Beauty is more than “one-size-fits-all”

Grace Brady, Reporter

Vintage designs on white shirts fall just along the model’s navel. They wear checkered mini skirts, simple sweaters or cropped patterned blouses. Walking into a Brandy Melville store is exciting, as it’s known for catering to trends while also providing a wide array of basic pieces. 

Trying on Brandy Melville clothing, however, is a smack in the face for many girls. A “Brandy girl” is beautiful, blonde, thin. After putting on a crop top or bike shorts, I take one look into the mirror and realize that I am not a “Brandy girl.”

The Italian clothing brand, Brandy Melville, isn’t just selling trendy clothing to young women; it is selling teenage girls the idea that thin bodies and white skin is the epitome of beauty. 

The brand opened a store location in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood Dec. 7. With over 3.9 million followers on Instagram, the opening prompted excitement from many Chicago customers and has the potential to increase its already prevailing popularity.

I was introduced to the brand three years ago by my friends. While making my first purchase, the “one-size-fits-all” policy didn’t seem to bother me. In fact, I felt happy that I didn’t need to choose, even if the “one-size” was almost always small. I still refused to even look at bottoms, as the pit in my stomach told me that those items weren’t made for me. I knew the feeling of opening a package, trying something on, and not seeing the image in my head would only strengthen my refusal.

Brandy Melville models are, without much exception, white girls with willowy arms, thin legs and a small waist. Though the brand has faced backlash about its lack of body and racial diversity for years, they have put little to no effort into meeting people’s requests. Meanwhile, other companies have made efforts to diversify images of beauty on social media, such as Aerie, including models of all shapes, colors and ability, and Sports Magazine, which included plus-sized model Ashley Graham on its cover. As more companies shed light on the beauty of diversity, Brandy Melville’s popularity seems like a step backward in terms of understanding that beauty is not a single image. 

The brand’s target audience is teenage girls. Brandy Melville’s lack of increase in diversity, despite its increase in popularity,  add to the current beauty standards that teenage girls face every day and encourages teenage girls to crave a change in themselves, since the brand promotes one conventional idea of beauty.

Though teenage girls may not be able to control many societal pressures that urge them to lose weight or make them ashamed of their skin color, teenage girls have some control over the brands they support. By not shopping at Brandy Melville and showing support for brands that emphasize diversity, teenage girls could learn to understand once more the beauty of individuality. People should support brands that support them no matter the size of their body or the color of their skin. 

Beauty isn’t one size, and teenage girls shouldn’t strive to be one, either.