I love fashion. My passion for fashion has ebbed and flowed throughout my life but is probably in flow at this juncture because I have found a place that carries items that fit me and does not charge extra. Some havens provide fabulous plus-size fashion, and I am grateful; this blog is because I had to venture away from my favorite local plus-size clothing shop and buy some scrubs. I had to purchase and find hunter-green scrubs for my clinical year in grad school for 23-24. I am so excited about my clinical year. However, my process of finding something that fit was challenging for a few reasons.
My usual clothing size is not my scrub size. (I had to go up one to three sizes to fit my curves.) Plus-size scrubs come in limited colors, and I needed a specific color. I love buying clothes, but I quickly learned scrubs are not made for bodies with curves. I had to purchase and return items several times and try several styles—many companies charge for return shipping and a restocking fee. Also, if you are a plus-size scrub wearer, you may know that buying scrubs can be a bit more costly than for your smaller colleagues ($3-7 per item). This is due to what is commonly known as the "Fat Tax." The Fat Tax is an additional cost that plus-size individuals are charged for clothing items that are larger in size (Greenleaf, 2019). This practice is not only unfair but can also be harmful to the self-esteem and confidence of those who are affected by it.
The Fat Tax has been an issue in Westernized yoga culture and the fashion industry for years, with many brands charging more for plus-size clothing items than for their smaller counterparts or shaming and not extending size range (a brand that sounds like shoe-moo hemon). Retailers often justify this due to the additional fabric and materials needed to produce larger sizes. However, this reasoning needs to include that larger sizes are in higher demand and that the companies could easily absorb the additional costs or diversify them, like how they do that for an XS size through an XL size (Christel & Dunn, 2016). The same is true for scrubs. Plus-size scrubs are often more expensive than smaller sizes despite being made from the same materials and requiring the same amount of labor to produce. This can be frustrating for plus-size healthcare professionals who are already facing challenges in their field. The Fat Tax affects individuals' wallets and self-image.
By charging more for larger sizes, retailers essentially tell plus-size individuals that their bodies are not as desirable or worthy as smaller ones. This can be detrimental to the mental health of individuals who, by their job title and need for scrubs, are trying to maintain and care for the health and well-being of others. The Fat Tax sends a message that plus-size individuals are not welcome in specific roles, making it difficult for them to feel confident and comfortable.
As a student already trying to learn a field of study, it has brought forth more concern about my abilities in my role for the following year. One way to combat the Fat Tax is to shop from brands that do not charge extra for plus-size clothing items. If you are an organization requiring scrubs, offer your employees or students resources that offer equitably priced items.
Some brands are committed to size inclusivity and provide a wide range of sizes at the same price. Do your research and be fierce about shopping around. By supporting these brands, we can send a message to retailers that the Fat Tax is unacceptable and that we demand size inclusivity in all areas of fashion and clothing, including scrubs.
Through some deep diving on the internet and recommendations from friends, I did find a brand that did not charge extra for my size, came in hunter green, and was cut right, but I had to order directly from their site; most scrub uniform websites upcharge on the extended sizes – including the brand that I found. The Fat Tax is an unfair and toxic practice affecting individuals in many ways. As consumers, it is up to us to demand change and support brands committed to size inclusivity. Doing so can create a more equal and accepting world for all body types, including those who wear plus-size scrubs.
Christel, D. A., & Dunn, S. C. (2016). Average american women's clothing size: Comparing national health and nutritional examination surveys (1988–2010) to astm international misses & women's plus size clothing. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 10(2), 129–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2016.1214291
Greenleaf, C. (2019, October 2). https://doi.org/10.1177/0887302X198785
I'm Valerie, Yoga Teacher and following my Sankalpa!