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Season 1 Episode 3: The Toxic Work Culture of City Chic




DEMI: We at Faternise pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the Meanjin land.

We acknowledge that we are on the stolen lands of the Jagera and Turrbal people whose sovereignty was never ceded.


DEMI: Is this thing on? Hello, beautiful humans. Welcome back to another episode of

Faternise, Australia's only plus size community podcast. I'm your host, Demi Lynch, and today's episode is dedicated to a certain brand, a certain store that all plus size people in Australia will be aware of - City Chic. Now, after briefly ranting about City Chic with my guest Jaimie Nicole,

in my first episode, I thought, why not have an entire episode dedicated to the many issues that comes with City Chic? So on today's show, we have former City Chic employee and now body positive photographer, Chayla Taylor. There was so much to talk about, so much so that we recorded way over time. So get ready for all the rants, my friends. Grab some popcorn, pull up a

chair, because you're about to listen to two former City Chic employees go all out towards Australia's biggest plus size brand,


DEMI: Chayla Taylor, my dear, welcome to the Faternise podcast. I am so happy to have you

here.


CHAYLA: Thank you so much for having me. I hope you are all ready for some

neurodivergent, chaotic info-dumping.


DEMI: Yes, always, my dear, always. As soon as you appeared on the comments section of my City Chic post, I'm just like, oh, honey, we have some words to share. We have some topics to digest. This is it. Yes.


CHAYLA: Last year, I made, like, a few TikToks about my experience working there, but I ended up having to delete my account and start again, so they’re not out in the world anymore.


DEMI: Oh, so this is exclusive, then? So before we kick off the show with that juicy topic, as always, when I bring my guests onto the show, we share how we're feeling about our bodies, because obviously our journeys for body positivity body neutrality, it's never linear, it's never straight. It's all over the place. So, my dear, how are you feeling about your body today? Is it a bit of a yay, bit of a nay?


CHAYLA: It’s a yay day for me today. I'm a big believer in dopamine dressing, so I feel really cute today. I went and met with a new PT place this morning and was like, I don't want any talk about

weight loss, changing how my body looks. I want to feel fucking strong and I want to turn up with an iced chocolate and not have anybody try and make me feel bad about it. And they were

like, oh my God, we love you. And so it was like a great even though I'm a bit sore from moving house, I am feeling really great today.


DEMI: Oh, I love that so much. That's what you need. You need a PT that's going to support you and that has the same value. Not like that's going to make us feel shitty about yourself

and just be like, oh, no, because you're fat, your only goal must be lose weight, not get strong, not become more pain free, not anything else. I love it. Love it so much. I think for me, how am I

feeling about it? I think today is just a bit meh. I think I've just been too busy to even consider my

body. But you know what? It's been getting me through this week. My mental health has just been a bit all over the place. So I've just kind of just been like, all right, any hateful thoughts about my body? We're going to push to the back of my head because I don't have time for it. I'm too busy. I'm too preoccupied to even go there.


CHAYLA: I think of it like if my best friend texted me and says, I am feeling really gluggy and like a bit slow and sore today, what would I say? And that's how I try and have my internal dialogue. So if I mentally tested myself, I've got a few pulled muscles from moving house, I'd be like, well, they just look after yourself today. Drink some water, rest if you need to, and that's all you can do. Don't

push yourself too hard because you're just going to make it worse. So that's how I always try and

treat myself.


DEMI: I love that. That's such an important sentiment. I love it. Yeah. So we're going to talk about it. We're going to talk about City Chic. My recent post about City Chic, it went kind of viral. And for those that didn't see it, basically, it was a post calling out City Chic, basically, and just saying,

anyone else just feeling a bit meh about them? And I spoke about it briefly with Jaimie Nicole, who we love, who we do shout out Jaimie. I spoke about with her on my first episode of Faternise. And I've just received so many DMs, so many comments, including you, my dear.


CHAYLA: This is my time.This is my moment.


DEMI: So I thought, you know what, let's bring on a whole episode dedicated to City Chic. And why not have an episode featuring two former employees.


CHAYLA: I started working there in 2011, so I'm based in WA. And I'm really lucky. The friendships that I made from there. So, like, four of my closest friends were all former employees. Some of them stayed for longer than me. They got to ten years or they were already working there when I started and they didn't leave until after I had left. But a lot of them, it's like will never go into retail again because we're so scarred from the experience. So I was a casual, became part time, became an assistant manager, was a manager, went on maternity leave, came back. So I

worked in quite a few different stores and I had three different regional managers in my time

there. And it went from being a place where I felt celebrated to a place where I felt so

emotionally burnt out and I cried every day before work. I got to work, open the emails, burst into tears, cried for a good 10-15 minutes, and then had to spend the rest of the day being lovely to

customers. I'm not the only one who's had that experience. It’s actually a Facebook group where the City Chic slogan is like a ‘world of curves.’ And somebody called [the Facebook group] ‘a

world of trauma.’


DEMI: Oh, I need to find this group. This is my home. This is my place. Yes.


CHAYLA: When I made TikToks about it, the amount of people who contacted me and said

I was treated the same, and it was happening in other states. And that's why I think it's important to talk about, like, your workplace culture happens from the top down. And so they were in other states being treated the exact same because they would have been getting the same emails from head office, they were getting the same treatment and the same lack of support and HR and everything. So City Chic used to be owned by a group called SFG. Specialty Fashion Group.

And so they owned Autograph, Katie’s, Millers, City Chic. A little while ago, they broke away from Specialty Fashion Group and City Chic's now its own thing. But it's very interesting watching the

progress since I've left, how their business model has been shifting but still not catering to

their actual customers. That's the most frustrating thing.


