Opinion: Not so stylish: Brandy Melville promotes unhealthy body image in girls

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Graphic courtesy of Caroline Peabody '22

Maren VanOsdol '22, Staff Writer

Brandy Melville has made a monumental impact on teenage fashion: 90’s t-shirts, crop tops and plaid mini skirts is something almost every teenage girl (including me) can get behind. I say almost because it seems as Brandy Melville only caters to women under 100 pounds.
Their clothes only come in extra small, small and one size fits all (which is small).Their misleading “one size fits all” policy belies the fact that you can only shop there if you’re thin enough.
Given that the brand is targeted specifically to teenage girls–providing the thrifted, vintage look that has become increasingly popular– it’s understandable that there are concerns over its size exclusivity. The brand’s “one size” typically correlates to a size zero, with waists around 24 to 25 inches. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) numbers in a 2016 study suggested the average waist size for females between 13 and 19 years of age is 32.6 inches. That’s a delta of over seven inches if you’re keeping score.
In 2013, the CEO of Brandy Melville released a statement regarding the sizing, “… you walk into a store and you’ll find something, even if it’s a bag,” showing how little the company cares about other body types or body positivity. It seems as if the company’s morals have not changed since 1970 when it was first founded.
Not to mention the lack of diversity in the models. Looking at the website and Instagram, all the models are the same; exclusively white, blonde hair, extremely thin. This is the type of girl Brandy Melville wants shopping at their stores. If you’re able to fit into the one size fits all policy it’s something to subtly brag about just by wearing it around, even if you don’t have that intention.
This only encourages eating disorder culture/behaivor and discrimination to different body types. And the fact that it’s gained immense popularity only pushes these ideas further. Many know what the brand stands for yet blow off the issue with sizing and continue to shop there.
I went to a Brandy Melville store while in Toronto just over a year ago. Upon my first impression I noticed all the workers looked extremely underweight, to the point where I was concerned for their health. I proceeded to struggle to put on a pair of pinstripe pants. Checking out I carried guilt for buying clothes that could barely fit me, knowing they would likely be unwearable in less than a year. Regardless, I kept my mouth shut and my parents spent a significant amount on clothes that, in my heart, I knew would not be wearing for too long.
In a generation that knows the importance of self love and body positivity, supporting Brandy Melville throws all of these ideas out the window.