As a teenage girl, my social media feed is flooded with a variety of posts covering different issues. These posts range from messages of body positivity and racial equality to pictures of young women wearing trendy clothing from brands such as American Eagle, Lululemon, Hollister, and Brandy Melville. While many of today’s popular clothing brands aimed at young people feature problematic fast fashion practices, Brandy Melville stands out in particular as a company that is harmful to the young female population towards which its products are marketed.
The first and most strikingly obvious harmful policy is Brandy Melville’s blatantly advertised “one-size-fits-all” sizing system. Though “one-size-fits-all” sounds like an appealing and easy way to shop for clothing, it is simply false advertising. One quick search on the Brandy Melville online store and it’s clear what “one size” they have in mind: a pair of jeans where the only option is a 26” waist and crop tops that say, word-for-word, “fits size x-small/small”. For a brand that claims to be made for young women, it is shocking to find that they have gotten away with flagrantly glamorizing the body image issues already so common in this population of people. The average waist size for teenage girls in the United States is 32.6 inches, yet those girls wouldn’t fit into Brandy jeans. Not only is this clothing company perpetuating the idea that “x-small” is the only acceptable and desirable body type, but it is setting unrealistic body standards that could lead to even greater body image issues. As many as 78% of American girls say they are unhappy with their body by the time they are seventeen. Brandy Melville markets their clothing to seventeen year-olds, and these girls being unable to fit into the clothing will only serve to make them more dissatisfied with their bodies.
In addition to promoting an unhealthy beauty standard, Brandy Melville is also cultivating a harmful culture of racism and unethical discrimination. Recently, a former Brandy employee posted a video on Tiktok, which detailed multiple incidents of inappropriate racial remarks made by the manager of this particular store. The manager went so far as to deny a job position simply because the young woman applying was Asian, not white. Brandy Melville is a brand that has repeatedly made efforts to hire and develop their brand based on the aesthetics of teenage girls and young women. If you don’t fit the desired, and typically unrealistic aesthetic, you’re unfortunately out of luck when shopping or seeking employment at a Brandy Melville store.
Gen Z has grown up in a world of media that shines a light on Eurocentric beauty standards and skinny body types, while shoving other races and builds into the shadows. It is a toxic world of never feeling good enough and Brandy Melville gladly perpetuates that toxicity. A clothing brand should aim to make their clientele feel confident and powerful, not fat and ugly. Brandy Melville has undeniably failed in that regard.
It can be difficult to find clothing companies made for young women that are affordable, sustainable, and inclusive. That is the sad reality of teenage consumerism. However, in order to begin taking steps in the right direction, it is important that brands like Brandy Melville are boycotted and held accountable. As consumers, we must expend more effort into finding brands that truly aim to make everyone feel confident and beautiful.