DEMI: Yes, for people that because many people probably listening to this might not

have ever worked at City Chic, people that have worked there, as soon as they hear

email, they're just like, oh, that email. Because every morning when you go into the store, like any other retail store, you set up, open up the computer, get the register or sort of stuff like that.


CHAYLA: Unpaid time.


DEMI: Unpaid time, of course. Of course. You always have to get there early and not get paid for that time of setting up. Always be the air-cons would not be on yet and the store will always

be bloody hot. Especially the change rooms are always hot. But there would be this email that you get every single time, and it was the biggest email, and not just for you to read, but you have to send back all this information and then you have to take photos of yourself and the girls and be like, have some quote with it. And you'll be like, have to add a funny gif in there. Like, it'd just be so much

before your shift even started so much every day.


CHAYLA:

The thing is that the business wasn't as profitable and then they started, instead of going, look at who is the captain of the ship, where are they steering it? They would blame the people on the floor

and say, everything's your fault. Never mind that they never ever use models that are the actual size of their garments. So everything used to be fitted on to the main model for City Chic for years and everything was fitted to her. And so if it didn't quite fit her, then it wouldn't fit other people and they kind of graded up from there because the problem I always have with City Chic is the shoulders are too big in everything. Like, the shoulder would be this much higher than where I am and I'd be like, what the fuck? This doesn't make any sense. But they fitted everything on her and then when she didn't want to be the model anymore, she wanted to become the jeans designer. That's when the stuff with the sizing started to get fucked. Like when I was moving house I found like, bags of clothes from years ago and I have an extra small City Chic dress that still fits me and the items I'm buying at the moment are large. And I'm like, how does this fucking make sense? And as a manager, you go to these managers meetings, right? And so at a manager's meeting, you would have the CEOs there, people who work in head office, that sort of thing. And they say that they're like all about celebrating plus size, but it was always fashion first, plus size second. So the fact that they catered to a plus size market was just a convenient way to stand out in the industry. It wasn't really about wanting to serve them. For years they talked about going smaller rather than larger, so they wanted to meet the gap between straight sizes and plus sizes. So around the time that they were looking to go to America, this is when I became a manager. When I went on maternity leave and in that time, the store that I managed hit $1.1 million for the year and it was a very busy store and then so they decided to open a lot more stores. So they had all these managers meetings where they would talk about the goals for the company. So they wanted to bring City Chic to America and they put them in all of these department stores in America called Nordstrom and it had done quite

well. Their goal was to go to California and the population of California is the same as all of Australia. So 25 million people live in one state in America. I think some people think America is the same size as us, but population density much bigger. And so their goal was to have as many stores in that one state as they have here in Australia, so 100 stores in California and then to take over the plus size market there. But in America, plus sizes start from what we would call a size

twelve. So that's why they wanted to bring the sizing down instead of extending the sizing up, because they saw because it's just about making money. And so there's 2XL available at City Chic, but it’s only ever online. And so at the manager's meeting we would ask questions like, why is this

size not in store? I get clients asking for it, wanting it, especially in jeans. People wanted the size 24 and we would never have them in stock. And I was like in a room for other managers when they basically said people that size don't have money, they won't spend that money, they'll just go to Kmart. And I was like, how do you know they don't have money if they don’t know that the size is available? Like that was mind blowing. So they saw this size twelve market as a very profitable,

we can get money from these people. But then the other end of the scale, they would be like, well, we're not going to show models in that size ever. We're going to heavily photoshop our models into oblivion and then we're also not going to stock them in stores because we don't want their money. That's why it’s like they're about money and about fashion first before they're about plus size. They're just like, we just happen to be plus size. And it's like, no, you want to be an industry leader but you also want to promote like not embracing your size. It's very frustrating because even like the mannequins they would supply in the stores, we had to pin the dresses back onto them to make them fit.


DEMI: I had to do that too.


CHAYLA:

Yes. And it was like, I still have one of my old big City Chic mannequins and the extra small sometimes would be too small on them because they were a larger size. And then they brought in these new thinner mannequins that we had to pin the extra smalls back onto. And that's supposed to be a 14, like extra small? Yeah, it was ridiculous.

The thing about these emails from head office is that they would make you create these action plans and they were actively blaming the staff for the company not performing well. So if the clothes didn't sell because they had designed them, that was somehow our fault. And if they had issues or if clothes turned up moldy, which happened all the time, oh yes, the jeans would arrive wet and moldy, that was somehow our fault. And we needed to create action plans around it. And so as a manager, I was creating like a great profit for the business, but I wasn't really valued as a person. I won this competition within the company to fly to Sydney for the opening of this flagship store in Sydney. So they literally put me on, like a 6:00 a.m flight. I arrived in Sydney in the afternoon, went to this big party, and then they flew me back that night. I didn't even get to sleep. But anyway, at this party, they pointed like, a video camera at me and said, how has working at City Sheet changed your life? And to me, I had just won this competition, so I was like, oh, it's completely changed my life. I'm so confident in myself now. Blah, blah, blah. They took that video and used it as a marketing technique on their website for staff to apply and to recruit in America. And they didn't even spell my name right. Like, that's how little they actually valued me as a person. They wouldn't even spell my name correctly. But they never told me what the video was being used for. It

was like they just took it and were like, oh, yeah, we'll use this to recruit people in the US. And

they didn't even tell me. I found out about it online. I was like, oh, my God. And it was just like they didn't really care about me. When I went on maternity leave, it was as if I died. They were like, oh, well, she's gone. And then when I wanted to come back and I was still breastfeeding my baby, and I said, Well, I need to express my breast milk. They were like, Why? And I'm like, 99% of this company is women, but they had no legislation or anything workplace HR, nothing in place about

breastfeeding mothers. And so my regional manager was like, Will you just take that as your tea break? And I was like, no, actually, the law says pumping breaks are different to tea breaks. They didn’t even know the law. It was like I was the first person in the history of City Chic to want to express my breast milk. And it was like, well, we had to have a fridge for storage so that I could store things, and some stores had nowhere for me to be able to express breastfeed. And my regional was like, can't you go to the toilets and do that? And I was like, no, I need power. That's how a breast pump works. And also, that's not, like, sanitary. And I was just treated like I was a huge inconvenience because I wanted to return to my job, but also be able to express breast milk. During my pregnancy, I had to get a note from my doctor that said, she needs to sit down every hour. I had a high risk pregnancy. Because I had an issue with my placenta and my regional said to me, you're not disabled, you're just pregnant. And I was like, yes, but I don't want to lose my pregnancy. The lack of care. I cannot stress enough how upsetting it was, how isolating it was.


