like the hooker she is, despite having her sugar daddy’s (Richard Gere) wad of cash to spend. Later, when she’s all dressed up like a prim and proper lady, she goes back into the store that rejected her and lets them know they made a big financial mistake (“Huge,” in fact) by not letting her try on their clothes, which they claimed not to have in her very-slender size.
Plus-size women and hookers are hardly one in the same. But plenty of plus-size women might be able to relate to Vivian in that they’ve walked into clothing stores, only to be turned away in humiliation after being told they don’t stock clothes in their size. It happened to me once in the tony Hamptons on New York’s eastern-end of Long Island. A witchy saleswoman smirked at me, gave me a once-over, and told me I’d need to go downstairs — an area she implied all whales must be outfitted — to find the same clothes in my size.
Is any brand of clothes or retailer really so flush with cash that they can afford to pick and choose who they want to dress — and exclude those who they dislike aesthetically? Look what happened to Abercrombie & Fitch after their PR nightmare last year when their CEO admitted plus-size people don’t belong in their clothes? Or the CEO from Lululemon and Thighgate ’13?
Maybe the models who show off the brands in ads are ideal of many, but the reality is that clothes comes in all different sizes because no two bodies are exactly alike. The frustrating thing for larger size women is walking into a store and seeing only Size 0, 2 and 4 on the rack — because so often the salespeople humiliate us into asking if they make or have the clothing in larger size (as opposed to just stocking their shelves in the true range of sizes) — and then walking out when we feel defeated and sometimes even ashamed when they don’t.
Hooray for The Clothes Calling Card! We first read about it over at Mamamia — it’s a campaign where you can buy a business-card size piece of paper (or print them out for free on their website) and leave it in a store where they didn’t make your size readily available or apparent. They will know exactly how much money they lost by leaving your size off the rack or the stock room.
“Please let me give you money. If you had things in size ____, I would have spent $____.”
“This shop wouldn’t take my money. If they had things in size ____, I would have spent $____.”
While the card is designed with larger women in mind, it’s really meant for anyone who has a hard time shopping, as one of the card’s inventors said they’ve heard from smaller women who are sheepish about having to buy clothes from children’s stores. This isn’t about revenge shaming; it’s just about creating more win-win situations for the clothing stores, retailers and sales people who work on commission, as well as the people who just want an equal opportunity to decide for themselves if they like their own reflection in the mirror.
The Clothes Calling Cards aren’t about calling name or hurling insults, although maybe to the retailers’ bottom line. But if that’s an unintended consequence, that’s actually OK, too; let it hurt them where it often hurts so many others (although a little more literally for the former and figuratively for the latter) and maybe they’ll learn a little faster to be a little nicer to everyone.
Images Credit: Clothes Calling Card
More from Meredith on Babble:
- Why and When It Really is OK to Tell a Woman She’s Fat
- SUDC: The Lesser-Known Cousin of SIDS About Which More Parents Desperately Need to Know