Teens can’t get enough of one-size retailer bent on destroying body image

Brandy Melville is the mean girl of teen retailers. She’s exclusive and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, just like the popular girl who sits with her followers gathered around her at the lunch table. This California retailer has developed a cult following of teen girls without advertising. Followers have flocked to Brandy Melville in droves on Twitter and Instagram.

The clothes are cute and affordable. But dig a little deeper into “mean girl” retailer Brandy Melville, and you’ll see that large sizes are nowhere to be found. Refinery 29 reports that the brand’s clothing is available only in small sizes, such as extra small, small or one size. Teen fans of the dark horse brand have voiced their concern of not being able to fit into clothing.

I don’t have a teen daughter, but I was a teen daughter not so long ago. I was also a teen girl with a raging eating disorder, a combination of anorexia and bulimia spurred on by uncontrollable anxiety from my parents’ divorce. I remember back then that it was a source of pride for me to fit into the smallest clothing size in the store. I felt safe and in control. I felt like I had accomplished something. If Brandy Melville had existed in the ’90s, I would have been in eating disorder heaven.

That is not to say that any girl who wears a small size has an eating disorder. There are plenty of teen girls who wear smalls. There are plenty of grown petite women. But a teen-friendly retailer that does not offer a large size sends a blatant message: If you don’t look like us, we won’t accept you.

Brandy Melville’s clothing is adorable, and it’s no wonder that teen girls can’t get enough of it. But for every follower the brand gains on social media in its underground marketing groundswell, another teen girl has bought into these standards of an unrealistic body image.

The Brandy Melville brand has become an Instagram superstar with more than two million followers. All of the models look happy, whimsical and very, very thin. This is who teen girls want to be. And they’re welcome to sit at Brandy’s lunch table — and shop at her stores — as long as they can fit into her one-size clothing.

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