Ethical buying and consumerism. Its a concept that has grown rapidly and something we have probably been doing unconsciously for most of our lives as customers. I’m sure so many people out there already subscribe to an ethos when they purchase their clothing, but I must admit that whilst I do it with my grocery items, I’ve never done it with clothing – until now.
Today I have decided that I am going to buy ethically for Body Positivity.
As we all know, one of the major issues in my Body Positivity advocacy is to encourage sporting brands who stock sizes 14-up to actually feature athletes 14-up in their gear. As someone who has previously worked in fashion and retail for many years, I know that by doing this, they will not only have people running to their stores or jumping online to buy the product they now know will fit them, but brands become immediately more relatable.
This was particularly the case when a mainstream brand such as 2XU Australia did it with an image of me in my tri suit and subsequent sponsorship. Within an hour of posting the image of me on their Instagram account, this was exactly what was happening. People were posting comments such as “I have been searching for ages if plus size can wear 2XU Australia clothes as I never see pics of anyone plus sized. So thanks to you I am going to brave it and buy some.”
Since then some great brands such as Lola Getts have been happy to support me on this journey with great visibility of me in action on their social media, and there are other great plus size brands doing the same thing with other fantastic plus size athletes. I wholeheartedly believe it is time other mainstream active wear brands who stock larger sizes need to come on to the party – because in all seriousness, why wouldn’t you promote the fact that you catered to plus sizes? Unless we are like the embarrassing sibling you walk three metres in front of so people don’t assume you’re together. Until then, I am taking my ethical athletic gear money elsewhere. And lets face it – I’m a triathlete – all we spend our money on is GEAR.
So what has lead to my new-found clothing cash freeze? I won’t give the specifics because I am not into brand shaming, but recently I reached out to a brand whose items I have been wearing in training and recreationally for over ten years now. I contacted them because I wholeheartedly believed in their product and believe that they could benefit from featuring their product ranges that go up to a size 22. I wanted to explore the option of me providing them more exposure in the plus size performance wear market, and I figured that given they had ranges that catered from sizes 6 to 22, body diversity amongst their customer base would be something to be celebrated. There I go with my rosy-coloured body positive glasses on again.
The response I got was friendly and the ‘thanks but no thanks’ that I was used to by now. I was invited to tag them in my social media posts and they could potentially be endorsed if my posts fitted within their social media guidelines of which I was not made privy.
Now this is only one of a gazillion responses I have received of this nature. But what made this one different to the rest? I found myself and my friend whom I disclosed this correspondence to giving them the benefit of the doubt, understanding that they would indeed have very brand-specific promotional guidelines that would need to be adhered to etc etc etc….But why isn’t body diversity part of their brand-specific identity? Fair enough if you stock sizes 6 to 12, but to produce items from sizes 6 to 22, why isn’t athletic diversity considered something you would want to shout from the rooftops?
So now I believe it is time my consumer dollar does the talking for me. I understand that celebrating body diversity is relatively unchartered territory for many brands, and that it seems you also get smashed for whatever effort you make to do so, but until then I believe I must withhold my money from your purses. Not out of spite, but because I would rather direct my money toward a brand who WAS celebrating the physical diversity of athleticism that we so desperately keep asking for. Its time we reward the brands who are paving the way to make it easier for you once you decide to jump on the diversity bandwagon. Which means I must run as I need to go and find myself a new pair of swimmers.
What about you – do you buy for Body Positivity?