DEMI: I'm so sorry to go through that. So many of the things you said, I was just like, yes, it sounds horrible to say. I was just like, yes, that's not surprising. Yes, that sounds about right.


CHAYLA: Exactly. And anybody who works there knows as a manager and as a full time team member or part time team member, you do get a hefty discount, like 65% off, but you're expected to buy clothes every single week. So what they did is that they increased the price of clothing, which is like, that's inflation. That’s going to happen. When I started working there, I remember you could buy a dress for $90, and now what are they, $150 for a basic dress? Maybe $120 if you're lucky. So

they put the prices up and then gave us a bigger discount. So we ended up paying the

same amount, or if not, a little bit more, and then tried to make out like we were getting a really great deal. But as the manager of a store, any new clothes come in every week. You had to buy three items a week, which, I mean, it sounds exciting at first until you realise when this item goes on sale, I literally can't do anything with it. And then if we were seen to be when we were seen to be selling things like, say, on Ebay, that was considered theft. It was like selling the items that I have paid for that I can't wear to work anymore was theft. So it was like an impossible situation. But not only that, it's like you had to buy three new items, maybe a dress, a top and a skirt every single week. That could easily be a third of your pay because we were paid maximum like $20 an hour. I think it's probably a little bit more than that now. So you had to spend a third of your pay on new clothes. You had to buy accessories to match, you had to get your makeup done, all of that stuff, because you weren’t allowed to come to work with no makeup on. You weren't allowed to come to work in certain shoes, but they had to still be fashionable shoes, and then they would just break because they're not made for the kind of standing for 8 hours like we had to do. So I found as soon as I was out of it, wow. I was kept in like a poverty cycle, so I felt like a pretty thing on the

outside, but I could never get ahead financially.


DEMI:So I was a Christmas casual, and then I continued being a casual four months later. But my experience was very interesting because I stopped working there when the pandemic happened. So when the pandemic happened, all the clothes shut down and stuff like that. And at that

point, our store. So I worked at Carindale in Brisbane, and I also sometimes dabbled in Chermside and also Garden City. And what happened was at that time, Carindale didn't have a manager. So it was a bit weird. And when our store shut [during the pandemic in March], the people were like messaging and emailing, being like, oh, come into the store to help with clean up and all that

kind of stuff. It's just like, am I going to get paid? Don't know if it was paid or not. Not too sure.

But anyway, when all the shops opened up and Covid was becoming what it is right now and there wasn't lockdowns and stuff, I heard nothing from anyone. And I had probably been at the store probably for about four or five months. I hadn't been there for that long. I wasn't that close with

any of the workers there or anything yet, but I had the numbers and I had not heard from anyone

yet. All the stores were opening up. I saw it in the City Chic Facebook group that all the employees

are in, and no one had contacted me. I tried contacting people and I heard absolutely nothing. And I'm just like, do I still have a job? What's going on? Yeah. And yeah, it ends up being months later. And I just didn't hear anything. And I was just like, do I need to go into the store? And be like, hey guys, do I still work here? What’s happening? And it got to the point and I'm just like, you know what, fuck this. I didn't like the job anyway. I'm just going to email the regional manager. I'm just going to email her and just resign. And I emailed her and I never heard back from her either. And then months after that, I got phone calls from the Carindale store, the other one was from Chermside, the other one from Garden City. Since then, I've gotten phone calls and being like, oh, can you work today? Then it's like, oh, can you work today? Can you fill in for this store? It's like I don't work for City Chic anymore. And then it's like, oh, okay. And then I'm just like, should you tell someone? They're just like, oh, they're above me. Okay, bye. It's just like, they just like, months later down the track. They kept being like, Oh, can you work? You ghosted me. So that was my experience. I just got fully ghosted. And I understand it was difficult time. There wasn't a manager at the time and I know they were bringing in a new manager and the pandemic caused a lot of frustration for people. But to ghost me?!?


CHAYLA: And that's the responsibility of the regional.


DEMI:Yeah. I emailed the regional manager and I said, I'm resigning because I've not heard from anyone for months. I don't even know if I have a job anymore. And I didn’t hear anything.


CHAYLA: Yeah, it's exactly because they don't really give a shit about you as a person.

