When I opened the front door, my mother handed me four cases of yogurt. All strawberry. She doesn't notice flavors. Coffee, vanilla, blueberry - they don't mean a thing. I asked her how much I owed her, and she told me that with the coupons, and how she used them on double-down day, that she actually made money off the purchase. I told her I didn't see how such a thing was possible, and she explained that the yogurts were a buck apiece and her coupons were for 75 cents. Doubled, that's $1.50.
"I make 50 cents off each one I buy," she said.
She was excited because she had a project for the two of us: a defective shirt that needed exchanging. She got it from a clothing store near my house that has been around for decades. When I was a kid, my mother would bring me there to try on bell-bottoms, making me undress right in the aisles.
"What's wrong with the shirt?" I asked.
It should be said that my father has left the house in far worse: green corduroy vests, T-shirts advertising aquarium supplies, ties intended for novelty use only. If it were handed to him as he was getting out of a shower, I'm sure my father would figure out a way to wear a bridge chair. I asked how a missing sleeve might have escaped her notice during the purchase. She didn't remember. She bought it a long time ago.
"How long ago?" I asked.
She didn't really get the question. Life for my mother wasn't exactly a chronological unraveling. She was coming to visit me. I was around the corner from the store. It was just a clever thing to return it now - killing two birds with one stone. She looked at the bag and thought for a moment.
"Five years," she said.
This kind of operation was what my mother lived for. It would be a challenge; a battle of wills - a game of chess, but with yelling. I remember as a kid watching her open three bottles of tahini, one after the other. She wasn't satisfied with the hermetic popping sound the caps made - it was too muted. She liked a pop that was more emphatic, a pop that cried, "I have not been sprinkled with hemlock." She returned all of them to a grocery store she chose not because she'd bought the tahini there, but because of its proximity to our house. The store didn't sell tahini. I'm not sure they even knew what it was.
To be honest, it isn't that my mother exerts Clarence Darrow-like powers of persuasion; it's that she has no shame. None at all. As an adult, I seem to have taken on the extra shame she has no use for. I don't like to draw attention to myself. If a waitress gets my order wrong, I keep my mouth shut. If a bus driver goes past my stop, I just get off at the next one. Scenes just aren't my thing. But even now, no matter where I go with my mother, there are always the inevitable spectacles. Just the thought of her getting all froth-mouthed about that one-armed shirt - it was enough to make me queasy.
At the store, my mother went to the cash register and pulled the article of clothing out of the crumpled plastic bag.
The saleswoman looked at it. Then she held it up and turned it around.
"It doesn't have sleeves," the saleswoman said. "It's a poncho."
"A pon-cho?" my mother repeated, as though it were a foreign word - which, in her defense, I suppose it sort of is.
You would think that would be the end of it, that confronted with reason, my mother would accept the fact that we live in a universe where such a thing as a poncho exists, and we would leave. But this was not to happen. Reason is of no concern in a staring contest. "I don't care what it is," she said evenly. "It's factory-defective. My husband can't wear it."
I thought of my father, a man very big on tucking in - sweaters, aquarium-supply T-shirts - packing the bottom of the poncho into his pants, belting up and heading out for an evening on the town looking like Fatty Arbuckle.
The saleswoman refused to give the money back, so my mother asked her to get the manager. She disappeared behind a row of suit jackets and as we waited for her return, I remained by my mother's side, standing there in this way I later realized I had developed as a kid. It was a posture that was meant to convey filial loyalty, peppered with a touch of what Vietnam vets call the thousand-yard stare. In the back room, I imagined the saleswoman conferring with the manager, a bedraggled, shiny-jowled man, as he stared at my mother through a security cam, watching with a look of recognition that quickly turned to panic.
When the saleswoman returned, she immediately started offering store credit. That was a mistake. Weakness. "Credit? So you can unload socks on us?" my mother asked. "We need more socks like we need rickets."
