The “Plus-Size” Label is Going Away

Melissa McCarthy (right) is designing clothes in extended sizes for women size 14 and above without the plus-size label.

Melissa McCarthy (right) is designing clothes in extended sizes for women size 14 and above without the plus-size label. Photo: Diariocritico de Venezuela | FlickrCC.

A few stores like online retailer ModcCoth and even J.C. Penney are beginning to do away with the “plus-size” labels on the clothing they sell. ModCloth announced recently that it’s going to do away with the label in a bid to promote more inclusivity on the site. Soon, customers will be able to find all the sizes they need using a filter called “extended sizes,” which will also include petite, tall, and other variations.

“ModCloth’s mission is to help women feel like the best version of themselves, and we believe this is another way we can promote inclusivity,” says the site’s co-founder and chief creative officer Susan Koger.

ModCloth decided to remove the plus size label after reviewing the results of a survey it conducted with its customers. 1,500 women participated, aged 18 to 35, who wore a size 16 or larger. Most of them—60 percent—said that they were embarrassed about having to go to separate stores to find items in their size. The respondents said they would rather find their size in the same section as regular sizes.

Actress Melissa McCarthy created her own clothing line in response to the need for clothing that comes in extended sizes. She too dislikes the term plus size, arguing that “women come in all sizes. Seventy percent of the women in the United States are a size 14 or above, and that’s technically ‘plus-size,’ so you’re taking your biggest category of people and telling them, ‘You’re not really worthy.’”

McCarthy, star of both television and film and beloved by pretty much everyone, has herself struggled to find clothing that suits her. “When I go shopping, most of the time I’m disappointed,” she says. “Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers—very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people—and they all said no.”

The actress is now in talks with several large retailers to help provide more options for female shoppers.

Getting rid of the “plus-size” label is a good thing. The term creates a thick distance between women, elevating some and pushing others into the shadowy corners of a store’s third floor. Sizes should all be kept together, for ease as much as for inclusivity. It’s tremendously annoying to find an item you like in one place and then have to go scampering off to an entirely different section to see if they have it in your size.

“We believe all women should be seen and celebrated equally,” says ModCloth. “It’s time to represent.”

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