passing notes

an open letter to the folks who run brandy melville.

(for those who don’t know, brandy melville is a teen clothing retailer catering to the more wealthy and known for their ‘one size fits most’ policy.)

Hey, Brandy Melville.

Let me start off by saying that I am not a Brandy girl. I am Asian-American, 5’3″, with a waist the same size as the models on the website (only they’re at least five inches taller). My hair is long, but it’s also wavy and not blonde. My eyes are not blue, and my teeth are far from perfect and straight. However, I do love Brandy’s style, I’ll commend you on that. The long cardigans, Valencia-washed Instagram, the careful assosiation with teen idols – all American girls such as Taylor Swift, the latest photo on your Instagram feed – it’s some remarkable branding.

Along with that branding, of course, is your typical Brandy girl. 5’7″ or 5’8″, with waist-length blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and one of those bodies that only years and years of green dieting and exercise can get you. After scrolling through your website, I found exactly one model of color, and not on the front page. She was buried in the ‘graphics’ section. Granted, she also had the body of the stereotypical Brandy girl.

Remember Maggie Todd? She’s one of your most popular models, with 77.8 k Instagram followers, and also the only brunette in a 4:47 video of a 2013 Brandy shoot. Still white, still green-eyed, but different none-the-less. If that teeny bit of diversity earned Maggie and your brand thousands of fans, imagine what models of every body type and every race and different nuances of life could earn you.

I get it, you can do whatever you want, but just think about it. Think about the 50% or so of girls who can’t wear your clothes. You’re taking the body of potential customers and slashing it in half right off the bat. Isn’t that bad for business? Think about fashion giants H&M and Forever 21, who are currently mooching off your customers with their newly launched plus-size lines. And for heaven’s sake, think of the thousands of gorgeous, equally Cali-chic girls who aren’t getting hired by your brand because they aren’t white enough or tiny enough.

My point is, yeah, there are lots of girls who can wear your clothes and will. But there are even more girls who can’t wear your clothes, and I bet some of them would want to if you expanded your size range and got models that they could relate to. Blonde sun-kissed beach babes are great, but what about the bubbly Brazilians with jet-black hair and cutting eyes? The young Liu Wen’s with creamy complexions and deep, caramel-toned eyes? Brandy Melville, you’re even forgetting the New York socialite whose city you slathered on the back of your bomber jackets. Love the inside. Embrace differences. Travel the world.

Isn’t that what it says on your shopping bags?

Definitely not from California.

Author: jenna

May all your dreams come true (even the ones they laughed at).

7 thoughts on “passing notes”

  1. Hey, someone had to say it. I’ve been following Brandy on IG for awhile and I’ll admit a good portion of my closet is from there. But like you said- I’ve been noticing the same exact photos on my IG feed from them…Granted, the girls are beautiful, but it’s practically the same girl. I honestly believe representation is so, so sooo important and it can’t be healthy for people of all diversity (esp to growing and maturing girls) to see only one generic girl. Nice post, Jenna!!
    xoxo Claire
    aka MOM (I changed my RL blog address if ya wanna request access)


    1. claire / MOM,
      thank you so much. yeah i also have quite a few things from brandy (some of them bought after this post was written ooooops).
      but yeah i completely understand what you’re saying!!! i can’t tell the difference; it’s the same hair and skin tone and eye color.
      i requested access n i can’t wait to see your rl blog
      x jenna


  2. Jenna,
    I completely agree with you.
    All companies want these days are almost anorexic blondes to model for their cooperation.
    Realistically speaking, girls today are very unique and vary in culture.
    This year my teacher told our classmates that if you have strong opinions, to share them.
    I bet if enough people feel this way, Brandy and other stereotypical brands would change their size range and model race.
    Hopefully this stereotypical “tall, skinny, blonde” phase cuts out soon.
    Many girls these days are tired to being restricted to a “one size fits all” range.

    xx, -Dylan


    1. Dylan,
      While I’d like to point out that not all models are anorexic, what you’re saying is completely true. I’m also really tired of tall, skinny blondes and I’d like to see more variety in sizing, and the one-size policy eliminated. There are so many women (and men) that one size and one type of model truly cannot fit all.
      x jenna


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