Desperate to defuse the situation, I grabbed a baseball cap off a nearby shelf and handed it to my mother. Reluctantly, she got it for me with her credit. "Lucky for you my boy needs a hat," she said. "Walk around in it. Make sure it isn't too tight around the temples."
As we left the store together, my new cap on my head, I felt about 10 years old. "I'll hold on to the receipt," my mother said. "Just in case."
SAN FRANCISCO --
Old Navy is taking heat over the price of its women's plus-sized clothes. The trouble started when a customer noticed the retailer was charging more for the women's plus-sized line but not doing the same for men.
Old Navy shoppers will find the same price tag on a pair of regular size two jeans and size 18 jeans. The Old Navy plus-size line is only available online, and that's where customers are noticing a double-digit price difference. Men's clothing is consistent regardless of the size.
The outcry against Old Navy pricing practices started with New York resident Renee Posey. While shopping online, she realized that plus-sized pants were $12 to $15 more.
According to her Change.org petition, Posey says she was fine paying the extra money because she figured it accounted for the additional fabric, until she looked at the large men's sizes and saw the price never changed.
The petition, which now has more than 34,000 signatures, questions why women are forced to pay more when men are not.
Old Navy's parent company, GAP Inc., attributes the increased cost to a separate design team dedicated to the plus-size line.
The company's statement reads in part: "While we don't make more money on our plus-size line, our plus-size clothes cost more because we invest more in them."
Many of the people who signed Posey's Change.org petition don't buy that reasoning. Time will tell whether they continue to buy clothes at Old Navy.
From Huff Po:
All Renee Posey wanted was to buy some pants at OldNavy.com. Now, she’s talking with Old Navy executives to try and change the way the store sells and prices its plus-size line.
While perusing Old Navy’s website earlier this month, Posey, who works on a mental health crisis response team in New York state, discovered that the apparel brand was charging extra for plus-size women’s clothes, but not for plus-size men’s clothes. Some of the plus-size women's trousers were priced at $10 or more above their smaller counterparts. Men’s pants, in contrast, were all the same price, no matter the size.
“It absolutely struck a nerve with me,” Posey, 34, told The Huffington Post. “As a plus-size woman, I've always been fine paying more for clothing, but then when I saw the men weren’t paying more, that just doesn't hold water.”
With modest expectations, Posey posted a petition on customers started speaking out against what they saw as a double standard.. She figured that some friends would take notice and sign it. But in just over one week, the petition racked up nearly 100,000 signatures, and many
She had Old Navy’s attention.
Earlier this week, Posey hopped on a conference call with three senior executives from Old Navy and Gap, Old Navy's parent company. She tried to convince them to change their plus-size policies.
The company explained in a statement to HuffPost and other media outlets that it charges more for women’s plus-size clothes because of extra features -- stretch materials and contoured waistbands -- that aren’t added to menswear.
“These clothes are specifically designed and manufactured to fit and flatter our valued customers,” said Debbie Felix, a spokeswoman for Old Navy. “While we don’t make more money on our plus-size line, our plus-size clothes cost more because we invest more in them.”
Plus-size clothing is hardly a niche market. A large share of American women wear plus sizes -- generally size 14 or 16 and up. In the U.S., the average woman age 20 and over has a 37.5-inch waist, according to data released in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Old Navy’s plus-size catalog begins at 37.75 inches.
The plight of the plus-size shopper is well-documented. According to a 2012 report from research firm NPD Group, the majority of plus-size women say they have problems locating the clothing styles they want, and that it’s hard to find garments that fit correctly. Some larger shoppers have described feeling limited to specialty shops, like Lane Bryant and Torrid, for all their clothes.
Recognizing this, mainstream fashion retailers for the past few years have been trying to accommodate more plus-size customers. Fast-fashion juggernaut H&M launched its plus-size line, H&M+, in 2012. Forever 21 added plus-size clothes under the F21+ moniker to cater to larger teens. Even Abercrombie & Fitch, long criticized for shunning bigger shoppers, has begun to sell some plus-size clothes. But the movement hasn’t spread enough to satisfy many plus-size shoppers who’ve long felt ostracized.
