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Lani Renaldo Headshot

An Open Letter to Brandy Melville

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Dear Brandy,          

My name is Lani Renaldo. I'm a 18 year-old girl who enjoys fashion. While I may not be an expert in high fashion, I do know that I have enjoyed Brandy Melville's clothing and get excited each time I step into the store. After all, what girl from the age of 12, and even older, doesn't include Brandy in her wardrobe? I mean, that's just unheard of. Unthinkable! It just wouldn't occur unless... none of the shirts fit over your chest, or you couldn't squeeze your curves into the tiny-sized jean shorts, that quite frankly never cover your rear end. Of course, if that is a problem for you, you could always try Sears. Except, several girls, including myself, who are slightly curvy, don't want to try Sears. What about us?

I've bought clothes from Brandy in the past and with those few sweaters and "one size fits all" tank tops I had to settle with being content with the fact that I found at least something that I could take home from Brandy. In all honesty, I hope to model for Brandy in the future -- but the only problem is that currently, this isn't possible.

Please take a look at just a few things: One, the clothes at Brandy are not really one size fits all; and two, all the models look the same, despite the company stating that they look for, "diverse, California girls." That just is not true.

Why is it that all the Brandy models must look the same? I mean, flat-chested, fair skinned, blonde hair... yes, you find these girls in California, but if we're talking about diversity, this isn't. Not EVERY single girl in California is represented in this look. Also, if the company continues to fuel this stereotype as the single Brandy conception of beauty, then girls who aren't blonde-haired, blue-eyed stick figures have no chance of being a part of the company. This practice is misleading and unfair.

The cute styles and promise of diversity get girls hopes up and then the reality of the matter comes crashing down on them. I remember when Brandy did an open casting call in Santa Monica, Calif. Being curious, I went to the Santa Monica store, watching as girls of all different looks line up in a queue that continued on for blocks away from the store. Unfortunately, almost all of the girls got turned away. In the notice online, the company stated that they were looking for, "The perfect girl who embodies the best of BRANDY!"

Now, I ask this, what does that entail? A girl from California? A girl who enjoys fashion? Someone who wears graphic tees and skinny jeans? Nowhere do you explicitly say that girls of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and cultures aren't accepted. ALL girls should be accepted -- unless that doesn't embody the brand, and in that case, I feel the truth should be told. If the brand doesn't accept certain types that don't fall under the category of being a thin, Caucasian girl, that should be told. It is easy to interpret that casting post in many different ways and unless you provide clear information on what the brand wants, then girls with curves and different looks will feel they are qualified. The girls chosen from the open call were, however exclusively thin, Caucasian girls.

Another issue I have experienced with Brandy is that "one size fits all" clothing is advertised, but again, this is misleading unless you fall under the SPECIFIC category of being THIN enough to fit the clothing! In buying clothing from Brandy, I've been limited to long tank-tops, due to the fact that I have a large chest size.

Now, I understand that this isn't a problem for a MAJORITY of girls (I'm sure the girls that are smaller appreciate this brand, especially because it caters to their needs) but think about the many others who may have a different shape. It doesn't ever feel good to be an outcast and by not offering several sizes, or opening up to a different array of models, this company is separating and almost purposely making the girls with chests and curves feel like minorities and outcasts. Not only is this not okay, but it just isn't right. Why does Brandy do this? Why is it that the only articles of clothing that girls who aren't a part of the stereotype can wear are sweaters, long skirts and tank tops?

I'm proud to live in a generation where girls can speak their mind and flaunt their femininity. I'm proud to have role models like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lawrence, who are constantly questioning their world around them and speaking out on their truths of and being themselves. It is important to me, to be a leader in this cause and as a girl that doesn't necessarily share the same body type as a majority of my friends, I think it's important for girls to be able to embrace our bodies and be okay with whatever size or shape they we are.

But with Brandy making clothing that leaves us as outcasts, this simply isn't possible. Brandy surely would not want to soon fall into social suicide and become the next Abercrombie and Fitch or Lululemon. If you think about it, companies like H&M and Forever 21 have opened up to bigger sizes and have generated profitable business in doing so. When we shop there we are free from second guessing our beauty and our curves. Imagine if Brandy did the same for its girls.

Think about this, would you?

Sincerely,

Lani