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Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Blogging and Body Image

Hi Everyone!

I've been thinking about this post for a very long time, so I finally decided to get it out.  My retail personal shopper had been encouraging me to start a blog long before I did.  Each time I mentioned a J. Crew item by name, she'd say "you should start a blog, you'd be really great at blogging."  I kept thinking that it was a great idea.  Secretly, however, I loathed the idea of taking pictures of myself and putting them on the web, but not because I don't like my body.  I'm comfortable in my own skin and I LOVE my body.  No one else can love my body for me.  I'd love to lose 10-20 pounds, but a rare neuromuscular disease often prohibits me from doing strenuous cardiovascular exercise.  So, I try to watch what I eat and move as swiftly as possible when I have the energy to do so.  Growing up, I was a size 4.  Medication changes significantly altered my weight.  Things are under control now, thank God.

I want to be careful here.  Loving my body doesn't mean that I don't struggle with my weight at times.  Recently, for example, when I stopped by my J. Crew retail store, I had one of those "I wish that I was a size smaller moments" because a number of the pencil skirts I looked forward to adding to my wardrobe aren't offered in my size.

It's no secret that I love J. Crew clothing as evidenced by the title of this blog.  I've written here and other blogs about my frustration with the recent sizing offering inconsistencies at J. Crew.  Here's an excerpt from a recent letter that I sent to the J. Crew leadership team:

J. Crew is undoubtedly my favorite store.  I LOVE J. Crew clothing, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.  Indeed, 99% of my wardrobe consists of J. Crew items.  I eagerly anticipate J. Crew new arrivals so that I can add quality, beautiful pieces to my wardrobe.  Recently, however, I was extremely disappointed to learn that I cannot purchase many of the items I desire because they are not available in a size 14.  The most recent J. Crew catalog insists that the J. Crew No. 2 Pencil Skirt will be a clients’ “most noteworthy wardrobe addition.”  I am excluded from adding multiple styles of this wonderful pencil skirt to my wardrobe because they’re not offered in size 14s in certain patterns.  Sadly, the following J. Crew pencil skirts won’t find their way into my wardrobe:  the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Gardenshade Floral (style #64008), the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Medallion Paisley (style #72585), the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Terrazzo Tweed (style #65088), and the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Eyelet (style #76229).  I can list others, and I can recall other pencil skirts from previous years that weren’t offered in a size 14. 

I am delighted that the solid colors of the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Double-Serge Wool and Double-Serge Cotton are offered in a size 14.  Moreover, I recognize that patterns such as the “Fanfare” are also offered in a size 14.  I sincerely hope that the J. Crew leadership team will offer ALL patterns of the No. 2 Pencil Skirt in a size 14.  I know that I’m only one customer, but I purchase every J. Crew pencil skirt that is offered in a size 14 at full price unless my retail personal shopper tells me that the color/pattern doesn’t work for me.  Moreover, I sincerely hope that size 14 skirts will be offered in retail stores. 


J. Crew pencil skirts are amazing; the colors, fabrics, and quality of these skirts cannot be duplicated.  Let me be clear—I do NOT want to shop anywhere else. 

I wonder if eliminating size 14s from most of its skirt options can be traced to Jenna Lyons's recent proclamation that J. Crew is trying to become a "high" end retailer.  I'm still thinking through my frustrations about the lack of size 14 skirt offerings at J. Crew, but I'll end this post by saying that I hope the J. Crew leadership team actually does something about this size exclusion.  I know that I'm only one customer, but judging from how quickly size 14s sell out, I can't be the only person feeling this frustration.  Perhaps we can trace the speed with which these sizes disappear from the website to the company ordering low quantities in the first place.  Who knows?  I still think that it speaks volumes about the demands for this size.

What do you think about the sizing issues at J. Crew?  And, what do you think about blogging and body image?  Do tell!

Thanks for stopping by!



12 comments:

  1. very good post!
    i always had issues with beeing petite.there were times(before they had the xxs),i was sized out too and some of the tees and dresses looked oversized on me.
    for years i have struggeled with my self-image and height.now i have come to accept it and love it.

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  2. Great post Rynetta! I LOVE that you are so honest and I think that the blogging world benefits from all shapes and sizes and colours (and tastes!) - makes it all the more relavent. I am certainly no size 2 - am usually a 6 or 8 in J crew - and I gotta say that i tend to follow bloggers especially who are close to my size as it gives me a good sense of what the item will look like on me, especially since I do not live near a jcrew!

