Let’s be honest: buying fitting clothing online is a landmine for many. As a fat person, I try to stray away from clothes that look like they’d fit too closely to the body and lean more towards clothes that look like they have a bit more give because I know how stressful and humiliating it is to spend money on a pretty dress that doesn’t fit. Even then, I still obsess over the measurements, triple checking just to make sure I got it right. Thin people encounter this problem, too, I’m sure. Wanting to look nice and wear clothes that fit you is pretty universal.
When you’ve bought a piece of clothing online that, despite your due diligence, ends up fitting poorly, it’s not a bad practice to contact the shop just to make sure nothing went awry on their end. Maybe they sent the wrong sized order, in which case they should send the right one to you, or they got the measurements wrong themselves—and in that scenario, they should be able to take into account your feedback and adjust the sizing accordingly.
Unfortunately, local online shop Nola Clothing (also going by Nola PH) didn’t seem to receive the memo.
On Sept. 1, Mary (not her real name) posted on social media her experience dealing with the shop. After receiving a poorly fitting dress with noticeably shoddy construction, she reached out to the Instagram page asking for a refund.
Instead of apologizing over the poor quality of the dress, the shop shot back at her, claiming that the dress actually fits her but she just doesn’t like how it looks on her (how would they know?). There even seemed to be an attempt to bait her into taking legal action, as she was told, “You can even file a legal case.” But the worst part of their awful repartee was this line, said after giving the netizen her refund: “Honestly if you are too fat for the dress please do not order, so our time won’t be wasted.”
Yes, the response could have used more tact, but it betrays a deeper underlying issue that’s more important to look through.
The insinuation that fat people should not buy their clothes is very harmful. Sometimes, I like to think that we’ve evolved beyond it, but this is a big reality check that fat phobia and body shaming are still alive and well. There is no need to tell someone they are too fat for a dress. There’s a difference between acknowledging that there was a discrepancy in the measurements—hey, I’ve bought clothes too small for me, too; it happens—and straight up fat shaming someone and calling them too fat to fit in a piece of clothing.
And they said it to someone who, I have to point out, is not fat. And, as the netizen herself pointed out, her measurements are smaller than the supposed measurements of the model who wore the dress in the product photos.
The shop seemed to be apologetic in later replies, telling the netizen that she “is not fat and I have nothing against fat people” after she first put them on blast. But even in that same message, they doubled down on the fat phobia. “I was pertaining to the body of whoever that is too big for the dress and it is not personal.”
The shop doesn’t seem to be handling the criticism well. After asking the customer to take down her IG story of their exchange, the shop apologized to her through DMs.
“After sending me that message, they actually blocked me, only to unblock me when I made it public, hence their ‘apology,’” Mary told Preen. “They also tried contacting me through phone, but by that time I really didn’t see the point anymore.”
About the apology, though: Identifying themselves as the shop’s part owner, the shop DM’d her saying that she should delete her negative feedback as the shop “did their best to resolve this,” she got her refund, and that it was only fair for their “colleagues who are working hard who has (sic) nothing to do with what [they] said.” The part owner also shared that they exchanged those heated words because they had a rough day, as if that’s an excuse.
That does seem to be at odds with the shop’s apparent official statement, however, which identified the person talking to Mary as a “media staff” who is “now under investigation.” Which is it really? The shop also said that it’s a “brand that loves to celebrate any body curves.” The statement also mentioned that they “don’t tolerate body shaming—and that is the main reason why we offer custom fit services to our clients.”
While it’s good to hear that they offer services that could benefit plus-sized clients, I am questioning the validity of using bespoke services as proof that your brand doesn’t body shame.
Offering customized sizing does not automatically mean that your brand is inclusive or fat positive. I’m not saying that being given the option to have clothes tailored to your specific measurements doesn’t help fat people like me—it really does—but presenting that as a “fat-friendly” option alongside the rest of the product sizes makes it feel more like an afterthought. Why couldn’t there have been an XL option at the ready? An XXL? So yes, it is nice to have the option to have custom-fit clothes, but the intentionality to offer larger sizes from the start is what’s important to me.
Mary shared to Preen that she had no intention from the get-go to put the brand on blast. “For me, I made it a point to give them the possibility of resolving this issue peacefully and privately, asking them to be considerate of the refund since I’ve given them all the evidence to prove there [was] something wrong [with the order].”
“After all that long [back and forth] with them, if they would’ve just sent the refund we could’ve been done with it. But shockingly it blew up bigger than it should be because of that snide remark,” she noted. “Worst of all, [when they sent the latter DMs] it’s like they weren’t really apologizing but [were only saying that] just so the post will be taken down.”
A fashion major, she had some advice for people buying clothes online who might’ve been scared off because of her experience: “Buying clothes is its own experience for any individual. The best thing is always ASK, don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for [their] sizing chart, ask for measurements if you have to. I think people shouldn’t be ashamed to speak up, but of course do it with kindness in mind first.”
She also had this to say for other shops: “Hopefully, if issues like this happen again (which I hope it doesn’t!), they can just honestly apologize for their mistakes. They should hold themselves accountable for what they said and just be really sorry for it. Damage has been done, the best solution is to not continuously top it off with more lies [like] pinpoint[ing] a non-existent staff member because people will really see through that.”
The shop has since deleted its page on Instagram. Preen is open to Nola’s side on this matter.