A Full Figured Failure

It has reached my ears that a certain New York based female fashion designer of long standing who has always advocated female empowerment does not practice what she preaches. I realize I sound like those Page 6 gossip columns but I don’t care. She has distinctly let the side down.

Where’s the girl power here?

An assistant manager was transferred from the Seattle store to the Manhattan flagship because of her great sales record. Her numbers were legendary. She was, I suppose (although I’m speculating here), thrilled to be asked because she promptly transferred her life to the East Coast and set about putting an equally successful sales strategy in place in her new store.

One day, the internationally revered designer popped into her flagship, to cast a proud look around her empire, pat herself on the back for building a career from scratch without the aid of any man (well, maybe a little, but people forget), stalk about admiring her merchandise and priding herself in dressing every shape of woman for any role with ease and glamour, maybe while running over in her head her latest speech on ethics and injustice in the industry. Okay, I’m speculating again.

She may just have had a few minutes to kill between meetings and needed to use the loo.

Either way, in she popped.

After a few minutes of running her finger along the racks for dust (okay, now I’ll stop),  she beckoned the store manager to her. She told her to get rid of the new assistant manager.

Why? I hear you gasp.

The new girl was overweight.

In NYC, it is increasingly common to be asked to present a head shot with job applications for retail positions but what happens from the neck down goes generally unchecked––until you’ve gone and packed up your life and flown to the other side of the country.

Healthy sales figures, yes, welcome. Fuller figures, no. You know where the door is.

The poor store manager, now placed in a horrible position, tried to save the new girl the only way she knew how. By encouraging her second-in-command to join her in training runs as she prepares for the upcoming marathon. But the assistant manager didn’t fly across country just to do some cardio.

A crappy position all round, I think you’d agree. But then what do we expect? As Stanley Tucci’s character put it in The Devil Wears Prada:

“That’s really what this multi-billion dollar industry is all about, isn’t it? Inner beauty.”The-Devil-Wears-Prada-0054

My debut novel Silk for the Feed Dogs, set in the international fashion industry, is now available. You can buy it here.

24 comments

  1. OMG — I am so pissed on her behalf. What about celebrating all sizes of beauty?

    “Do not include personal information such as age, gender, height, weight, marital status, photos,
    etc. It is illegal for U.S. employers to make employment decisions based on certain attributes or
    preferences of applicants. If you share this kind of information in your resume, you may actually
    discourage an employer from contacting you out of fear of future legal problems.”

    I see grounds for a lawsuit – or at least a “Very Big Separation Package” moment depending on how pissed the girl is feeling. Especially if this a publicly held company.

  2. Oh I hear you, Dievca. I’d be furious.
    Unfortunately I’ve seen the kind of discrimination happen so often and it is rarely pursued legally. The most unmoderated industry in existence, fashion. There’s usually enough grey area and no one can prove grounds for dismissal. But this incident I’ve heard from those on the inside.The poor girl from Seattle won’t hear the real reason though. It’ll be something about staff quotas or cuts or not understanding the dna of the company or “restructuring” is always a fallback…

    • Ahh– I thought she knew. Makes a difference. This is where subtle guidance and help to a new, unique position is called for~ perhaps, ShopBop? Based in Madison, WI — still sharp but based in the Midwest. More forgiving, perhaps? Not a designer driven, but seems to be fun.
      I am guessing at the designer and if it is who I am thinking of — she has been known for dressing curvaceous and statuesque Women….

      • I bet the poor thing just wishes she had stayed in Seattle where she was doing great before headhunters jumped into her life and filled her head with ideas of uprooting to New York city!

  3. Disgusting! I was once told by an exec that he “couldn’t hire so and so because she’s too attractive.” It’s pervasive, accepted, and sickening that women are judged according to their looks.

    *skin is crawling* – people treating other people like trash is so upsetting to me!

