A bride from New York flew to Ontario, CA to try on a beautiful dress that she had seen in a magazine. When she was standing in the boutique, admiring herself in the mirror, she was told that the “nude” colored undergarments that go with the dress would have to be special ordered for her darker skin, and she would have to pay $200 for them.
Up until that point, the black woman had not been especially aware that there were no women of color in the shop with her, but she felt singled out as “other”, and was stunned into not sticking up for herself. The experience stayed with her though, and she posted about it on social media once she had time to think about it and how it made her feel. It brought her back to other memories where she had felt embarrassed and singled out for being a person of color in a white dominated situation. She was hurt, and mad.
Her situation could easily have been avoided, had the shop offered to dye the undergarments for her, or just not included the upcharge for a different colored set. Surely, there is enough of an up-charge in those wedding dresses to be able to cover the minimal cost for either of those solutions? Perhaps, when she called the boutique and told them she was coming to see that particular dress, there could have been a discussion over the phone about the undergarment color, special ordering for specific color match, extra charge, etc. Then the woman could have made the decision whether to go there for the order or not. Having that conversation after she’d already flown to Ontario was really outrageous.
Of course, the problem is layered. The bride was meant to feel like she was not “normal” because of her blackness. The fashion industry, that this particular bride is a part of as a model, has been othering and shaming women for years. Extreme thinness had been the only acceptable size for decades. Sample sizes are much smaller than the size of the average American woman, making fashion into something very exclusive indeed. I know for a fact that larger women often have to pay more for garments, due to the extra material needed. As a larger woman, it does make me feel “othered”, but I just accept it as part of the shaming of being overweight.
I’m not saying that these are the same thing at all. But the fashion industry, and the places clothing are sold, have been in the business of catering to their special clientele for many years. Anyone outside of a certain type is othered, and sometimes shamed. Work has certainly been done in this area, and we see fashion models of all sizes and colors these days. However, there is obviously still a long way to go.