Marks & Spencer overcharging women for larger bust size

Several years ago...

Beckie Williams, a 35-year-old children's author from Brighton, England, discovered that Marks & Spencer (Britain's number-one lingerie and fashion retailer) was overcharging women for a D cup bra by $4 compared to identical bras that were C or B cup.

Williams responded to this discrimination of busty women by launching a nationwide protest against what she calls "big boob injustice."

"We want good value big bras readily available, it's as simple as that," she says.

Along with a friend, Williams created the Facebook group "Busts 4 Justice" demanding equal pricing for larger bras. The Facebook group has since become a runaway support movement for large breasted women.

Marks & Spencer, responded initially that larger bras were a specialty item that demanded a higher price. The average bra size sold in Britain is 36C (although this could be because many women can't find a quality D cup bra). It also said its products are still cheaper than those of high-end retailers that cater to larger women.

Williams' take on the company's response: "They basically told us, `Tough titties, go away.'"

Ten years ago, the average bra size sold in the United Kingdom was 34B. Since 2003, the demand for bra sizes DD and bigger is up 30 per cent.

What Marks & Spencer apparently saw as only two women complaining has ballooned to more than 7,000 angry customers boycotting their large lingerie departments and a firestorm of publicity over the issue.

According to a retail survey Marks & Spencer sells half of all the underwear bought in Britain.

If bigger bras require more material and take more labour, Williams said, then similar pricing policies should be in place for all clothing, not just bras. Also, why are they overcharging bras for thin women with large breasts (ie. 34D), the same as overweight women with enormous breasts (ie. 40DD) which uses considerably more fabric?

"And women have big boobs even if they are not overweight. It is not something we have any say in," says Williams.

Other retailers have announced they are coming to the rescue, with the U.K. branch of La Senza telling customers they do not charge extra for bigger bras.

"At La Senza, our motto is `One price fits all,'" said Lisa Bond, the company's U.K. spokesperson. "We don't believe that just because you wear a bigger size bra, you should pay more for it."

The chain has even offered a 10 per cent discount to Busts 4 Justice supporters.

HOWEVER La Senza's Canadian operations does overcharge for bras in the D and DD range in Canada. La Senza representatives in Montreal had no comment.

So will the protest spread to Canadian women and demand equal pricing?

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Preteen fashion bloggers?

As if we don't have enough lolitas in Hollywood now we also have to deal with lolita fashion bloggers...

12-year-old Tavi Gevinson posts fashion-inspired photos of herself on her blog "Style Rookie". She's part of a young generation of fashion bloggers who display pictures of their outfits for all the world to see.

"Lately I've been really interested in fashion, and I like to make binders and slide shows of `high-fashion' modelling and designs."

To many of us she's in a world where she doesn't belong. Privacy and predators are just two of the major reasons why we should be concerned, but also because the fashion industry's problems with anorexia, bulimia, drugs and self-abuse are well-documented and its not something children should be exposing themselves to at a young age.

The exposure concerns advocates like Parry Aftab, a lawyer who runs the online protection site "Parents have no idea what their kids are doing online," Aftab says. "Most parents have no idea what a blog is."

Concerns about Internet safety for children have been fueled by such tragedies as the 2006 suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier in Missouri. She hanged herself after receiving nasty online comments from a MySpace friend that turned out to be the fake creation of two acquaintances and a neighbour.

Although the United States federal government requires extra protection for Internet users who are younger than 13, not every website follows the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. (And frankly why should they when book companies are publishing books by children on the same topics?)

Some young bloggers are taking their own steps to protect their privacy such as cropping their faces and keeping their identity a secret. Doing so is a safety necessity for the young bloggers because it's a chance to keep track of their obsession, with input from friends or other fashion fans.

Tavi's blog "Style Rookie" went from a non-issue to a problem when in late July, New York magazine's fashion blog questioned Tavi's age, dissecting her precocious fashion sense and sophisticated taste in music. The resulting comments ranged from suspicious to nasty, with one reader claiming, "Anyone who actually believes she is [really] 12 is an absolute idoit (sic)."

The Gevinsons were asleep at their vacation house in Michigan when Tavi checked her email and found the post.

The next night, "She woke up, and again woke us up, and said – and this is really heartbreaking – `I just woke up crying and I don't even know why I'm crying.'... She slept in the bed with us that night to get back to sleep," Gevinson says.

Such negative responses are another reason children should be hesitant about blogging. Children are very impressionable and the nasty responses they receive can be a major blow to their psyche.

But Gevinson thinks kids like Tavi are stronger than parents believe. "I have a lot of confidence in her and in most kids, if not all kids, that they can figure it out if they have good guidance and caring people working with them," he says.

Tavi, after taking a short break in the wake of the attention, has returned to blogging with her father's blessing.

"I'd much rather have her decide to stop if she's going to stop than to tell her to stop," Gevinson says. "She'll grow out of it – maybe, maybe not."

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