Like, they absolutely do not care about you, your mental health, anything like that. There's just no support. Like, one of my best friends, she was there for ten years and she was coming up to a long service leave and was really struggling with her mental health. And soten years, you get long service leave, right? So she applied for her long service leave and it was going to be over Christmas. And they denied it and she was like, my mental health is so severe, I can't work. I want to take long service leave. And they said no. And that's when she finally left. But those of us, who had tattoos, who had an alternative look, they would make us feel like we were never going to get a job anywhere else. And so we felt really trapped there. Her and I felt a lot of fear about leaving because they would say, yeah, and nobody else would hire you looking like this. The only reason you've got a job here is because your plus size, wasn’t really about how good we were at our job or anything like that. And there was quite a lot of competition in the company about who was going to get the biggest sale that day. And it's really like, all they cared about was money. Like, you were not a person. It didn't matter how much we talked to HR. Like, I had a regional manager say to me when I

had my baby and I was supposed to go back to managing a store, and I said, I

don't think that I could cope. She was like, well, you need to decide where your priorities

are. Are they with your baby or with your store? And I was like, clearly with my

baby. Like, what the fuck kind of question was that? I could not believe it. And

I was on the phone to her and was just like, in shock. That's how they treated the manager. So we were expected to do so much overtime. Like, you got paid 38 hours a week, and I would say we worked at least 50 overtime because I needed to get to the store by 8am. I didn't leave until way after close and it was the same working in Myer, they would just expect me to work so many unpaid hours. So the time when you're setting up the store before it opens, you're not paid. And then when we go to Fair Work about it and say, hey, we're not being paid, even though we're getting to work

this early and we're also not receiving tea breaks. It was just ignored. And the thing that really frustrates me is like, with all the controversy that came out, that comes out all the time about Honey Birdette, about how their staff are treated, is exactly how we're treated at City Chic. We're never supposed to have breaks. We were never supposed to sit down. You weren't even allowed to drink water in front of a customer because God forbid you had a body that functions, you know what I mean? And it's like even leaving to go on my lunch break, if a customer stopped and wanted to talk to me, I was just supposed to drop everything and I was like, I deserve to have a break. Like I deserve to be able to sit down and eat my food. I'm like when you're treated this way in retail, but you're skinny and attractive, the media gives a shit. When you’re a fatty, they do not want to know about it because they're like, yeah, you can treat fat people that way. They're so lazy. That's why they work at this Fat Girl store. And it was like we were expected to stand for a minimum of 8 hours a day. And the pain in my legs was just I feel like it's something I still live with because it's so physically hard and demanding. I could not believe that I had to say to my staff, I'm so sorry, you can’t drink water in front of clients or customers when they walk in. And it was like, God forbid they know that you're a human.


DEMI: It was shocking to me when I joined because I had been shopping at City Chic for years and years and years and then it’d been a dream of mine to work there because the people are always so

lovely and bubbly and complimenting. They're always so lovely and saying such nice things to

you. So you're like, oh my God, I want to work here. And the shocking moment when I worked

there was that the manager said to me whenever someone comes in, you can't just say oh, hi, how are you today? Or hello, or let me know if you need anything. It always has to start off with a compliment. No matter what, it has to be a compliment. You have to compliment them on something. But then they would always say, oh, but you have to be genuine though. It's just. Like, I have to compliment every single person that comes to the store, but I have to be genuine. What if they look like shit? What if they're an asshole that I had in last week that was a bit of a cunt to me and I don't want to talk to them again because they yelled at me and made me cry in the back room.



CHAYLA: Exactly. I know. It's like, you can't be a human being. You just have to be a sales robot. And that's what I said about it. And taking a mental health day was so frowned upon and so difficult and they really just push that. You should just be a sales robot. You should be a sales fashion robot. Live laugh love with their fucking models, with their exceptionally flat stomachs and they're pinned by clothing and it's just like they just did not give a fuck. And they really should. And they think that they're doing what’s best for us, you know what I mean? When I left, I had this post employee interview and email sent out and I was so scathing in it.


DEMI: That must be nice getting an email. (laughs)


CHAYLA: Because I had been there for eight years that they were like, oh yeah, we'll find out why

she's leaving. And I was so scathing in it. I was like my regional manager

openly bullied me, openly told me she disliked me. Like, how unprofessional.

I'm not the only one who is treated that way. And it's just

fucked up because I thought I was alone in it. And then when I started to talk about it online,

publicly, and even I had people contact me who had worked for them in the US

said that they were treated the same way. And I'm like, that is exactly how this

company operates. Because they just don't care about their staff and they don't really care

about their customers unless they spend money. But then they don't want to stop the larger sizes

because those people couldn't possibly have an income or anything. And

it's literally just a numbers game. And yes, every business has to make money,

but I think the year that I left, the company made $19 million profit. And we're meant to feel sorry for them and feel like it's our fault if we don't make enough money in the

store.


DEMI: This was a couple of years ago when I worked for them. I don't know if this was something that happened when you were there. Did you get stats emailed to you every single hour? And you have to look at those stats and it showed what each store in your region in your state made at that hour. And if you weren't the highest one, you'd get phone calls. And the thing is as well, I don't know if other stores are like this, like with other types of

shops, but if people would come in with returns, those

when people came in with returns, it didn't matter if you made $1,000 that day or

$5,000 that day. If people came in with returns, all those sales, that

doesn't matter anymore.


CHAYLA: If you didn't turn it around and turn that into an exchange or

whatever, if you were literally unable to, then you were bullied. Your regional would be like, that's not good enough. And it comes from the top down

because the regionals are getting it from head office, and head office are getting from the owner because he wants to buy another yacht or whatever. It's so frustrating, and the lack of fashionable designs. And it's interesting when you see influencers all this stuff out in America, like, Hannah

was on TikTok, but she's not anymore. But she would call out Torrid for not having

fashionable plus size designs and for the prices that they charge for them. And then

people would attack her and say, well, that's where I shop, so don't say anything negative to them.

