Boohoo accused of using thin models for plus-sized clothing, charging a 'fat tax'

Did this fashion retailer use a thin model to sell plus-size clothing? (Photo: Boohoo)
Did this fashion retailer use a thin model to sell plus-size clothing? (Photo: Boohoo)

Fashion retailer Boohoo is in the social media hot seat for hiring a thin model to rep its curvy clothing line and is being accused of charging plus-size customers a so-called fat tax.

On Tuesday, a Scottish manicurist called out the UK-based brand on Twitter. “Anyone else majorly offended that this is a ‘plus size’ bikini on a ‘plus size’ model?!?! No wonder girls think they are ‘fat,’” @suzzillee_main wrote, posting two photos depicting a blonde Boohoo model wearing a £25 plus-size white-and-pink crochet bikini (marked down to £15).

The outcry followed a Monday tweet, which pointed out that the same blonde model — this time wearing a £18 plus-size jersey tie-waist jumpsuit — was also too thin to be considered plus-size.

Also on Tuesday, a UK-based body-positive campaign called “Free to Be OK With Me” speculated that Boohoo was charging plus-size customers a “fat tax,” an additional fee traditionally imposed on unhealthy foods, to help combat obesity.

To illustrate its point, the campaign tweeted a screenshot of what appears to be the exact same Boohoo maxi dress, represented in both the straight and plus lines, with the latter costing an additional £5.

“The use of non-plus models to represent plus-size lines encourages body dysmorphia, especially when [Boohoo’s] target market is largely young women vulnerable and impressionable to marketing,” Jen Eastwood, an organizer for “Free to Be OK,” tells Yahoo Style, adding that while the size of the Boohoo model is unclear (“I’m estimating a 12, at most”) in the UK, plus-sizing begins at size 18.

It’s unclear whether the maxi dress the campaign points to is the same item in both straight and plus sizes. However, says Eastwood, selling plus sizes at a higher price would entail “taking advantage of an increasing plus-size population by charging more.”

Yahoo Style could not reach a Boohoo representative for comment, and we also reached out to the model who appears to be featured on the Boohoo website, and will update if we hear back.

Back in 2016, Boohoo angered customers who claimed that size 12 Swedish model Anna Fritzdorf, 25, did not represent a true plus-size woman. In response, Fritzdorf dove into the Instagram comments section to clarify. “It’s me on the picture, and I wanna say that I fit the test for plus-size as good as the straight-size models fit their size,” she wrote. “I have to use pins sometimes but 90 percent of the time the test size fits perfectly, so please try to find correct info before you put things out. I have a small waist and small boobs, but I still fit in the sizes. Not all plus-size models need to have massive boobs.”

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