“Plus-size women want fashion,” said Posey. “But I think a lot of retailers are missing the mark.”
Plus-size clothes are often pricier than their smaller counterparts. Clothing companies have argued that the larger items require more fabric and need to accommodate a wide variety of body shapes, thus costing more money to make. Separate plus-size lines can allow for hiked prices, but some brands sell extended sizes without making the distinction. The Gap brand, for instance, offers some XXL women's clothing that could be considered plus-size for the same price as smaller garments.
“Producing a plus-size piece of women’s clothing is operationally more complex than simply making an article of clothing bigger,” said Margaret Bogenrief, the founder of boutique financial advisory firm ACM Partners, which offers retail consulting. “Patterns must be changed and machinery reset before the production line begins.”
An employee organizes clothing at an Old Navy Inc. store in Santa Monica, California, U.S. (Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Old Navy only carries plus-size clothes online -- the physical stores stopped carrying larger sizes in 2007 and have stopped accepting returns on plus-size clothes purchased at the website. Plus-sized clothes must be mailed back. Most regular-sized Old Navy clothes purchased online can be returned at a store.
Posey said that during the call, she asked Gap to start putting together a plan to address the concerns of customers who've communicated with her about what they want. They want Gap to re-evaluate its prices for the plus-size women’s line, Posey said she told Gap. They want to be able to return plus-size women’s merchandise bought online to stores. And they want a bigger selection of trendy pieces in the plus-size department.
But Posey hung up the phone dissatisfied, she said, because the executives didn’t promise any concrete changes.
“I appreciate that they’re trying to work with us,” Posey told HuffPost after the call. “That’s a good thing. But I really think they need to take some action.”
Old Navy declined to comment on the meeting with Posey.
Discouraged but not defeated, Posey plans to amp up the pressure. She’s encouraging her supporters to light up social media and borrow an Old Navy hashtag to make the statement: “Discrimination is not #OldNavyStyle.”
“I am in awe of the power that so many voices can have when they speak up in unison!” Posey wrote to supporters of her petition. “If we continue, if we keep talking about this and not letting up, Gap Inc., and through them, the rest of the industry, will have to listen.”
From Bass Lady:
Alert RHU! Be on the lookout for this crusty and her pocket rat:
From The Somking Gun:
Meet Theresa Tumbleson.
Police are on the lookout for the 35-year-old New Jerseyan, who allegedly allowed her small dog to urinate on 14 dresses and 11 pairs on pants at a clothing store.
According to investigators, Tumbleson and her pooch yesterday entered a Lane Bryant store in Toms River around 1 PM. The dog, cops report, proceeded to urinate on the garments, causing more than $2000 in damages.
As officers arrived at Lane Bryant, Tumbleson sped away in her Chevrolet Malibu, eventually running several red lights while being pursued by police. Due to the wet roadway and a fear that the pursuit could imperil others, cops discontinued the chase of Tumbleson, who is pictured above.
In addition to charges stemming from the Lane Bryant incident, Tumbleson will face counts for eluding police and obstruction when she is apprehended. Bail has already been set at $30,000 for the latter charges.
Victoria's Secret is under fire for an advertisement featuring models in skimpy lingerie, but it's not the photos causing controversy.
It's the words in the ad -- three small, but powerful words -- "the perfect body."
The ad features the same models you see in TV commercials, but the phrase is printed across the pictures.
Many say that sends a damaging message to women that everyone should look like the models.
"When someone looks at that, the tendency is to measure themselves against that ad," body image expert Sarah Maria said.
Critics started an online petition demanding Victoria's Secret change the words.
Victoria's Secret says the word "body" actually refers to a line of lingerie called "Body by Victoria."
It did not respond to the petition as of yet. However, the ad was still up on the company website on Thursday.