    As for Jcrew and stopping now at 14. I just do not get it. I think it is short sighted and insulting and assumes that women of whatever size don't want to look chic. I encourage you to keep the dialogue up with them and when next I chat with my PS, I will mention it to her as well, as I know they pass these items on. I thought of you the other day as I got my chili skirt and the paris pink factory lace one and both were lovely and I know you were interested in both and I can understand your frustration! So glad you are part of the blogsphere!

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  3. Great post! I totally understand where you're coming from. For most of my life I was a sz.14 and I struggled to find the styles that I wanted in the size I needed. I'm also fairly tall, so sleeves and skirts being long enough was also an issue. I have a feeling you've hit the nail on the head with J Crew trying to phase out larger sizes because of the image they are trying to create and promote. I think their rationale is that couture brands don't do larger sizes so they shouldn’t either. But not smart if you ask me. A sz.14 customer spends $$ the same way a sz.2 customer does. And despite the aspirations, J Crew is still a mall store that needs to remember that despite women coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, their money is all the same in the end. Taking away the variety of sizes (petite, tall, sz.14, ect……) is taking away profit in the long run. How many people shopping at J Crew fit into their small ideal body shape? If they decide to only cater to a small selection of the “right” size customers they better be prepared to only receive a small select profit as well.

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  4. Rynetta
    Great post!!! For years I walked right by J Crew, I never thought I was "worthy" for the lack of a better word to shop there, and never thought the clothing was meant for me. I was very intimidated, ridiculous but true just the same. Now that I am older and at this point in my life, comfortable with the woman that I have become, I don't think like that anymore. I am so happy that you too love who you are!!!
    As for what J crew is doing with eliminating certain sizes shame on them!! I believe they need to look in the mirror and accept who they are just like us. They are a mall store as previously stated, no way couture and there is nothing wrong with that!! I too will mention this to my PS and have her send this info on up the line.

    Love you Blog!!
    Mary Beth

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  5. You are very nicely built, your proportions are perfectly fine. I would never say from photos that there any issues with your weight. So all the shame goes to Jcrew for not offering customers thing they are ready to spend on. Well that's not the only one weird decesion out there. Although I love them despite everything.

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  6. very well-written post!! I agree with retail companies trying to expand their market share but eliminating certain sizes are just not the solution. Going to high end and size issues are two different things. As you said, the sizes disappear fast means there is a demand for these sizes. Encouraging you to follow up with J. Crew and voice your opinion so the management will be smarter in decision-making.

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  7. Dear Rynetta,

    Your concern with JCrew sizing is absolutely true.
    This might be, I believe, a way to control to the (body)type of women who display the brand. To me this is disgusting.
    I LOVE JCrew too, but I've also learned to love Talbots, Ann Taylor and many other brands.
    Better clients make better brands, and your loyalty would be rewarded with gold at any other brand.

    You are elegant, gorgeous and smart! Celebrate your size, because I will too!!

    {I'm size 12, and I've never felt so pretty :)}

    Much love
    Denise

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  8. Ina: Thanks SO much! I am SO happy to see that J. Crew offers XXS and 00 in stores and online now. I hear you totally about being sized out. It's nice to know that they heard the feedback and made a change. You're adorable. I mean absolutely adorable, so I am glad that you've embraced your beautiful body too. I think that it's SO important that we embrace our body. Thanks SO much for being here!!!

    WMM: Thanks SO much! I really appreciate your support, and I really appreciate you being here! The sizing inconsistencies at J. Crew don't make much sense to me either. I'm just hoping that they will make the right changes. My personal shopper repeatedly tells me that the company sees it as a missed opportunity when they can't sell something because the size isn't offered. Ummmm, yeah, it's a missed opportunity. Now, do something about it. I really appreciate you mentioning this to your personal shopper.

    egyptomaniac: Thanks SO much!! You're spot on--a size 14 shopper spends money the same way that a size 2 shopper spends money. And, my biggest frustration is that I feel like I'm begging J. Crew to spend my money on their clothing. I'm a loyal customer, but for some reason, customer loyalty isn't always rewarded. You nailed it, absolutely nailed it. I totally agree with you about being prepared to lose profits. Thanks SO much for being here!

