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Sorry, It’s not You; It’s my Preference of Customers

Ah yes, another day another “insert specific hyperfixation” that girls cling onto. And today’s specific hyperfixation we’ll be going over is none other than the Italian clothing brand that markets fast fashion and accessories to teenage girls and young women, or as others call it, Brandy Melville.

Brandy Melville—the epitome of fashion faux pas disguised as California cool. The brand somehow managed to turn basic into a badge of honour and convince legions of teenage girls that wearing clothes meant for a Barbie doll was the height of style. But behind the facade of sun-kissed aesthetics lies a dark underbelly of manipulation and feeding into the securities of young impressionable girls.

Let’s start with the pièce de résistance of Brandy Melville’s problematic playbook: the infamous "One Size Fits Most" tagline. Because apparently, excluding anyone who doesn’t fit into their narrow definition of “most” is just good business sense. It’s like saying, “Hey, we only care about making clothes for a select few, and the rest of you can just suck it.” How inclusive. And don’t even get me started on the Brandy Girl archetype. Tall, skinny, and as white as a pair of tube socks—that’s the brand's idea of diversity. Because who needs representation when you can just plaster the same cookie-cutter face all over your marketing materials?

But it’s not just about the aesthetic—it’s about the toxic culture that Brandy Melville cultivates behind the scenes. Former employees speak of predatory leadership, body shaming, and a toxic workplace environment. But perhaps the most damning indictment of Brandy Melville is the way it infiltrated teenage minds with their premade and pre-decided ‘perfect body type’.

Picture this: a teenage girl standing in front of a mirror, scrutinising every inch of her body, trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that were never meant to accommodate anyone with hips wider than ‘The Brandy Girl’. Brandy Melville doesn’t just sell clothes; it sells a distorted version of reality where thin is in and anything less is unacceptable. It’s like they’ve weaponized insecurity, using it to lure girls into a never-ending cycle of self-doubt and self-loathing. Because why empower when you can manipulate?

With their glorification of waif-like figures and their disdain for anything resembling curves, they send a dangerous message to impressionable young minds: that starving yourself is a small price to pay for the privilege of fitting into their clothes. It’s like they’re saying, “Sure, you could eat that burger, but do you really want to risk not looking like our Brandy Girls?”

But the reality is, behind every crop top and mini skirt is a girl who’s struggling to reconcile her own worth with the unattainable standards set by a faceless corporation. It’s like they’ve hijacked the very essence of adolescence, turning it into a battleground where girls are forced to choose between their mental health and their desire to belong.

When asked to describe Brandy Melville, a former employee literally says,

“The reason I liked it? Everyone else liked it,”

Brandy Melville, the brainchild of some CEO sitting in a boardroom, probably sipping on a martini while deciding which unrealistic body standards to push onto impressionable young girls next. Because nothing says “fashion” like a bunch of old men telling you what you should look like, am I right?

These CEOs are like puppet masters pulling the strings of teenage self-esteem, manipulating every flaw and insecurity for profit. They sit back and watch as girls scramble to fit into their narrow definition of beauty, all while counting their stacks of cash. It’s like they’re saying, “You can be anything you want, as long as it fits into our narrow definition of beauty.” But hey, who needs ethical business practices when you can just slap a heart logo on a crop top and call it a day?

In the grand scheme of things, Brandy Melville is just one player in a larger game of manipulation and insecurity peddled by fashion brands everywhere. From Abercrombie to Victoria’s Secret, the message is clear: conform or be cast aside. But here’s the thing: these so-called “standards” are nothing more than preferences crafted by CEOs who couldn’t care less about the mental well-being of their customers.

It’s time for girls everywhere to realise that their worth isn’t measured by the size of their jeans or the number on the scale. It’s time to reject the narrative that says you have to look a certain way to be beautiful or worthy of love and respect.

So, here’s a message to all the old men in suits profiting off of teenage insecurity: May your wallets be as empty as your moral compass.

Written by Aadya Kashyap

Aadya wrote this article as a participant of the Media-Makers Fellowship's April'24 cohort.

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