What is the Fat Tax?
Posted on May 04 2021
Hi hello! Spring is in the air here in Calgary and there is a lot of new things to share from The Curvy Shop!
Since we last spoke, we launched Canadian designer Hilary MacMillan and have a selection of pieces that are perfect for Spring along with her collection of varsity jackets that are sure to empower anyone! My “Femme Fatale” jacket is on its way and I can’t wait to show you in an upcoming try-on video!
We also submitted our petition to LOFT and Ascena Retail Group executives with over 1,000 signatures on it! A HUGE thank-you to everyone who has supported the petition so far. It is still open on Change.org if you have not yet had a chance to sign and share.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about plus-sized fashion and various ways that plus-sized folks are subtly and overtly discriminated against.
You may have heard about the Fat Tax that gets applied to food – in other words, charging more money for foods and other products that are deemed “unhealthy” in Diet Culture. For example, in Denmark, they introduced a tax on foods that contain more than a certain percentage of saturated fats. India introduced a tax on certain foods served by international fast food chains.
But how does the Fat Tax work when it comes to plus-sized clothing?
Essentially, the plus-sized consumer is charged more for an item in plus sizes when the same item produced in straight sizes sells for less.
Many brands try to justify this pricing by claiming that the item costs “more to produce” because of “all of the extra fabric” they need to make plus-sized garments. As a Chartered Accountant, let me be one of many people to call B/S on this. It is a pretty simple cost accounting exercise to spread your manufacturing costs equally across ALL of the sizes you produce. Also, using that brilliant logic, wouldn’t producing a Size 2 cost a lot less than a Size 14? At what point do you draw the line and decide to “tax” a larger size?
(Side Note and a little Accounting 101 for y’all: When you’re producing more products to be truly size-inclusive, you can also allocate your fixed costs…things like rent, utilities, executive salaries, etc…across a higher volume of units. But I digress - we are here for the fashion!)
This article from Business Insider was published about two years ago, but the issues noted sadly still exist today. Despite all of the progress made in plus-size and size-inclusive fashion, we have a long way to go!
Back in March, Alicia Gilby, the force behind @curvy_chronicles, found that Old Navy was charging higher prices for plus-sized items compared to the same item sold in straight sizes. They were also offering a sale with significant discounts, but only offering these discounts on straight-sized women’s clothing. The same issue was not found with men’s clothing.
So Alicia took action and started a letter writing campaign, encouraging people to contact Old Navy directly to demand that they cut their Fat Tax. She’s created a handy template so it’s easy peasy for you to send a letter directly to Old Navy and ask for change.
(P.S. If you are not following fellow Canadian Alicia, you should be! You can find her on Instagram @curvy_chronicles. I love how she takes plus-size fashion to the next level with beautiful colours and prints!)
I went to Old Navy’s Canadian website this week to check out if anything has changed. Sadly not.
Here is one example where plus-sized women are being charged more for a dress, and also not being offered a discount or sale price. This Sleeveless Ruffled V-Neck Swing Dress is offered in XS to XXL. Regular price is $44.99 and had a “Daily Deal” offering a sale price of $17.90. Ironically, it’s also being modeled by plus-sized model Stella Duval.
Here is the same listing in the “Women’s Plus” section on Old Navy’s website. You can see that the same dress, modeled by Tabria Majors, not only costs more at $47.99, there is also no sale offered.
When I dug a little deeper, there were certain items that were being offered at 60% off. These were in Women’s and Men’s clothing only. The fine print reads:
Not only are plus-sized women being charged MORE at full price for the same item, we also are not being offered the same discounts and sales as straight-sized customers. This is also especially uncool when you consider that plus-sized folks generally earn less than straight-sized folks, so we’re having to stretch our dollars a lot farther to clothe our bodies in fashionable attire.
How hard is it to just show ALL of the sizes offered in the same dress at the same price? It would be awesome to log into an online platform like Old Navy's, which has a TON of inventory, and just see one women's clothing section, not segregating plus-sizes from straight-sizes.
What Can We Do About This?
I’m so glad you asked!
We all vote with our dollars and we can support brands that are TRULY size-inclusive, like Universal Standard, Girlfriend Collective, etc.
I’ve also included the links above to Alicia's templates so that you can write to Old Navy directly and demand that they change their pricing practices. Activism works!
What’s Coming Up in May?
So many things! We are excited to have partnered with new brands including Universal Standard, 11 Honoré, Unique Vintage and more. We will also be adding new items for Spring like puddle-friendly footwear from Keds, fresh dresses from City Chic and summer-ready swimwear!
Be sure to follow us on all of the socials @shopthecurvy and watch your inbox for sneak-a-peaks.
Until next time, be well and stay fabulous!
Aymie – The Curvy Shop