    MB: Thanks SO much!!! Thanks a bunch for your kind words about my blog; I really appreciate it! And, I think that you're spot on about it being crazy that J. Crew eliminates certain sizes in certain products. I am super glad that you've embraced your beauty and that you feel comfortable with your body and who you are as a beautiful woman!!! This is SO important for all women. And, thank you for mentioning this to your personal shopper. Thanks SO much for being here!

    spockcookbook: You're absolutely the best, thanks SO much!!! I am totally happy with who I am, and my body. Like I said in the post, I'd love to lose a few pounds, but I recognize that I'm beautiful through and through. And, boy, oh boy do I agree with you about the shame being on J. Crew for the size 14 skirt exclusion. Thanks SO much for being here!!

    Small Town Gal: Thanks SO much!!! I totally agree that squeezing out certain sizes is absolutely not the solution for J. Crew even if they're trying to be couture. It just doesn't make sense. I sent a letter to the J. Crew leadership team about a week ago. I certainly hope that they will make positive changes. Thanks SO much for being here!

    Denise: Thanks SO much! I really appreciate your kind words; you're super sweet. About the size exclusion: disgusting is absolutely the right word. Like you, I've been moving to other brands as well including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and Talbots. And, also like you, I totally celebrate my size!! I love your "I've never felt so pretty" comment. That's SO important!!! Thanks SO much for being here!!

    Thanks SO much for your support ladies, and thanks SO very much for being here!!

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  9. This is such an great topic Rynetta, thanks for posting this! I do think the elimination of certain sizes may have to do with Jenna's designer label aspirations and I admit that I hope this will backfire at them. We are already so often bombarded with images of super-thin models and celebrities we almost believe that this is the norm which we should strive to achieve. I have always thought of myself as thin (or too thin when I was in my 20s) but sometimes, reading blogs and fashion articles makes some feel like I am huge since I am size 6/8 on top. But the fact is that I like my size, and even if sometimes I joke about it, I don't feel like I need to loose weight. I remember reading an article on how they did the survey and woman over 40 that were slightly overweight were actually perceived as youngest and prettiest looking in their age group! Also, I agree that this is much more about proportions that the numerical size. Btw, not that it matters, but if I was to judge your size from the pictures I would not guess higher than 8, I think because of the nice proportions and the way you dress.

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  10. Wonderful article Rynetta! You did a superb job writing your letter - very well-worded! I think it is bad business practice to "assume" that larger sizes don't sell. We already know Jcrew's "great" inventory managing system, so the fact that they are not doing their homework is very disappointing. I hope you along with many others convince Jcrew of their mistake. It is only by customer feedback that retailers are able to better their business, and if they don't listen to the customers, then they really don't want to grow their business. Thank goodness for the blog world right! :)

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  11. Aargh, I thought about your post this weekend when I tried on a lovely new dress in bright yellow (don't see it on line yet) in a 12. I wanted to compare a 14 but... you can see what is coming... not carried in the store in that size! yes, they could order it/free shipping/blah blah blah but I wanted to compare them right then, not spend nearly $200 so I could "compare" by trying it on at home a week later. At least that dress is MADE in a 14! But they lost all hope of that sale as my interest was a bit impulsive to begin with....

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  12. ajc: Thanks SO much!! You're super kind. I've been wanting to write this post for a long time, and I finally decided to get it out. I think that you're right about proportions and clothing choices. I see so many women wearing clothes that don't fit them properly. I think that I'm over anxious about making sure that my clothing fits properly, and that it doesn't add weight/bulk to my problem areas, namely my stomach. And, boy oh boy, are you right about being bombarded with media images of thinness. I am SO grateful that I'm confident about who I am and what size I am. Thanks SO much for being here!

    em in espana: Thanks SO much!! I really appreciate the compliment!! You're so right, it is terribly wrong to assume that larger sizes won't sell. What's even crazier is that those are the sizes that disappear from the J. Crew website the quickest at least from what I've noticed when ordering pencil skirts. I've mentioned the size 14 exclusion repeatedly, so I hope that the leadership team will actually do something about it this time. Thanks SO much for being here!

    Margaret: I hear you loud and clear, sister. I can't tell you how many times I've cringed when I've wanted to purchase a J. Crew skirt in the retail store but I couldn't because they don't offer that size in store. You nailed it when you said "blah blah blah" about ordering the size 14 and free shipping!! I'm so with you. So, I have to order my size to try it on while others can, for the most part (if their size isn't sold out) grab the size they want, try it on, and purchase the item IN THE STORE? It just doesn't make sense.

    Thanks SO much for being here ladies!!!

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