This weekend I found myself sighing at several plus size brands attempts at PR. Bonmarche grabbed my attention when Rad Fat Feminist called them out on Twitter in the following tweet.
Hey @bonmarche, you’re a fashion brand; one that stocks plus sizes and works with plus size bloggers (including myself in the past). What are you doing promoting dieting and weight loss? #fatactivism #fatacceptance #sizeacceptance pic.twitter.com/UHgxYnRFj9
— Rad Fat Feminist (@radfatfeminist) March 29, 2018
Bonmarche sell sizes 10-28, and this weekend they took to Facebook to advertise their newest competition. In order to win a diet book, they wanted to know why their customers wanted to ‘turn back time’, the name of the book. The comments are nearly all about dieting, women wishing they could lose weight, or go back to a time when they were smaller in size. It’s a truly depressing sight.
To see a plus size brand essentially encouraging their customer base to lose weight, it breaks all our hearts at She Might Be. Women spend so much time being told how they should look, how they should change, that they aren’t good enough, shopping at a plus size brand shouldn’t add even more doubt and questioning to anyone’s lives. Shopping for clothes should not come with health advise, or diet culture embedded within.
Bonmarche could arguably be considered a plus size brand for the more mature women, they tend to focus on staples, rather than following fashion trends, with a lot more midi lengths and sleeves featuring in their designs that other brands. For them to be feeding off of the insecurities of people who have quite possibly spent their entire lives feeling not good enough is so inappropriate. For many younger plus size women, social media has been an amazing creation that has helped us learn to love ourselves, but for the older generations who didn’t have other visibly fat babes loving themselves to look to, that journey is barely starting.
Now to be fair to them, Bonmarche did issue an apology… if you can call ‘Sorry if you were offended’ an apology. The competition is still up and running and they appear to have no intention of reconsidering their promotion of diet culture.
It is just not good enough when plus size brands are promoting dieting to their customers. Bonmarche tend to use very thin models, who are predominantly white. In fact, in 2018 I could only find one repost of an influencer on their instagram, a white, straight blogger. Before this, it was July 2017, and again, another thin, white influencer. This pattern clearly shows what Bonmarche think of the majority of their customer base. Their competition is incredibly problematic, but looking at their social media raises so many other questions.
Who do a brand who sell sizes 10-28 only focus on the very lowest end of the spectrum? Why are their models almost entirely white? Their Instagram is one of the least inclusive brand social media accounts I have seen in a long time. At first I thought this post would be just about their mess of a competition, but with very little digging, I realised that the reality is, that Bonmarche have very little interest in actually highlighting their customer base at all. Far from a single damaging post, their whole social media presence is alarming in it’s focus on a singular type of female form, thin, and white. Bonmarche need to step it up and totally revamp their entire social media. They need to consider their impact on the psyche of their customers, and ask themselves if they really want to promote one type of beauty. I know I don’t want to buy from a brand who do.