I came across an article on prdaily.com that explained the current crisis surrounding Old Navy and the price of their female, plus sized clothing. As a public relations student and major feminist advocate, this particular incident has got me heated! But first, let me explain the crisis to you.
According to the prdaily.com article, Old Navy charges more for plus sized women’s clothing, but does not keep this practice when it comes to men’s plus sizes. This seems extremely sexist to me, and apparently over 24,000 others agree! There’s currently a Change.org petition urging Old Navy to change their ways when it comes to pricing female, plus sized garments.
In response to the crisis, spokeswoman Debbie Felix told The Huffington Post:
“Old Navy is proud to offer styles and apparel designed specifically for our plus-size female customer, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, which most men’s garments do not include,”
I think that this was an inadequate crisis response because it offers no apology and frankly, I think it was a poor explanation in general. If that was Old Navy’s rational then, in theory, all smaller sizes should be cheaper. And by that same logic, all men’s clothing should be more expensive because even the smaller sizes require more materials than equitable female sizes.
The fact that their response doesn’t really make any sense, makes this even more frustrating for the feminist in me. I feel like I’ve seen this so many times in the news and it’s just getting so old. Here’s the script: company has sexist policy, responds with a statement that a) doesn’t actually apologize and b) is just as sexist. It’s sexist to me to assume that women who wear plus sized clothing need “curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements,” but plus sized men do not.
It is also sexist to create plus sized clothing for women, but only if the clothing is “slimming.” It’s essentially saying “Yes, we offer clothing to fit men and women of all sizes, but women shouldn’t actually look big so we’re just going to use all of these ‘curve-flattering elements!’ Sure you have to pay a little more, but don’t you want to fit into beauty standards?” Pretty sick if you view this communication crisis through a feminist lens.
Hopefully Old Navy realizes that this practice is unethical and impractical sooner rather than later. One thing is certain though, their response was not good enough! What do you think about Old Navy’s body shaming crisis?