Labeling Things is Hard! Responding to Melissa McCarthy

Guess who just liked Time on Facebook? This girl. So here’s this article falling into the whole body positivity craze: Melissa McCarthy Says Labeling Clothing as Plus-Size Tells Some Women They’re not ‘Worthy’. So let’s get on with this. If you’re wondering why I’ve focused on this, it’s because I’ve been seeing this fucking everywhere, which doesn’t seem like it’s going to have a good outcome if people start taking it seriously.

“Designers that put everyone in categories are over-complicating something that should be easy”

Melissa McCarthy wears a lot of hats: movie star, mother, comedian and fashion designer. And now that her clothing line Melissa McCarthy Seven7 is launching at multiple major retailers, she’s adding body positivity advocate to the mix.

Oh, yay. This just reminds me of the Childish Gambino line “Why does every black actor gotta rap some?” Except for it being a black actor inevitably releasing a rap song, it’s a female celebrity who isn’t stick-thin inevitably jumping aboard the body positivity train. This is why I like Adele so much. She was a big girl who made music and that was fucking it. She didn’t need to constantly talk about how she’s not skinny and that’s a-okay. She was just awesome and also fat and that second part didn’t matter and was never mentioned by her. Which seems like what people would want. You know, someone’s size not factoring into how they present themself. But nope.

The star’s main issue is with the label “plus size,” and how it feels when women’s clothing is segregated in stores.

So . . . much . . . dumb . . .


“How it feels when women’s clothing is segregated in stores.” Is it just me, or does this sound like the idea of an indie web comic about the Civil Rights Movement that substitutes different types of sentient clothes for the races? Could you get more melodramatic. Oh, lordy, lordy, segregation! Is she talking about departments. You know, those things that organize  clothing stores so that you don’t spend ten minutes trying to find one shirt?

And why is it only bad when women’s clothing is “segregated”? How about kids’ clothes or men’s? Or baby’s? How about the multiple sub-sections within those clothing departments?  Let’s just throw all the clothes together in a fucking pile Black Friday-style and let people pick their way through it. They’ll find what they want eventually. That’s the only way to be fair.

“Women come in all sizes. Seventy percent of women in the United States are a size 14 or above, and that’s technically ‘plus-size,’ so you’re taking your biggest category of people and telling them, ‘You’re not really worthy.’ I find that very strange,” she told Refinery29. “I just think, if you’re going to make women’s clothing, make women’s clothing. Designers that put everyone in categories are over-complicating something that should be easy.”

Nah duh, women come in all sizes, that’s why it’s way easier to “segregate” women’s clothing to help them better find the clothes they’re looking for because women’s clothing tends to be more diverse. How has this concept eluded you? Are you pissed off about shoes being organized by size too? “Oh, putting all the ‘wide’ shoes on the other side of the shelf with their own label makes the people with big feet feel bad!”

How does it tell people “You’re not worthy.”? Unless you have cripplingly low self-esteem, someone pointing out that you are big and require a large clothing size-scale shouldn’t matter. And, I get it, the “fat girl with poor self-esteem” is a thing, but the world is not required to cater to people who are made to feel bad about themself very easily. I’m sure double amputees are a bit self-conscious when they pass by the shoe section of a store, that doesn’t mean we have to just put the shoes with everything else without labeling them because someone somewhere may feel bad about the distinction.

I just think, if you’re going to make women’s clothing, make women’s clothing. Designers that put everyone in categories are over-complicating something that should be easy.”

That’s what people are doing. Oh my god. You do realize that making clothes isn’t easy, right? You’re apparently a fashion designer, so that’s something you should be aware of. Designers “put everyone in categories” because it is necessary when it comes to the practical issues that arise while designing and physically making clothes. That above statement is a statement made by a person who has no fucking idea what they’re talking about. It would be like someone saying, “I can’t believe you have so many job categories in the film industry! Making movies is easy, guys! You’re just making it too complicated with all of these sub-sections. Why do you need a sound mixer, why can’t the director do that? It can’t be that hard.”

Back to fashion: Plus-sized clothes cost more to make because they use more fabric, for example. For more obscure elements, clothing of different sizes have different seam-work done. Plus-sized clothes have to have more arm space and accommodate for a larger bust. Petite brands have to be stitched to taper inwards more so the fabric doesn’t hang shapelessly off the girl’s body. Misses sizes must be given a longer torso than Junior sized clothing. There are differences. And these differences must be taken into account by the people who are actually making the clothes because those differences often times effect the designs that can be done. It’s not easy.

