My letter to Forever 21+
My name is xxxx xxxxxx and I am from xxxxxxxxxx, XX. Yesterday I was looking online for trendy plus size clothing and having a hard time finding cute outfits that wouldnt cost my entire pay check. I was directed to Forever 21+ by Google.com and looked through the online catalog. I absolutely loved what I saw and then looked to find one in town. Today I went to the Forever 21 located on xxxxxxxxxxx. I had never been to a Forever 21 before and I was absolutely baffled and crushed by what I saw there.
After searching the entirety of the expansive first floor without assistance, I moved to the upstairs. I found the plus size line in a dark corner on the far right side of the store. I walked in and felt ashamed. The Forever 21 areas WITHOUT plus size clothes include white walls, floors, and ceilings, bright lights, jewels strung from each end of the store, pictures of models accompanied by large fonts of “Love” and “Beauty” posted on every wall, and mirrors around every corner.
Upon entering the plus size area of the store I was greeted with NONE of the above. The plus size area of the store has 2 rows of dim track lights and a black spray painted unfinished ceiling to go with it. There was 1 mirror in the entire section that was roughly a 18 inches wide and 6 feet tall, the walls were completely bare, no models or complimentary words plastered anywhere, and in the farthest away corner they could have placed it in.
I was disgusted by this. Why is the feeling of the plus size section of the store so incredibly different from the rest of the store? Why is the paint job and design not only different, but absolutely non-existent? The lack of decoration, lighting, and atmosphere made me feel like I was doing something shameful that shouldnt be seen when really I was just trying to get cute clothes. The only other stores I have seen this shaded and tucked away in corners are sex shops, due to the fact that no one wants to be seen or associate with them. Is this how Forever 21 as a company views plus size consumers? As shameful or something that should be kept quiet and unseen due to unwanted association?
And to make it even worse, the only way to the second floor is on an escalator that is not more than 20 inches wide. So not only do you hide your plus size fashion section in an unlit corner, but you make it impossible for larger women to even GET the the clothing anyway. You carry a size 3X (typical hip measurements between 48 to 54 inches wide) but will not provide a way for the women looking for that size to get to it.
In addition to the presentation of the plus size area being shameful and cave-like, there were ZERO employees that wandered through this section of the store for the 45 minutes I was stood there. Upon leaving the store however, there was at least one employee devoted to every section of the non-plus size areas, asking people if they needed assistance, reorganizing clothing, or just smiling and saying hi.
I did not spend ANY money in your store though I found clothes I really loved, needed, and would have gladly purchased had it not been presented so poorly. I even went through the effort of trying on sweaters over my own clothing, there were no signs to dressing rooms in the plus size section so I, along with 2 other women, had to take turns looking in the mirror and pretending to be okay with this process. I felt like I was at Goodwill, not at a retail store in a high end mall.
“Plus-size clothing makes up only 18 percent of the women’s-apparel industry’s total revenue, despite the fact that 64 percent of American women are overweight (and others are too tall, muscular, and/or big-boned for a size 10).” - http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/10/forever_21_renames_its_plus-si.html
Your company is part of the minimal 18 percent that actually supplies plus size clothing, yet you make it a shameful thing. Why carry this line if you have to put it in a cave with no lights, decorations, or atmosphere? Clearly there is little value in your plus size shoppers, so why even waste the space? This email doesnt even begin to explain the humiliation, shame, anger, and frustration I experienced at your store today. I dont know that I will ever step foot in a Forever 21 ever again, and I will direct my friends, family, and every contact on my facebook/twitter/and tumblr accounts to other stores who arent plus size-shamers and give their shoppers the common decency of feeling like a valued customer.
I am a fat woman, hear me roar! This is bullshit and Im not having it! Spread the word, yall. There is no reason for curve-bashing like this in my opinion, and Im gonna tell them all about it.