And it's like, well, they could do better. They could do so much better. They have the money,

they have the resources. Like, were they [City Chic] at Fashion Week last year when all the plus size influencers went? Were they there? No. Do they sponsor any plus size events? Do they go out in the community? Do they do anything for pride? Do they show a diverse group of models? No. To

all of that, there is no indication from them that they give a shit about community. And that is what I feel like will end them as a business, because there's just still operating on this old mindset that just not good enough anymore. People much would much rather find smaller brands that care about them, because that's the power of social media. Social media creates community. And if we don't feel cared about by a brand, if we don't feel like a brand speaks directly to us, we won't shop with

them anymore, and that's it. At the end of the day, it's like, maybe I'll look on there if I need something specific, but I don’t want to give them my money. And I'm not happy with the designs they have. I'm not happy with the sizing, and I'm not happy with the quality and the price that you pay. Like, never pay full price. At City Chic, things generally will go on sale six to eight weeks after they come out because they’re not in fashion anymore. And so when people talk about fast fashion,

City Chic is a huge contributor to that. And if they have stuff that they can't sell or that are faulty or things that could be easily repaired, instead of doing that, they cut up the garment or they

send them to op shops. But generally, a pair of jeans that had lost a button, we would have to cut it through the leg or through the crotch to make it impossible to wear and throw it in the bin, the amount of clothing waste that they as a plus size brand produce and have no accountability

for it. It's just so disappointing. I'm just so done with them. And obviously I still got like some City Chic stuff in my closet because like I said earlier, the sizing is just all over the place. I'll still have something in my closet that's a small that still fits me now, but then I have things that are double XL and they don't fit me. I'm just so done with them. I'm just so done with them.


DEMI: I’m just so glad that we're able to talk about this because I don't know, I just feel like amongst the plus size community, I feel like there's just like this hidden rule. You can't talk badly about City Chic because everyone that's plus size in Australia has at least shopped there once

because that's the only place you can go to. So I just feel like there's like this hidden rule. Like

you cannot mention that they're bad, you cannot mention that they're bad, but it's just like, as you said, they're not really part of the plus size community. Then you see all these small businesses out there, especially in Australia, that are just killing it right now, that are doing everything they can to go beyond with inclusivity in their models and their sizing. You know what City Cit reminds me of? City Chic just gives me Victoria's Secret vibes. That's what I get. Like they just stuck in the year 2005 and think that everyone will just pay $120 for a cheap fabric dress that is on an overly photoshopped model that's probably just like a size 12, size 14 in a plus size store. Like, I just think they're just stuck in the times. And honestly not surprised considering that they're owned by some privilege old white man and everyone's just like the City Chic bubble. It's like the City Chic bubble.

They just don't seem to understand the world we are at now. But because they have a monopoly, because they are predominantly the only plus size catered stores in majority of shopping centres.


CHAYLA: So many stores have closed down though. There were five more stores in WA after I went on maternity leave and most of those stores have closed now. But they will blame the staff for that. They will never blame it on their poor business decisions. So they were not successful in Myer because of the way that they set up the business structure there and the way that they just expected so much from us as staff members and nobody knew that we were there and our clothes did not work for the Myer. But now they're in David Jones and instead of listening to customers, they're like, where else can we sell the same product in a different colour? They would do exclusive colours only in Myer so that people have to come into the

Myer and look at stuff, and it was like, you're not listening to the fact that this isn't

where people want to shop. That was the super frustrating

thing. And that we were just supposed to somehow magically create customers to walk through

Myer, and it's like, department stores are fucking dying.

It's just gross. And then they would say, well, in

our outlet stores in Harbour Towns, there's always XXL sizes left.

I'm like, well, maybe if you use some XXL models and people could see how the

clothes actually fit on a properly sized body, they would shop there. But if they don't know that you make the size, they won’t try and shop for it. That's so frustrating. And that's any brand that

will start a plus size line, they'll be like, oh, well, the people didn’t flock in straight away. Do they even know that you make that size available? If for the last 20 years of our lives, we haven't been able to shop with you, and then you suddenly make a plus size brand and expect that message to be conveyed automatically throughout that into our brain cells, how do we know if you’re not building a plus sized community? How do we know it's really baffling that they just do not get it?


DEMI: Yeah, my dear, I feel like we could rant about this for hours upon hours upon hours upon hours upon hours. There's just so much to talk about it with. Honestly at least a positive, we are

no longer employed there anymore. My dear, we are past the triggering point of

being an employee there. So people that are listening right now that are employed there, I

hope you're okay. You're not alone. You're not alone. Yeah, I really do hope that our conversation today does help employees there, or, like, people that have shopped there or people that used to work there, I hope it makes them realise that it's okay, you're not alone. You've had a bad

experience with City Chic, and it doesn't have to be this big hidden secret that City Chic is really messed up, okay? We can’t just keep only talking about how messed up no of Honey Birdette is. City Chic is bad too, and we need to start talking about it.


DEMI: So for the next segment of today's podcast, like every other week, I have a listener sending a dilemma, which is like a question, something that's on their mind that they need a bit of help with. And I saw this question, and as someone that is covered in gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous

tattoos yes.


CHAYLA: You can only see a tiny bit of them. I feel like I just share my nudes on my Instagram. So just head on over.


DEMI: Yeah, just head on over if you want some gorgeous tatted babes on your feed. Absolutely.

Yes. So this is the listener dilemma for those of you that are so confused right now. So the question says, should I get a tattoo sleeve before or after I lose weight? I hate my arms and I want to lose weight, but I really want tattoos now, and I'm worried it's going to take too long to lose weight.


CHAYLA: Okay. For me, as somebody who has a lot of tattoos, I was going to say choose who has a lot of tattoos. The reason that I get tattoos personally is I feel like they're revealing more

of me. And I think you'd be surprised when you do get the tattoos how much you love your arms more. Now that I have both of my arms tattooed, I hardly ever wear anything to cover them up. And I do have friends, one of my best friends, she actually has uneven arms. So on one arm, she's got I don't know how to explain it, but a fold in the middle, and she doesn't like that. But she has got her

arms tattooed and so she feels more comfortable showing them because they reflect her now. And I think that physically, I know that tattoos shrink better than they stretch because stretch marks can go through a tattoo and spread the ink out, but I think that it may help you on your self love journey going. My body is starting to reflect who I am, what I enjoy, what I love, and I want people to see that tattoo. So I think that getting it now, if you are like, I love this design, I

love how it looks. Sometimes little things like that can really change our body

anxiety. For me, I wouldn’t show off my body, but

when I had my stomach tattooed, suddenly I was like, everybody needs to see

this. I need to walk around and crop top all the fucking time. Like, you need to see

this beautiful tattoo that I have. And so I hope that

whoever wrote this in that they see getting their tattoos as a

powerful self love step, and not as something to cover up a part of their

body, but rather to decorate it. Like, I see my body as

decorated by beautiful art. I'm a walking art gallery. And you may then

start to love those parts of your body that before, it might have been a little bit hard,

and that's just what works for me personally.

