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A material world


A material world

Jane Stephens believes smaller people should pay less than for their clothing than their larger friends.

Size does matter. Sometimes, but not always. And therein lies the confusion.

A carton of large eggs costs more than a box of small ones, for example. A big bag of chips is more expensive than a little one.

But in the consumer world, not all things are scaled. One area that has manufacturers’ and my mind in a twist is clothing. A T-shirt is the same price whether it is size large or small.

A size 22 dress needs more material than a size eight one. It needs more buttons. It needs more thread. And I think that means it should cost more.

To say such a thing is somehow construed as fattist and unfair instead of what it is: sensible in terms of profit margins and construction costs.

We do not blink about variations in other consumer items. Buy a TV and watch the price increase as the wall real estate it covers grows. Go for a new mattress and whether it’s a single or a queen determines how much it hurts your hip pocket.

Size determines the price at a tyre shop. I can’t recall a four-wheel-drive owner saying they’re being discriminated against because they like to get off the beaten track. But dare say it about fashion and be ready for a verbal bombardment.

The sensitivity is staggering.

It makes sense to apply a reasonable price scale according to clothing size because at the moment, it can only be presumed that smaller-sized people
are subsidising the cost of clothing manufacture for bigger people.

Two thirds of Australian women are overweight and the average gal now fills out clothing somewhere between a size 14 and 16.

Australian men are big too, standing just behind their US brothers in terms of obesity.

Big people need big clothing, and they cost more to make.

But don’t say it is so.

In the US and UK a few years ago, several prominent brands brought out ‘extended size’ ranges and charged more for them, but were howled down as being fattist and morning chat shows called for their boycott for charging what they said was a fat tax.

So yes – size matters when it comes to clothing and prices should reflect that.


Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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