    Beautifully written, though, love. To end on a loving note at least. 🙂 XO

    • Thanks Allison, Stanley Tucci sure is a loving note. Cuddlesome 🙂
      it’s offensive and most especially because it’s between women. It seems so ill advised too. Shouldn’t your sales staff represent all women? Business 101. Apart from the basic human empathy aspect which fashion rarely indulges in, let’s be honest. Sometimes business advancement is more important but they’re missing the point on every level here!
      …Shakes head in dismay…
      (up to the roof for another bunch of herbs and some zen…)

  4. Yes! Inner beauty! At the very least, women should stand up for each other – have your back in other words!

  5. It sounds so absurd to be funny…if we weren’t talking about a real person.

  6. As an industry it is a traveling circus of absurdities…oh, but don’t get me started!

  7. I suppose different industries have different expectations, but this still seems intrinsically wrong to me. Jx

  8. Bizarrely, everyone else, clients and management in both coasts, thought she looked fine until the designer popped in!

    • A very astute point. It’s always the designer! The one who’s making a name for her/himself by supposedly making women feel good about themselves actually makes women feel worse. What a can of worms you’ve opened up! 🙂

  9. Interesting how some people just love the power to destroy other people’s lives. I don’t know who the designer is, but I suspect that she has more than enough money for several lifetimes. What else to do to feel relevant and powerful but to play god? Pretty disgusting. But a lovely post by you, and thank you for writing it.

    Being overweight myself, stories like this are salt in the wound. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to accept my body type … pear-shaped. When I was a teenager I practically starved myself in the hopes that my hips would become boyishly slim, like so many of the models in Vogue. I repeated the practice when I was in my late 20s. Fortunately my husband likes my hips as they are (I’m sure that’s one reason why I married him). And, yet, I still see the “ideal” as being sans hips and wafer thin physiques. Although now when I (rarely) leaf through Vogue and some other fashion mag, breasts and cleavage seem to be in. I just can’t win 😉

    • Tis a wise man that knows a good thing when he sees it.
      Funny how our “ideal” is rarely what would pass for our man’s ideal woman. Good job we don’t achieve our ideals then or chances are we’d lose our men!
      It seems to me though that the current busty appearance still seems to boil down to breasts on a skeleton though… I was watching a documentary called Unzipped last night and Cindy Crawford was in it and it struck me how large she would be beside today’s models. And yet she was gorgeous.
      Thanks for your comment. There’s so much in it worth posting about.

      • I do find it strange that models of my generation probably wouldn’t make it onto the pages of Vogue today. I still remember when Twiggy was a big hit, but she was also an anomaly. She was supposed to be unique (in my recollection anyway), and much of the focus seemed to be on her eyes more than her figure. I blame technology for some of the more ridiculous trends in models’ physiques … amazing what one can do with Photoshop 😉

  10. UGHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I can’t even…..thank you for sharing this, though, because it’s important for all of us to know these stories and do what we can to advocate for women! Women come in all shapes and sizes- did the Dove campaign teach people nothing!!?!

  11. and the thing is, in the fashion industry, that sort of thing has been going on since the year dot and will continue to do so forever.

  12. I know…but I was newly shocked by the designer in question. I guess it’s all a marketing ploy and we the fools buy into it. That make me even more raging against the machine!

  13. As sad as this is, I am not surprised one bit this happens. It infuriates me that things like this go without much persecution or hoopla! Fashion IS for everyone, and yet history has been witness that, it would be that same kind of designer, that would potentially drag themselves to the edge of mental instability in their glory of name/fame/money, that they would not feel worthy of owning their life anymore, while also having destroyed the confidence of many more innocent and well deserving women on the way.Irony is life comes a full circle. and Karma really is a B***h.

  14. Hung Tran

    This is awful. I have my speculations about who this designer may be (I’ve also heard some pretty strange practices in the model casting room, if my guess is correct). Thanks for writing this. And thanks for always keeping it raw and honest. Fashion needs to be tied more firmly to the ground, more often. It’s embarrassing that this is still happening. In most other industries, I would hope, this kind of blatant discrimination would be fought without a second thought.

  15. Stepford designers, Stepford staff…Stepford customers? xxx

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