Also, when we lose weight, our skin loses

elasticity, unless you build muscle underneath. So it depends on what kind of weight loss we're

talking about as well. So if they're doing a gradual weight loss, the

skin may retain the elasticity more. But somebody who's seen a lot of

women and non binary people naked, especially after they've had weight

loss surgery, the biggest struggle that they come to me with and want a photo shoot to help

support their journey is that they thought that losing the weight would mean that

they loved their body more. But often they very much struggle with the loose skin

that they are left with afterwards, and they can find that very upsetting

and almost harder to emotionally cope with because there's nothing that you can do to

repair the skin's elasticity. So when we think of that sort of

extreme, very fast weight loss that comes from a weight loss surgery,

it can affect the way that the skin feels. And sometimes a tattoo

may fold in on itself because it's not stretched flat anymore.

So something to keep in mind. I have seen people who have had the excess

skin removed from weight loss, but if you do that and then you lose even more

weight, what happens is those scars then begin to stretch out, and they

go from being like a thin scar to like a couple of centimeters wide, especially

underneath the arm. So it depends on what kind of weight loss we're talking about. Also,

pain wise, getting your elbow tattooed,

I don't have a lot of fat around my elbow, so I could feel the needle bang on the

bone. So to get really graphic feeling the needle bang off any of the

bones on your arm, not super fun, definitely having

a little bit of padding helps with the pain and helps with your recovery as

well. So I hope that that's really helpful.


DEMI: That is true. That is true. And with the whole weight loss aspect, when you lose weight, or if this person even does lose weight, you don't know where that weight is going to come

off. Even if you only focus on arm exercises or cardio and

not weights, you can never decide where your weight is going to come off.

Like, you might lose weight and it might just all come from your boobs or your face, or even

if you're exercising more or eating a particular diet or

food. Maybe no weight comes off at all. Like, you just don't know exactly.


CHAYLA: Now, you don't need to be worthy to lose weight, and you don't need to be worthy of tattoos to lose weight. Like, I have tattoos all over the cellulite on my legs. And there was a time

ten years ago where I could not find a tattooist, who would tattoo over my

cellulite. They were like, oh, it'll warp the design. It won't look good. Now

it's like, oh, anything goes. And the tattooing industry has advanced so

much. Now the machines and the types of inks and just the

progress the tattoo industry has made. It's a lot more body accepting.

Also, find an artist who is loving of queer bodies,

and often they will put something like that in their bio. They might say,

like, all bodies are welcome. They might make posts about it.

I know heaps of tattooist who are very passionate about making people

feel comfortable. So I will say to them things like, hey, this

bed doesn't actually feel stable for my weight because I'm over 100 kilos.

And most beds are not like massage beds are not weight rated over that.

So I don't actually feel comfortable getting on this bed, but it takes a long time to be able to

speak up for yourself like that. So I'll just explain things

like, hey, just in future, if you're looking for a new bed or something for

your clients to rest on, this is more size, inclusive, and feels more

comfortable. And often the tattooist wants you to be comfortable because

they know they're inflicting pain on you, so they're usually very

empathetic to that and they want to do better. I feel like the tattoo

industry has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and now there's a lot more queer tattooers, there's a lot more female and nonbinary tattooers, creating safe, loving spaces.


DEMI: Yeah. And I would also add to that and recommend people

follow some plus size people on social media that have tattoos themselves.

And then, as we all do, we already stalk people on social media. See if you

can find out, this is what I have done to find out my new tattooers. Find out

where they got their tattoos from, like, find some plus size.

Or just go through their following.


CHAYLA: Yes, go through their following. Just type in tattoo and then see

what tattoo parlours they go to. Because then at least if you're worried, yeah, I don't want this person to have to be this up close to my body for this

long. At least then you'll feel like, oh, they've tattooed a bunch

of plus sized people, a bunch of black people. Like, it's no big deal. And also tattoos,

they've been close to every part of the body, everything.

They're not going to care about a little bit of a fat roll. Like, they don't care.

No. I went for a quote to have my whole back tattoo next

year, and I said to her, I want the tattoo to work with how my body stands, not how my body lays flat. So when I'm standing, I have back rolls, and I want the design to flow with my back rolls. And she was so excited about doing this and that's. The thing is, when you’re open about your body and how you want it to be, it just creates things that are so much easier for artists. And I'm a very sweaty

person. I always have that, like, anxiety that I have smell and stuff like that,

and I'm really open about it with them and say, like, this is what I'm worried about.

But I always make sure I shower before you get tattooed, have a

decent meal and also bring snacks. So I usually have a protein breakfast. So I want something like eggs, because when you're being tattooed, your body goes in shock and having that

store of protein to burn energy, like a protein and a carb. So I'll have poached eggs on

toast or eggs benny or something like that. That's usually my go to pre tattoo meal. And then I bring stuff to snack on and I keep snacking because as your body goes into shock, it's

burning a lot more calories and if you don't snack, you might start to feel dizzy, might

start to feel sick. I love giving people advice on getting tattooed because as I get older, I find that my body tolerates tattoos very differently and seeing that change is very interesting. But

I love getting tattoos. They’re my favourite thing ever.


