Have you ever looked on Instagram and seen an someone with a “perfect” body with a “perfect” face and wished you looked like her? Sadly, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Today, 88% of women have said that they’ve compared themselves to images in the media. Society has set a stigma on what is deemed attractive. This detrimental standard set by influencers and businesses has affected many easily-influenced young women’s mental health.
It is a fact that everyone has different bodies with different needs, so why should we alter our bodies according to society's standards? Julie Allen, the founder of Mary Rose Boutique, started her company in early 2018, hoping to change the social stigma of clothing sizes. Julie had just given birth to her first child when she went clothes shopping and realized that there was nothing that fit her. She explains how the small range of sizes has pushed not only her but many to accept the diet culture to fit into clothes.
Besides opening an inclusive sizing store named after her mom’s middle name, as a victim of anorexia and bulimia, she also felt the need to start an organization to empower youths to love and accept their bodies. We luckily got the chance to interview such a truly inspiring woman for The Good Blog this week! Read further to find out what you can do to change the social stigma of mental health and why inclusive sizing is important for retail stores.
1. Tell us about your journey and what inspired you to start up Mary Rose?
I founded Mary Rose Boutique after having my first child. Prior to this, I worked as a Physical Therapist Asst in post-acute rehab. I was 6 weeks postpartum and decided it was a good idea to go clothes shopping (PSA…it’s not!). I remember being in the fitting room and trying on all the clothes. Nothing fit, my baby was screaming, and I started to cry. The messages that surrounded me in all the stores were that something was wrong with me because my clothing wasn’t fitting my body. I decided that I wanted to open a store that would be different. A safe place for people of all bodies to feel comfortable shopping. Mary Rose was born a year after this experience.
2. Why is it important for retail clothing stores to have inclusive sizing?
Approximately 70% of people identifying as women in the States wear a size 14 or above. And the vast majority of slow fashion brands carry up to a size large, maybe an XL at best. We live in a society obsessed with dieting and fitting our bodies into an “ideal” form. This obsession is diet culture. Diet culture equates living in a smaller body with moral superiority. Thin equals good, and fat equals bad. To dismantle this system of oppression, clothing stores must become more inclusive on every level. Exclusion is nothing new in the fashion industry but it is well past time that it should change.
3. Do you think that there is a stigma toward people with mental health issues? What can the world do to change that?
Stigmas around mental health absolutely still exist in our society. There continues to be so much shame associated with asking for help. Our society has come a long way over the last several years in terms of destigmatizing mental health, but people continue to struggle in silence. The first step in changing this is being willing to talk about it. Be willing to have these difficult conversations that are not pleasant. Be uncomfortable. And don’t leave the room. Acknowledging your own struggles, and sitting with other people in theirs is how we can continue to change the shame associated with mental illness.
4. 6 months after opening your boutique, you started the Mary Rose Foundation. Could you please tell us the impact of the organization?
The Mary Rose Foundation began as a way to help fund eating disorder treatment for those struggling with the financial burden of accessing treatment. I struggled with anorexia and bulimia for 15 years growing up, and for me to go to treatment, my parents took out a second mortgage on their house. Eating disorder treatment costs upwards of $2,000 a day, and most people require 2-3 months of treatment. Treatment is imperative in saving lives. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, with estimates of up to 20% of people eventually dying from the disease, with a large portion of those deaths being by suicide. The Mary Rose Foundation works to provide life-saving eating disorder scholarships for those struggling. We also developed education/outreach programs geared towards teens/tweens that take the form of body-positive art groups intending to empower our youth to love and accept themselves as they are. A portion of all sales from the boutique are donated to the nonprofit.
5. What are you working on for 2022 and beyond that you want us to know about?
Our biggest project for 2022 has been launching our own clothing line, Hope Continues! After switching our entire boutique from fast fashion to slow fashion in early 2021, we recognized how few clothing brands exist that are both sustainable and size-inclusive. Hope Continues inspires humans in all bodies to embrace the Goddess within. Our designs are easy to wear, simplistic, made from sustainable materials, ethically produced, and curated for the sexy minimalist. Our Spring/Summer line is a 7-piece capsule collection available in sizes 5X-XS, and we are so proud of it. All the pieces are available on our website, www.maryroseboutique.com.
Mary Rose boutique is a strong role model for many retail businesses, including us! The Good Tee has been working towards being size inclusive by including sizes XS-XXL and is hoping to carry more sizes soon. Mary Rose Boutique continues to inspire us. However, as a small company working offshore, it is costly and difficult for us to manage factory sizing minimums. Our goal in the near future is to add more sizes eventually to cater to more Good People. With its mission of ensuring its customers feel comfortable in their own skin while shopping, The Good Tee is honored to be part of its journey in achieving its goal by having them carry our brand in their store.
To shop their Hope Continues collection and find out more about Mary Rose Boutique, click the links below!