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Thursday
Sep012011

Any-Body in Argentina: Seeking Size Law Compliance

By Sharon Haywood

Fashion in Buenos Aires is no frivolous matter. Apart from being the fashion capital of Latin America, the first season of Project Runway Latin America was held in Buenos Aires and almost a third of the reality show’s participants were Argentine. Home-grown designers have no shortage of venues to showcase their work: Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Argentina Fashion Week, and Buenos Aires Moda all attract national media coverage. And most recently, the Buenos Aires government has launched Buenos Aires Runway, where the country’s newest designers exhibit their work via regular fashion shows and conferences. Considering what big business fashion is in Argentina, it’s perplexing that retailers sell clothes that only about 30% of average-sized women can wear.

That’s right. Seven out of ten women struggle to find their size in the latest trends. What’s more discouraging is that this reality exists in spite of municipal and provincial laws created specifically to eradicate designers’ and retailers’ preference for smaller sizes. The size law in the capital requires that retailers stock eight sizes (usually AR 36-50/UK 8-22/US 6-20) and the law in the province of Buenos Aires requires sizes AR 38-48 (UK 10-20/US 8-18); both laws mandate standardized sizing. Compliance is frighteningly low at less than 25%. Despite that the provincial law has been on the books for six years and the municipal law for two years, it’s obvious that the current consequences for not adhering to the law—fines and store closures—have not increased size law compliance. Which is why Any-Body Argentina, a grassroots movement born out of the Endangered Bodies global campaign[1] is employing an alternative tactic. 

Instead of taking a punitive approach our size law campaign focuses on the positive. Our original aim was to reward stores that demonstrated 100% size law compliance but we discovered we had set the bar too high. Over several months, our team investigated stores throughout the capital trying to find one store—just one—that fully complied with the law. We couldn’t. So we adjusted our focus and short-listed a handful of near-compliant brands, both Argentine and international to further research, with VER and Portsaid sharing the top spot. So as not to rely solely on our independent investigation of stores, we collected data by conducting interviews with teens and women both inside and outside of a major shopping center and we widely distributed an online survey[2].The results confirmed our investigation: 50% of women shopped at the top two stores we identified.

On July 1, 2011 we launched our size law campaign by officially recognizing these two Argentine brands, VER and Portsaid for offering the most extensive range of sizes in the country. We awarded them with a sticker that can be found in their store windows, which allows consumers to easily identify women-friendly retailers. Both brands presently display the Any-Body Argentina sticker in almost 100 stores throughout the country and we continue to collaborate with the two brands to support them in reaching full size law compliance.

The reaction to our campaign has been encouraging. Within weeks of launching, the country’s three major newspapers covered our initiative: Clarín, La Nación, and Página 12, in addition to television coverage by CNN Español and Moda Bit. Even more exciting is that a major Argentine brand has approached us wanting to be recognized; currently we’re working with the brand to ensure it meets a basic level of compliance. (We have also identified other clothing brands, both for teens and women, that we would like to see displaying our sticker.) And of course, the continual feedback from Argentine teens and women keeps us inspired. My favorite to date is from Vanina C: “Thank you for defending our rights so that women have the freedom to choose.” We’re ecstatic that women have choices at VER and Portsaid but we also recognize that the current fashionable options are still limited.

On this side of the equator, spring is just a few weeks away. As the new season’s collections hit the racks we’ll be there, investigating the range of standardized sizes offered. Our commitment to achieving size law compliance is more than about eradicating size discrimination. In a country with the second highest rate of eating disorders in the world, where over 90% of women are on a diet, and more than 50% would like to be one dress size smaller, size law compliance translates to greater mental and physical health for Argentine girls, teens, and women.

 


[1] Originally called Endangered Species.

[2] Data collection is ongoing.

