So, I went shopping for pants last weekend, or rather I tried to go shopping for pants last weekend. I walked into one of the fancy shops at the Distrito Arcos (because I don’t play when it comes to pants), pull a couple pairs off the shelves, and shuffle into the dressing room. None of them fit. I can’t even get them over my knees. Not even the largest size of pants they have is reasonable enough to fit my body.
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you. Yeah, I thought so. According to a survey by NGO Anybody Argentina, nearly 70 percent of Argentine women have trouble finding clothing in their size. Since 2011, Anybody Argentina has been working to help women find more clothing in their sizes. Last week, Anybody published its annual Directorio de Marcas de Indumentaria, the only comprehensive guide to which clothing brands feature a variety of sizes while also offering a commitment to model diversity and no digital image retouching or editing in their branding.
The goal of the directory is to prevent women from having to spend hours sorting through stores, and sifting through sizes that won’t fit. In fact, Anybody is the only organization publishing research or doing advocacy work on the topic of size inclusion in Argentina.
With the publication of its latest edition of the Directorio de Marcos de Indumentaria, small but mighty Anybody Argentina celebrates its latest victory in a string of successful campaigns and projects over the past six months. The organization’s growth has been spectacular, and Director Sharon Haywood sees even more room to grow in 2019. The Bubble had the opportunity to sit down with the NGO’s founder and director to both rehash the victories of the year and discuss the goals as the team heads into 2019.
“When I founded Anybody Argentina there was hardly any content in Spanish to deal with fat acceptance or body positivity,” Haywood explains. “Now there’s such a plethora from all the different social media sites and Argentines have really grown in terms of finding their voice and expressing their discontent and anger against the messages that they’ve received and the expectations that people have to live up to in terms of having a particular body.”
In the past five months, Anybody Argentina, with its 11 person, part-time staff, has attended or hosted twelve events, successfully gotten the Senate to sign a declaration committing to a federal unified size law, successfully gotten both Apple and Amazon app stores to remove plastic surgery-based games from its platforms, and released results for its 2018 Size Survey. Not to mention that it maintains an active social media presence, not just for the sake of clicks, but with meaningful, well-curated, body-positive content to send a specific advocacy message to its community of followers.
National Size Law
The most anticipated win of the year was definitely the aforementioned relaunch of a campaign to create a federal unified size law, and then eventual signing of a dictamen in the Senate as a commitment to advance the national size law, after a presentation of results from their in-house produced research, the Encuesta de Talle 2017, and personal testimonies from members. “To really have legislation that will function as it’s intended to, it needs to be focused and based on Argentine bodies, and it needs to be national and coherent,” explains Haywood.
But what is the unified size law, exactly? Currently in Argentina, there are 14 different provincial size laws that dictate mandatory sizing for clothing brands, meaning there are some provinces without any legislation at all. Many companies across Argentina benefit from only selling clothes to certain clientele, and perpetuate harmful body image norms by only having a certain type of body be able to wear and buy its products. Not to mention, this also leads to huge disparities in sizes available from store to store, province to province.
Anybody Argentina proposes national metrics for how many sizes must be offered for any store that sells clothing. This would help to eliminate the struggles a majority of Argentines surveyed are facing. The 2018 survey results are also in line with seven years of national size surveys, which are available on the NGO’s website.
The dictamen also includes a commitment from the Senate to support the completion of a national biometric anthropometric study by the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (National Institute for Industrial Technology) which would survey the average body statistics of Argentines. This type of data collection is long overdue and its data could be used not only for a national size law, but also for architecture, housing, hospitality, transit, and more. Anywhere Argentines sit, stand, or wait in line is somewhere that could make use of the data from this survey. “We can’t move forward with this national size law, or any size law, without having the anthropometric study finished, so we actually know which measurements and sizes are the average for Argentine bodies,” concludes Haywood.
However, the study isn’t the only type of research done on sizing in the country. Each year since 2012, Anybody Argentina has held its national size survey, the first of its kind, often cited in books, papers, and legislative documents. This year, with the largest sample size yet, they surveyed over eight thousand Argentines about their experience shopping for clothes, and how it makes consumers feel about their bodies. For the past seven years, the responses have shown that sizes available in most stores now aren’t working for more and more citizens. Over 65 percent of Argentines surveyed have issues finding clothing in their size.
On the continuation of this issue, Haywood noted: “Here [in Argentina] there is this real commitment to attaining a certain kind of body, whether that’s through weight loss or surgical procedures. There is still a lot of fatphobia, sizeism, victim blaming, neoliberal attitudes of ‘you need to lose weight if you want to fit into the clothes’ and the idea that this isn’t an industry problem.”
She stresses that this is a systemic industry issue that women face all across the country, as a result of destructive norms of beauty and body image. Anybody has been working on sending a message that these norms cannot be allowed to continue to cause harm. In fact, at the beginning of December, the organization declared victory on their #SurgeryIsNotaGame campaign to remove game apps on the Apple Store depicting plastic surgery and other vanity procedures, targeted toward children. After a Change.org petition with over 150,000 signatures and a social media campaign targeted at Apple’s social media platforms, all vanity surgery-based games disappeared from the platform.
Porque la belleza viene en todos los talles, porque eso no te define, porque vos estás bien y es la sociedad la que está mal, porque nos gustas tal cual sos.¡Porque no hay que estandarizar la diversidad!Créditos: Sofia Arraiza (Guión), Paula Rossi (Dirección), Mariana Solis (Producción), Laura Bountempo (Asistente de dirección), Matias Perez (Dirección de fotografía), Cecilia Albarracin (Dirección de arte), Yamila Genaisir (Cámara), Candela Capusso (Sonido) y Lucia Peralta (Montaje)
Posted by AnyBody Argentina on Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Looking to the Future
On the tail of the success of this campaign, I asked Haywood where she sees the organization going in the next six months. “We’re going to be optimistic and say that the bill will be passed [in 2019] and once it is, we’re going to be working on providing our recommendations and providing input on how the law is implemented.” This goes hand-in-hand with the organization’s ideas to grow its brand directory and strengthen relationships with existing brands. “We want to make a commitment to support brands in these acts, that could be with collaborative campaigns on the ground and online. We’ve been very clear that local businesses that are going to be affected by the law need to receive economic support from the government, in order for them to make the initial investment.”
When asked about where she sees Anybody Argentina going in the next five years, Haywood emphasizes relationship building. “When I launched Anybody in 2011, there were only five of us, and I remember writing an article where I described feeling like minnows in a tsunami. I don’t feel like that anymore. We’ve grown to become the experts on these issues, particularly on the topic of size law. [The growth is] a cumulative effect of all the work we’ve been doing. We’ve also got to the point where people in government acknowledge that a national size law makes sense. There’s more of us, we’ve built momentum, and in conjunction with the growing feminism movement here in Argentina, which isn’t going away, it’s only getting stronger, and our work is strengthened along with it.”