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Jillian Weighs In: Plus size people should not be shamed for buying fast fashion

During the movement for more sustainability, especially in fashion, Shein has been propped as the poster child of fast fashion: a term used to describe the mass production of runway designs at a cheap cost. Through social media platforms like TikTok, I’ve read comments condemning users for purchasing clothing from Shein in “haul” videos and individual videos on how unethical it is to buy clothing from Shein due to its contribution to wasteful consumption of clothing.

What critics of Shein fail to consider, however, is that Shein is one of very few companies that offers fashionable, trendy and affordable clothes for plus size people. As I’ve stated in a previous column, the options in malls are lacking when it comes to plus size fashion. In most malls, the options tend to be off-trend and expensive, whereas Shein offers a massive variety of clothing styles that one could find in the straight sizes (sizes 0–14) and plus sizes. 

A separate argument is raised that plus size people should consider thrifting instead. Although this is a good idea in theory, in practice there are other issues. The main issue is there are not enough plus size options in thrift stores. Whether it’s Plato’s closet or GoodWill, the options tend to be unstylish and limited in quantity. 

The cutesy clothing people can buy from thrift stores are not often from the plus size section. When they are, though, they aren’t dressing a plus size body. Rather, the 1X–3X options are being bought and worn by straight sized people to give an “oversized” look to their outfits. Plus size people already lack options for clothing and fashion and to have those options reduced by people who have an entire market catered to them makes ethical shopping even more difficult. 

A separate issue that affects thrifting as a whole, though, is reselling clothing through platforms such as Depop. Some thrift shoppers will raid their local GoodWill for what’s trendy at the time to later sell it for more than it is worth. Doing so has ended up driving up thrift store prices as a whole. Although thrift stores remain an option, variety and affordability dwindle.

Between the lack of options in both size and style and higher prices from reselling, it’s no wonder why plus size people want to shop from Shein. Why continue to scour places for one good option when there’s a website that offers thousands of good options? 

To that end, plus size people should not be shamed or criticized for buying from Shein, especially by people who have easier access to clothing in general. Plus size individuals are not shaming each other for buying from Shein. Straight sized individuals are often the ones who choose to comment on plus size people making Shein purchases. 

Sustainable consumption is a layered issue, and boiling it down to blaming plus size consumers for shopping on a website that offers affordable and fashionable options does not solve any sustainability issues.

Jillian Craig is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Jillian know by tweeting her at @JillianCraig18.

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