McCarthy, who will appear in the upcoming all-female Ghostbusters, revealed that some “very big retailers” are going to help her “chip away” at how plus-size clothes are placed in stores. Her line comes in sizes four through 28 and includes basics, leggings, tees and loungewear.

Good for her. Do what you want, Melissa. On an off-not: the all-female Ghostbusters movie is probably going to suck. Just throwing that out there.

In June 2014 with Redbook, the actress shared her motivation for why she decided to launch her own line.

“When I go shopping, most of the time I’m disappointed,” the star told Redbook. “Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers—very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people—and they all said no.”

What does that have to do with clothing stores? Going to individual designers who probably don’t even make over-the-counter dresses and having them say no to you says nothing about your typical clothing stores that the average woman goes to. I don’t think McCarthy was going to The Gap or J. Crew.

(Those are the first stores I could think of? I’m a prep . . . Oh, God, I dress like a tool . . . They make good pants, dammit!)

So what does that have to do with anything? So high-level designers who the average plus sized woman will never meet wouldn’t make her a personalized dress. How about problems that the average women you’re sticking up for so much have? She hasn’t even mentioned that. The previous paragraph made it seem like she was going to talk about how Plus Sizes aren’t put in the front of the store or something, but nope. Not addressed at all. Okay . . .

And I kind of get them saying no. Designing dresses is, once again, a difficult thing to do. Lots of designers make dresses that wouldn’t be suited towards women of larger builds. They wouldn’t fit or just wouldn’t flatter their body shape. What did she want them to do, say yes and then give her a dress that didn’t look good on her at all because that’s not the kind of clothing they typically design?

Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could get her to rid the fashion industry of the phrase ‘skinny jeans’?

What’s wrong with skinny jeans? I like skinny jeans. They’re called that because they’re made to hug your legs, ie, they have physically skinny, thin legs. Fat girls can wear them. They do all the time. What is your fucking damage?!

What is McCarthy’s solution?

These clothing categories are there to make it easier to find your clothes, especially in women’s clothing, which tends to be far more diverse. Not to mention that different sizes are often differently priced, which would make putting everything together confusing for customers and just generally difficult to label. Are girls, junior, misses, maternity, and petite (all size distinctions as well) also unnecessary? Does having a section specifically for girls who are super short and super thin something demeaning to them? If not, do you just want a euphemism for the plus size section instead? Do you just want to call it the curvy section or something? That seems really arbitrary.

That’s what all of this is. Arbitrary.


4 thoughts on “Labeling Things is Hard! Responding to Melissa McCarthy

  1. What do you think of the ThInner Beauty movement? I’ve interacted with the community on Reddit and made a few quick posts defending them against blatant villianiziation, and by all appearances they’re just reasonable people who think HAES is doing way more bad than good and are trying to counter that while giving positive reinforcement and a goal to aspire towards. And it kinda seems to be working:

    Not that progressive media gives a flying fuck:

    It might be argued that the method is misguided, but Jesus fucking Christ. (Also, on a sidenote, they are working to transition to an all-verified-volunteer-based format.)

    • I haven’t heard of the movement until now. Just based off of what they’ve done at this website (!about/cazn) it’s a mixed bag. I like that they’re being positive and encouraging people to be healthy and all that. They don’t deserve to be called horrendous people by any means. I would agree that their method is misguided, though. Showing people what they would look like if they were thinner as an inspiration is fine by me. Something that plagues women with weight problems is the low self esteem caused by them thinking that it’s just impossible for them to ever be attractive, and I think that seeing something like a thinned-up version of themselves could help them and encourage them.

      Just looking at the photos up on that website, though, a lot of the photoshopping seemed totally unnecessary, just like the “let’s photoshop these thin video game characters to be fat!’ thing seemed totally unnecessary. They took women who were like size 7s and decided to equate that with being SO FAT that the person needed “inspiration” to be pretty. I don’t think putting people who are slightly chubby right alongside obese people and treating the two like it’s the same thing is all that helpful, especially when they frame it as being “more beautiful,” even in cases of photoshopping a fucking model who was plenty attractive already.

      I can’t imagine a girl with an eating disorder being helped out by either movement. You have the people saying that “fat is beautiful” who would just make the girl feel worse because “OMG that woman is a whale and they’re glorifying it, I hope I don’t look like that.” Then you have this, where they take people who aren’t even that bad off and act like they are, which seems like it would make said hypothetical anorexic girl say, “OMG I’m sill a fucking whale because I’m not skinny ENOUGH.”

      The intention is good. But, then again, the fat acceptance people also have good intentions.

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