So a couple of readers have sent me links to articles about a recent episode of this BBC show, Mary, Queen of Shops, in which host Mary Portas goes to visit struggling shop owners to tell them why their businesses are tanking.
This week Mary Portas is in Ascot, Berkshire, one of the richest areas in the country with lots of wealthy ladies who lunch and shop.
They just don’t shop in Blinkz, and who the hell can blame them? The boutique caters for the curvier woman, but the size 10 owner Amanda is, says Mary, “size-ist”, referring to her customers as huge, sad, sweaty, misshapen bouncy castles.
Says the BBC site:
Mary is shocked by Amanda’s attitude to her plus-size customers, with the shop full of dowdy, baggy, unflattering clothes that most people, whatever their size, wouldn’t be seen dead in. As a result, nothing is selling and the business is in crisis.
Gee, ya think?
I am just fucking dumbfounded by this (and I desperately want to see the episode). I mean, I guess I know there are still sizeist idiots behind a lot of plus-size clothing retailers, given how much frumpy, fugly shit remains available to us, but having experienced LeeLee’s and Vive la Femme (and their lovely owners) firsthand, I just can’t reconcile “fancy fatty boutique” with “crass, idiotic attempt to tap a market you don’t remotely understand or respect.” Those stores are such labors of love for Lisa and Stephanie, respectively, it would never have occurred to me that someone would try a similar business concept without actually giving a damn about her customers.
The only clip I could find online was this little bit where awesome plus-size designer Anna Scholz gives Mary and Amanda a fashion show. It’s not great quality, but check out Amanda’s face when she says, “They actually look… slimmer with the more fitted things.” And again I ask, GEE, YA THINK? I mean, I know a lot of women don’t realize that oversized clothing actually makes them look bigger*, but to own a boutique and not comprehend this basic fact (which, not for nuthin’, applies to women of all sizes)? The hell?
You know, very little in the way of sizeism makes my jaw drop anymore, but for some reason, this totally did. I’m just stunned to see such a blatant example of what other retailers carry off a little more subtly: a business model that purports to serve fat women without treating them as human beings who deserve the same attention, quality, or respect as any other customers. A business model that assumes we poor, pathetic bouncy castles will buy whatever shit they offer us, because we have no self-esteem and few other options.
And frankly, though I’d be happy to see more Anna Scholz dresses out in the world, I hope Amanda Collins learned nothing from this. I hope the publicity she got from being on the show backfires completely, and no fat woman in the UK ever gives her another dime. I hope her business goes under. And I hope she feels like shit about it for the rest of her life. I am just that appalled by her, and just that petty.
*Looking bigger is not, of course, an intrinsically bad thing, and it’s entirely possible to rock the shapeless, if that’s what you’re intending to do. If it’s not what you’re intending to do, however? A fucking plus-size boutique owner ought to be able to help you understand what flatters your shape, for cry-eye.