DEMI: Yes. I'm currently saving up to get some tattoos. Like, oh, I just want to be covered in them. I just have a certain aesthetic that I just want and it's just I just need some tatts. I just need some tatts there. I think I want to get, like I just wish they didn't cost so much money. They're just so much money. They do. Absolutely worth it.


CHAYLA: There’s still some tattoo shops that are only taking cash and I feel like it's like being back in time. And then there are some that have like, After Pay, and then there's a thing called Ink Pay, which is like, it's like a zip Pay, but for large tattoo pieces.



DEMI: This is good information to know. Yeah.


CHAYLA: Some tattoo shops are taking more of a variety of payment now, which I think is absolutely fantastic and I'm really happy about because we want to make sure we can afford

things. Do I pay for rent or do I get a tattoo? Yes. Do I buy food this week? Do I get the job?

People will ask me questions, like, what was the most painful one? How much have you

spent? How many hours? I'm like, I don't add that shit up. I don't want to know how much I've spent. To me, every tattoo that I get reveals something about the inside of

me. It's like they're making visible what was already there. And

it's a very cathartic experience for me. And, yeah, it's something that I just really enjoy. And I'm a bit silly because in my head, I don't have many tattoos because I have friends that are a lot

more covered than me with visible tattoos over their hands, neck or face. But I kind of run out of spots.I feel like one day I'll be very covered because I'm like, all right, now I got to

do the rim. I got one side of my ribs done, and I think that's the only tattoo where I was

like, I'm never getting another tattoo again.

Yes. I love that. I hope that was helpful to the person who's, wanting to get up, will sleep. And people often say that the soft, underarm part is the most painful. I actually found

that the inner elbow part here was very painful. Okay. On both sides. I don't know how to explain this part of the body. And I've got pretty solid colour on my elbow

pit area and on my elbow boat, I would always see these amazing plus size models, like Tess Holliday and stuff like that. And I’d be like, It's so amazing that she can do that and be so

confident. And then I was like, Why do I expect other people to do that? Why did I just do that?

It really clicked for me, and I'm really lucky that I started to do it at a time in my life where it was like, my family don’t see what I do online, or they don't give a shit, or I don't really care.

I was in a relationship where it wouldn't put me in danger to share my body online. And so I

feel like this is something that I want to do. And it's also so important to me,

through my work in my photography, that I'm always showing a variety of skin tones,

body shapes, queer identities. That's what I want to show in the world and use my platform for.


DEMI:

I love that. I love that so much. So to conclude this episode, what we do every single week, we share our own version of recommendations. And considering the majority of our

audience would be part of the plus size fat community, what we do is we share our fave fat

friendly find, which is a brand business product that caters to the fat community. And I would laugh so hard if you say its Chic so hard.


CHAYLA: Well, we talked about Blackmilk earlier because I'm wearing a Blackmilk overall set, and there is a bit of a campaign at the moment for them to show their clothing on plus size models, because I would have never thought that they did my size until I was doing a photo shoot and one of

my clients showed up in blackmailed pants, and I was, like, obsessed. And she's

like, you would definitely fit their staff. And I

went online, and I was like, oh my God, I love everything, and ordered them expecting to have to

return. So I generally wear a 22 on the bottom and a 20

at the top. And their two XL fits me really well.

Even some of the stretch here, things I buy in XL in now, like, I've got 2XL overalls

on there's heaps of stretch around the hips and bum area

just from wearing them. And so I ordered an XL in the next set

of overalls that I got. So I do enjoy Blackmilk. I do really want them

to show more body diversity. They're great with

different ethnicities, not so much different body sizes. I would love it if they show

more people in the Excel side. And I just love the designs

because I'm really always inspired by art and I'm such a bigger, more

person, so I'm always like adding more shit on. So when I

see something with like a cool print, I really love it. I recently found a brand on

Instagram called Cosmic Drifters and they do this about really cool

witchy clothing and it goes up to a UK size 30 and they're

not a cheap brand, but it looks like it's all made to order and it

looks really like stunning and really

cool fabrics, really cool designs and they do show them on different body sizes as

well. And the other one that I was going to say was another brand that I've

found on Instagram, which is a sustainable brand and it's based in Australia and it goes

up to a size 26 and it's called Kholo. And I got a tartan dress from there with pockets. And they do some beautiful fabrics and I love that it's a sustainable brand and I think the dress cost me

$120 and just really great quality, small sustainable fashion brands. And I've seen them come out with some jumpsuit designs. They've got tops, they've got quite a variety of things. So

I quite enjoy seeing smaller brands making fucking awesome stuff.


DEMI:

It's just so great to see again, there's no excuses then for bigger brands not to be more size inclusive or create great products because so many small brands that don't have a lot of money to begin with, or don’t maybe not have the platform to begin with, they create such fucking epic stuff.


CHAYLA:

I hate it when people are like, well, it costs more because of the more fabric. I actually walked past Cotton on Body the other day selling oversized band T shirts. I could have been the medium and I wear a 22 and I was like, interesting how we can make that sizes when it's in fashion and oversized, but we can't do it when you actually have plus size people that you could be catering to, because I can't stop it. I've never been

able to shop at Cotton on Body, even at my smallest weight. So

that's really frustrating. It's like, interesting that you guys can make this

now, but you couldn't do it as, like, an everyday thing and that's

got more material. It's actually a load of shit because the

amount of fabric a brand is ordering, it's much for

muchness because there's so much fabric scrap anyway. So

when they're saying, oh, well, plus it's harder to make

it because there's more fabric and you should have to pay more, it's

just an excuse. It's like a too hard basket. And

it's because they don't really want to have to put in the effort.


