Thursday, 31 December 2015

Trashgate, wider implications and brands who fail

Hiya lovelies.

I write this with a heavy heart, because I have resigned (if that's the right word) my Scarlett and Jo ambassador role. Why am I writing this post? Because I've spent more than half of the last day on Twitter talking to people about it (among wider issues) and I've run out of energy to tell people on other social media channels why I will no longer be a Scarlett and Jo ambassador.

I was thrilled to be chosen as an ambassador, and I cried with joy when owner Gifi Fields asked me. I wrote here exactly why it meant so much to me.

So why have I resigned? Where to begin?! My thoughts are so scrambled and I'm exhausted trying to unravel them and make any sense. I'm going to try to unpack why I'm so angry, and it's not all because of what happened yesterday. This has been building in me for YEARS.

Last night on Facebook a customer of Scarlett and Jo and a woman known to many on the plus size blogging scene asked a polite question of S&J head Gifi and got the answer below.

What transpired afterwards in the comments was utterly bizarre. Since then Gifi has said he did make the reply above to Janie, but alleges there were a couple of fake accounts pretending to be him trolling people later down the thread with sarcastic responses to their comments. When I was watching it unfold (after a couple of people alerted me to it in PMs) I was thinking to myself 'If that's really Gifi he's got to be pissed as a fart.'

Things kicked off on social media as you would expect, because (I think) plus size bloggers and every day plus size people are sick to the back teeth of fuckery from brands. It's bigger than Scarlett and Jo. It goes back months, even years. It's Pink Clove's hideous social media feed, who are repeat offenders of crap like this.

So you can't be the whole package when you're fat? Piss off Pink Clove. Your dresses are so short they barely cover my juicy fat arse and your social media team are deluded. Get a fat girl on it, stat.

It's Taking Shape's Skinny Bird Watching at LFW. It's all the built up resentment that the people who are supposed to be here for us don't get us at all, and worse, many of them are only in plus size clothing as a cynical money maker. They think 'Ooh, untapped market! Let's throw some half-arsed body positivity quotes at them alongside our barely-thought-through butterfly hanky hem designs and we'll be millionaires!'


It's shit like I'm No Angel, designed by Lane Bryant to stand against the homogeny of Victoria's Secret models, except they used models of exactly the same kind of proportions as VS in plus size form. Still hourglass, still no double chins, still negligible rolls, still hawking this elusive 'perfection' they want us all to aspire to.

It's Style Has No Size by Evans who used models of size 16 or less and told us it was diversity. O RLY? It was that other crap from an American plus size company who did a campaign to highlight women of up to a size 34 and then only did t-shirts to publicise it up to a size 28. I can't even remember which company it was or what their half arsed body positive slogan was. These things happen so often it kinda washes over me. One giant eye roll merges into another with little time to recover.

It's all these companies tell us 'WE VALUE DIVERSITY!' then showing us they don't. At all. Where are the size 32 models in plus size fashion campaigns (other than Scarlett and Jo - whatever you think of them they were groundbreakers in that respect). Come on Evans, Simply Be, Yours Clothing. Where are your size 32 models? Where are the visibly disabled people, the people of colour, the gender variant people? The apple shaped, in fact where is ANYONE who doesn't look like a model? This is not diversity. This is bullshit.

Do me a favour. Look at this.



Indie sellers get diversity, and I hope there are many more out there (than even I'm aware of) who champion the people big brand plus size retailers don't want to exist - you know, the super fat people, those with double chins, those with big drooping bellies, those who are hairy, who are gender variant, who are visibly disabled or otherwise 'not model material.' You know, MOST OF US.

I was expecting to wake up this morning and have a very contrite Gifi apologise unreservedly, swear off social media forever and apologise to Janie and anyone else upset by the comments he made. I believe he made an attempt at an apology but it's not enough. Actually, it's too much. Because all he had to say was 'I'm really sorry. I screwed up. I didn't mean Janie wants trashy fashion. I spoke in haste and I regret my actions.' (He meant something else entirely - fast fashion - but that's besides the point - the words came out of his keyboard and need to be truly apologised for). He could've left it at 'I know I've let down a community of amazing women and I'm sorry. I'm going to take some time away to consider my mistakes.'

But once again plus size women are left wanting more.

So yes Gifi, I'm angry and upset and I really pinned my hopes on Scarlett and Jo as the ONE big UK plus size retailer worthy of my support. I clung to you like a life raft because everyone else was a disappointment. The rest have lousy body-shaming social media, or are obsessed with diets, or who only value pretty young under-size-24 women, or who only deal with award winners or bloggers with 50k followers, or who fake body positivity to boost their sales. You were the one hope to wash away all that other shit and make it all OK. And now I find you're just as flawed as everyone else, and myself and so many other women who loved your company find ourselves adrift. You were the one shining star in UK fashion, you were the future. And for our own reasons, we all find your apology lacking. Do the right thing please Gifi. Give us someone to believe in again. This comes from a place of love as I still have so much respect for the one company to make me feel like FINALLY I was enough, just as I am. I want that for everyone and you were so, so brilliant at it. Please make a simple apology, from the heart. No ifs, no buts. And if you were genuinely trolled people will come around, they will. I didn't want to leave the ambassador program, but I had to because this is so much more than me and my feelings.

Give me someone to believe in. Plus size women SO need someone to believe in. We are so, so tired of coming last all the time.

Leah xoxo
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