Reader Comments (8)

I just saw the AnyBody sticker inside a Ver store today, and I was like "oh well! good! somebody actually took action about this!" So I wanted to say thank you for it!
Im a size 12 (us) and 90% of the brands wont sell anything bigger than a size 10, so i always have problems searching for new clothes off the rack.
Thanks again for DOING something and hopefully i'll see the sticker in all the stores i go in :)
best, Lau.
September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Thanks for your support, Laura! We're hoping to see a lot more of our sticker too!!
September 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Haywood
I invite to visit my web www.yolamasgorda.com.ar I fight for the rights of women of all size, especiallly plus size... thanks a lot for your fight. xoxo
October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
@Laura/yolamasgorda What a wonderful blog!! We have posted a link to it on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/especiesenriesgodeextincion). Thank you for doing what you do!
October 12, 2011 | Registered Commenteranybody
ESTAFA DE YAGMUR!! Tal vez lo sepan ya, pero por las dudas se los comento. La empresa YAGMUR, que fue reconocida por ustedes seguramente de buena fe como una empresa que respeta la ley de talles, lo que hizo en realidad fue modificar la curva de estos. Es decir, el talle 46 de antes, ahora es el 50 y así sucesivamente. De esta manera no existen realmente los talles 50, 52 y 54. Con esto, supuestamente están respetando la ley, porque "FIGURAN" todos los talles, pero en realidad no los tienen. Y así cumplen con el requerimiento legal y AHORRAN TELA!! Lamentablemente esta gente no piensa en las mujeres que sufren cuando, desconociendo lo sucedido, quedan excluidas de sus prendas y salen con frustración y vergüenza de sus locales.

Por favor, les pido que revean a qué empresas le dan este reconocimiento, porque junto con ellas ponen en juego su reputación.
December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiego
YAGMUR's SWINDLE!! Maybe know it already, but for the doubts I comment on them to him. The company YAGMUR, which was recognized by you surely of good faith as a company that respects the law of figures, what it did actually was to modify the curve of these. That is to say, the figure 46 of before, now it is 50 and so on. Hereby the figures do not exist really 50, 52 and 54. With this, supposedly they are respecting the law, because all the figures "APPEAR", but actually they do not have them. And this way they expire with the legal requirement and SAVE FABRIC!! Lamentably these people do not think about the women that they suffer when, not knowing the happened, they remain excluded from his articles and go out with frustration and shame of his places. Please, I ask them to re-see to what companies they give him this recognition, because together with them they bring into play his reputation.
December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiego
Hola Diego,
Gracias por tu comentario. Sabemos bien que los talles de Yagmour estaban distintas que son ahora. La razon por eso es que Yagmour usaba talles de Europa. Los talles que usan ahora corresponden a las normas en la Ley Provincial de Buenos Aires. El numero de talle cambió pero solo estar en linea con talles en Argentina. Chekeamos bien que los talles corresponden a las medidas de la Ley Provincial. Por ejemplo, un talle 44 corresponde a una mujer con una cintura de 72cm y una cadera de 98cm. En Europa, un talle con las mismas medidas (o parecidas) corresponde a un talle mas chico.

Espero que clarifique bien. No dudes en contactarme directamente a sharon.haywood@any-body.org

Hi Diego,
Thanks for your comment. We are well aware that Yagmour's sizes are different than what they used to be. The reason for this is that Yagmour was using European sizing. Their sizes now correspond to the norms as outlined by the province of Buenos Aires. Take note that the number of the size changed but only to be in line with Argentine sizing. We investigate not only what is written on the ticket but that the sizes correspond to the measurements outlined in the provincial size law. For example, a size 44 corresponds to a woman with a waist of 72 cm and hips of 98cm. In Europe the size with these measurements (or close to them) corresponds to a much smaller size.

I hope my explanation helps. Feel free to contact me directly at sharon.haywood@any-body.org should you have any further concerns.

Sharon Haywood
Director Any-Body Argentina
December 20, 2011 | Registered Commenteranybody
Dear all:

I appreciate your initiative of doing something different to get a different result. I agree it's really helpful. Your webpage is really important to me, because I had serious self-esteem issues due to the impossibility of getting something that fits me. Event now, every time I go shopping, I usually end up getting out of the stores with tears in my eyes.

Thank you so much for your interest in us.
March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCintia

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