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Size-inclusive clothing hauls on social media embrace the vulnerable try-on experience.
Let’s state the obvious: TikTok has never been more popular. With over 1 billion users (and counting), content creators of all shapes and sizes have flocked to the app as a safe haven from the pressures of curating a perfect Instagram feed. While this desire to be more authentic has resulted in an array of more spontaneous videos on the platform, such as impromptu dancing and “day in the life” montages, it has also cultivated a community of honest reviewers — more specifically, size-inclusive fashion reviewers who are (finally!) holding brands accountable for inconsistent sizing.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that trying on clothes is, to put it simply, the worst. Pushing past the harsh lighting and claustrophobia-inducing small space of a fitting room, retailers’ proclivity for inconsistent sizing and excluding larger sizes can make navigating something as basic as purchasing clothes nearly impossible, unless you’re a size two.
@remibaderDid you miss my hauls? I did♬ original sound – Remi Jo
Luckily, TikTokers are looking to change that by inviting viewers into a virtual fitting room to witness the good, the bad and even the ugly. Made famous by viral influencers such as Remi Bader and Diana Dare, the trend sees curvy women trying on fast fashion outfits and giving their honest to goodness opinions (quotable lines from Bader include: “Is this supposed to be a dress?” And, “Why, sizing department, why?!”).
Whether it’s an unflattering fabric, strange silhouette or a size 14 that feels more like a six, these creators give a whole new meaning to the term Fashion Police as they call out the culprits contributing to body insecurities. Outside of the humorous commentary, these videos go beyond entertainment by inviting viewers to join the size-inclusivity conversation.
Diana Di Poce of Dare Magazine — a curvy fashionista who has taken part in this trend and garnered over 100,000 followers — calls these TikTok plus-size fashion try-ons a “gamechanger.” She explains that watching plus-size influencers post their shopping hauls reminds us that we’re not alone. “I’ve blamed myself for the clothing not fitting, instead of looking at the brand and their lack of sizing,” Di Poce says.
@diana.daresUnderstood ✔️ ##foryou ##fyp ##plussize ##plussizeedition ##plussizefashion ##gettogether ##pinterestaesthetic ##pinterestoutfit ##ootd ##thicktok♬ The Assignment – Tay Money
Mirroring Di Poce, Canadian designer Hayley Elsaesser believes that watching women review garments has changed the way many of us shop online “as it’s basically like [having] a friend or a big sister [give] you unbiased guidance and advice.” She adds, “The average plus-size woman has a very different body type than [an hourglass shape], so it really helps seeing someone with your body trying on something you might like to wear.”
In addition to advising shoppers of which brands to steer clear of and which to splurge on, Tatianna Barry, the social media coordinator at BloomChic, an emerging international plus-size clothing brand, says these TikTok videos can be beneficial, if (and that’s a big if) fashion brands choose to listen. “Brands gain insight into what the plus shopper wants during their shopping experience.” It also communicates that “shoppers are not settling for the bare minimum anymore,” Barry explains.
Similarly, these viral videos also provide an opportunity for new and emerging designers with inclusive sizing to get the recognition they deserve, says Catherine Claude, the general manager of Sportive Plus, a curve activewear apparel company located in Quebec. “It’s a win-win [for] everyone — for brands, creators and viewers.”
It’s important to note that while the plus-size fashion community is gaining traction on TikTok, it’s only one part of the widespread body positivity movement, in part led by fashionable leaders such as Ashley Graham, Tess Holiday, Rihanna (see Savage x Fenty vol. 3) and Lizzo, among others. But that’s not to discredit all the work that content creators have done. Elsaesser believes that #plussizehauls are keeping the momentum alive and contributing to the normalization of curvy bodies that were previously excluded in the fashion industry.
What differentiates this trend from the others is its vulnerability. These are real people with real clothing struggles filming their real lives. In a forum like TikTok, there are no proverbial curtains to hide behind, nor should they feel the need to hide. It’s about time the narrative changed. “Representation is critical to help individuals foster self-acceptance, greater confidence and overall happiness with their body image,” notes Claude. “We love that size inclusivity has been brought to the forefront through the TikTok platform because it allows us to normalize and celebrate individuals of all shapes and sizes.”