Olivia’s Opinions: Body-Shaming Boutique?


Olivia Janicek, Spear Contributor

Olivia’s Opinions is a new column breaching AraphoeXtra’s stream. I’m all about asking questions and investigating the trending topics of our time. You may not agree with my view, but hey, that’s the beauty of a column…and the comment section. All I hope is you take something away from my articles; a bit of laughter and a bit of new thoughts. 

Over time, people have been compelled by their self-image. An eagerness to improve it and an eagerness to prove it to others. Not that there is any urge for people to do so, it just seems that most of society has grown accustomed to doing so. Clothing has always been a major factor of self image and plenty of people refer to fashion magazines as a source of the ‘ideal body image’. In fact, 80% of women say that media (magazines, movies, television, and advertising) makes them feel insecure about their body image, (Health Research Funding). Nevertheless, America has grown in their values, and many brands promote a healthy views of body images and encourage women to accept themselves for who they are. Not every brand can boast such an accomplishment. Remember Mike Jeffries, the former CEO of Abercrombie? He turned a clothing company into a contreversial conversation topic after saying, on multiple accounts, body-shaming remarks. Abercrombie has changed their ways and are becoming more accepting as the years go on, but a newer age brand is on the horizon, and their future isn’t as promising.

Meet Brandy Melville. An Italian company that showed up in America a little more than five years ago. It’s not as widely known in Colorado, as it only has one store in the state located up in Boulder. However, on the West Coast, Brandy is a household name to teenage girls’ closets and has an immense cult following on social media (over three million followers on Instagram). While walking down Arapahoe hallways,  I’m actually a fan of Brandy Melville as I admire their prices and their fashionable styles, however, I do question a few things about the teen-chic-brand.

The most commonly addressed issue is that most of their clothing comes in one-size with the exception of jeans and a few other pieces. It’s not just the small size, it’s also the style. The brand boasts mostly crop tops, tube tops, and other skin-showing articles. Lots of tween and teen girls alike adore the fit, but parents, usually don’t. Looking for something outside of the brand’s image in the store is highly unlikely. Everything is the same… and often for the same type of people. It practically prohibits those who don’t fit the guidelines of the brand from shopping there. (My athletic-figured friend doesn’t even bother shopping there). But what is the brand though? Does Brandy really mean to build such an image? Take one glance at any of their social media platforms or their website, and your question will be answered. The photos posted on their Instagram feature ultra skinny white girls with long hair and a straight piercing smile. They often sport crop tops, high waisted pants, skirts, and other outfits from Brandy Melville while in a cute/artsy setting. Scroll through every image and you’ll discover a scary likeness between the models and the photos. Promoting healthy body images? Debatable…

But see, that’s more than a social issue, that’s an economic issue in our midst. In America’s age of democracy and acceptance of equality, people don’t have a high tolerance for discriminatory brands. Not to mention, most of America isn’t stick skinny and long legged. In short, most of America won’t be shopping at Brandy Melville. Similarly, even if one does shop at Brandy, there isn’t much to shop for. Everything in store is the same. A simple, cookie-cutter style of fashion that isn’t quite willing to change. If they continue to lack such a craving of change as well as an acknowledgement to all sizes, they’ll fall short and their customer range will dwindle. 

The photos posted on their Instagram feature ultra skinny white girls with long hair and a straight piercing smile. Promoting healthy body images? Debatable… ”

— Olivia Janicek

HOWEVER… I can’t dismiss the brand in total. Their customer base IS growing as more people discover the brand. I have to include myself as a new, loyal customer. Despite my disagreement with their values, I like their clothes and more significantly their prices. They’re stylish, simple, and most pieces are in the $20 range. Most of their clothes, as long as their appropriate, are perfect for a day at school or a day of vacation. Many Arapahoe students don’t disagree with me. In the hallways, I’ve seen other girls sporting identical outfits to my own and other clothes iconic to the Brandy style. And I have to say, for now, I am a returning customer. I even visited their newest store (the only one in Colorado) up in Boulder. Normally, a small selection of their clothes are available at Nordstrom and PacSun, but the store makes that look like pocket change. Shirts (organized by hue) lined the walls, while pants, dresses, and sweatshirts were also on display. I have to say, the shop was certainly a delight to look at, and nothing was out of place. The employees were somewhat friendly but once again, looked like the cookie-cutter image of a Brandy Melville girl. Still, I enjoyed myself, found some excellent new school clothes, and didn’t break my bank. (though my return trips might…) So, I admit, I do enjoy their clothing. Though no matter how much I adore my shirts from them, I can’t ignore the fact that their values are simply not up to today’s standards. America is about diversity, and I think if Brandy Melville wants to grow to the size of its competitors (American Eagle, Forever 21, etc…) it needs to represent that.

In short, Brandy Melville’s clothing isn’t bad quality, at least not for the price. I’m always satisfied with my purchases from them. Still, Brandy Melville needs to re-evaluate. While it doesn’t seem like they’re planning to, the west-coast brand needs to reconsider who their target audience is and how to grow it. If they want to truly become a brand, they need to promote all body-images and expand their ‘one size’ rule, to an all size.