DEMI: Yeah. And they just don't want fat people to shop in their stores even though we have money to spend. Okay, yes, we may have inflation right now in a pandemic. Well, we still have

money to spend. We still want to have spend some money to look good.


CHAYLA: Exactly. And a good quality item that is going to last few years. And if you can get it on AfterPay, that’s better than buying something cheap that's going to fall apart. You know what I mean? I think we've all fallen into the Shein trap and bought a couple of things from them. And yeah, the quality is freaking atrocious, but I'm never mad at somebody who is

like, this is what I can afford and this is what I can find in my size.

But I hope that if they could actually get things at a much better

quality that's going to last a long time and they could put on AfterPay or something like that,

then they would get the wear out of that item. Then I think it's definitely

worth it.


DEMI: Yeah, definitely. Oh, God. That can be a whole segment in itself as the whole

argument. People being like, oh, you should never shop at Shein. They're so bad for the environment. It's just like, people know this. But again, there's not enough stores out there that can

provide cheap plus size clothing. And what people don't understand is that places like Kmart, like you said, City Chic, they are fast fashion as well. I understand Shein is a

whole other level of fast fashion, but for a lot of people, that's all they can afford if they're

gaining weight, losing weight, like, they don't want to spend a big chunk of money if

they know they might be putting on more weight or losing more weight.


DEMI: So I think for me, my recommendations this week, my fave fat friendly find, I think I've recommended them before already on the podcast. I forget, but I'm just going to mention anyway, Snag Tights. I just love them so much. City Chic take notes, take notes, get your notes, get your pen and paper out, look at Snag Tights Instagram feed and take inspiration from them. That is

how you promote your products, is you actually use people of all different

sizes. And when you use people that are fat, there's not just one type of fat

person. Yes, there's fat people that might have more fat in their

legs, on their arms. They might dress more feminine, they might dress more masculine. They might be of all different genders, sexualities colours, shapes. Fat people aren't just this little box of this over photoshopped person with a flat stomach and no flabby arms and no cellulite. That's not

what the general fat person is.


CHAYLA: I have their [Snag Tights] shorts that I wear under things to prevent chafing.


DEMI: Oh, that's next on my list. That's next on my list.


CHAYLA: Yeah, I got maybe four pairs a couple of years ago and I wear those shorts every day in summer and they're a little bit more breathable. Like, I have got anti chap shorts from Taking Shape before and they're like a kind of silky material, but they're a little bit too short. I

always find this issue with anti chafing shorts is that

they will be too short for me because my legs rub together. Yeah,

mine rubbed together closer to my knees more than at the top. Like, that's the part

that's actually going together. I need an anti

chafing short that can get to my knee length and I find a lot of them actually

stop kind of mid thigh and then they'll roll up as I walk. So I quite like the

Snag Tights ones that I can make them knee length or I can make

them shorter if I want to because of the way that the material is woven.

So I definitely agree. I've seen that they're doing like, little dungary overalls and

I'm like, I do love it. Giant toddler.


DEMI: That is next on my list. That is next on my list. Like, I had a shopping cart full of

stuff and I mistakenly removed it, even though I love, love the other stuff I got.

But I removed it because I was like, no, Demi, you can't spend hundreds of dollars just

on one brand. You just can't. But I'm just so in love with them.


CHAYLA: I know a lot of burlesque performers who use their tights as well.


DEMI: What's the word where you have I got the ones that have like fake suspenders because

I love the look. Like, I just love the whole

suspenders with the undies and then with the tights. But I cannot for the life of me keep

the suspenders hooked onto the tights. What snag tights did they brought

in these tights that it looks like you have suspenders. Yes. It is the hottest fucking thing. So difficult

to put on. But then again, I'm unco. But oh my God, the hottest thing in the world. Love them to death. Love them. My partner loves them. Go get yourselves them.


CHAYLA: And you can keep them on without underwear like they are an easy access

item.


DEMI: Yes you can. Yes you can. That's the important thing here.


CHAYLA: You can keep feeling the fantasy during the interaction. There's no thing flying off or anything. And then the underwear over the top and then you can take the underwear off and you’re still in your I'm a sexy lingerie fantasy.


DEMI: I love it, my dear. It has been a fun ride. We have definitely over

recorded, but I'm more than happy with that. I just looked at the time to say I'm just like, oh my gosh, has this been 2 hours? I've had such a blast chatting with you. I think we are definitely going to be needing some more chats in the future about ranting, about City Chic, about

many other things.


CHAYLA: In the future, I'm going to be in Brisbane…


DEMI: Oh, yes, sorry, plug away.


CHAYLA: I'm a photographer and I work a lot in empowerment and body image. But I

also love doing magical portraits because our bodies are this

fucking incredible vessels of the universe. And so I love just

creating beautiful art with our beautiful bodies. I photograph all shapes, all

sizes and I provide the posing, instruction and support.

So I know when somebody points the camera at you and you feel like, oh my God, I have no idea what to do with myself. I totally feel the same thing. And I talk to people the whole time during photoshoots. So to help them feel comfortable and just feel amazing in their

bodies, that's what I do. I'm based in Perth, but I do have plans to travel to all the other states and take photos of everybody’s delicious booties.


DEMI: I'll make sure to put all your details in the show notes, including your Instagram handle. Big thank you for coming onto the show. I am sure the listeners thoroughly enjoyed everything you have to say about City Chic.


CHAYLA: There's still more I can say.


DEMI; Oh, yes. Honey. Yeah. You're coming back? Yeah. I think we need to do a part two because there's just too much too much tea, too much gossip. So City Chic watch out.

Yes. So big. Thank you. Thank you so much. Bye.


CHAYLA: Thank you for having me.


DEMI: We at Faternise pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the Meanjin land.

We acknowledge that we are on the stolen lands of the Jagera and Turrbal people whose sovereignty was never ceded.



 

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