Brandy Melville from a teen's and a mom's perspective
I have to be honest, I knew nothing about Brandy Melville until my tween started talking non-stop about it and asked me to take her there because she was "dying" to shop there like her friends do. I, of course, listened to endless chatter about how cool it was and how the nearest one was in San Diego --which is an hour away from us--(she Googled it so she could locate it). So, I did what most tween moms would do. I said, "Sure, let's take a weekend trip and check it out."
We called the cousins to join us for our little shopping trip to the south and set out on our adventure with four eager teens in tow (ranging from fifteen to twelve). My nieces are all beautiful young women ranging in age, style, and personality; all of them had heard about this shop and were also eager to go scope it out with us for the first time too. My daughter had mentioned in her many chats that it was an O/S or "one size" shop, but I wasn't honestly grasping that and thought maybe she was misunderstanding the sizing or the concept she had heard, but after about five minutes of walking into the store, I realized she was spot on.
At first glance, the shop seemed cute and like any other fast fashion tween/teen retailer with fun music playing, cute salesgirls and loads of other mamas and their eager tweens. The tweens roaming around giggling and holding up shirts while heading off to the dressing rooms in hopes to find some new clothes. I quickly realized this wasn't your average shop. Brandy Melville clearly caters to a very small range of tweens and teens (who, in my best guess, would have to be under a size 4 to fit into their clothing comfortably, let alone at all)!
My beautiful daughter is only 12. She's about 5'4" and over 100 lbs now with a budding (not yet bust). She's slim with strong legs from dancing and your average-sized 12-year-old girl. It was hard-pressed to find much that I would deem wearable for her or much that would actually fit her outside of the "oversized" sweats and a handful of tees. She didn't even try a pair of their button pants or jeans because she said "they wouldn't fit" and I have to agree with her on that. She did find a few tops that were stretchy and cropped (not my favorite) but, I agreed to let her purchase the handful of items she found. My other two nieces (who are twins) are completely different. One isn't really into fashion. She would rather buy Legos and games with her money than clothing any day. The other is very petite and the clothing, while it did fit her, was a little too revealing in most styles for her liking so she settled on only three items. Which included a pair of sweats, a tee, and a cardigan. That left my 15 year old niece who's 5'4" and wears a size medium.
We chatted together about how ridiculous the store was to only offer O/S and how even the oversized stuff wasn't all that oversized. So, it's still not a true one size fits most which was pretty upsetting, especially to a tween and teen girl. I put myself in their shoes at that age. I wouldn't have been able to wear much of anything in that shop at all, was I overweight as a teen? No, but I was surely not a 0-2 and rail-thin like Kate Moss back in the day.
I can't help but be disgusted by a shop that offers such small, limited, and very specific sizes that are not inclusive of today's young girls. It truly makes me wonder if this isn't causing a new wave of tween and teen eating disorders to fill those "Brandy" versions they so desire to fit into? Thankfully my nieces are very body positive as is my own daughter and they laughed off the small sizes at lunch while we ate local burritos followed by The Baked Bear ice cream sandwiches. Because, hello, we were in Pacific Beach and burritos and ice cream are a must. Regardless, my mama heart still couldn't let it go. While on the drive back, I chatted with my eldest niece and asked her for her true thoughts on how the shop made her feel.
Below is her contribution to this blog and I'm so very proud of her for coming into the office and helping me with this post.
Brandy Melville has set the trend for the "ideal" teen body, but just how ideal is it really. Brandy only caters to one type of body that would have to be between a size 0-2 and have about a 24-inch waist. For me, I go into Brandy Melville and have to laugh at the sizes. Most of them look like they could fit a doll, but I know for some girls it isn't that easy.
It was very eye-opening into the world of Brandy Melville and just how one size it really is. Looking back on my middle school-self, I know that this store would have really gotten to me. The brand is targeting girls at their most vulnerable and insecure state, ensuring that they will have to buy their clothes to "fit in". Brandy has set an unrealistic body type to imagine and it's scary that girls think that is how they are supposed to look. I feel that this store is pushing eating disorders, because how else are you supposed to realistically fit into the clothes? It is definitely aggravating walking in there and seeing that only 10% of the clothes could fit me. I can't even begin to imagine how the girls who can't fit into any of it feel. The clothes at Brandy don't take into account that we have bones, we eat, and we are living human beings. Although I am very body positive and I don't really care what size I am, it is definitely disheartening to not be able to fit into their clothes because, after all, I am a teenager. All of my friends wear Brandy and regardless of what I say, I do want to fit in. Obviously, size is just a number and it does not define you, but sometimes it feels like it does. What is very upsetting is the fact that the top question asked about Brandy Melville on Google is, "Can I fit into Brandy Melville?" It is truly sad to see that this is what society thinks a teenager should be. No girl should ever feel like she can't fit in because of her size or what she looks like. Society's beauty standards are unrealistic, sick, and twisted. I feel bad for girls walking in there, like myself. I wear a medium in juniors, and that's the average size of a teenage girl. Walking into stores like Brandy Melville makes us feel bad about ourselves like we aren't thin enough or pretty enough. As a young girl, it is definitely hard to feel confident when stores like these exist. Personally, I don't let it get to me too much because after all if my friends don't want me for me then I don't want those friends. For others though, it is hard to let stuff like that go, as a young woman it can feel very lonely and I understand that feeling. The last thing you want to do is be different from anyone else.