Nov 3 • 41M

Where Are All the Plus Size Kids' Clothes?

It's hard because capitalism. With Pam Luk of Ember & Ace

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Virginia Sole-Smith
Pamela Luk
Weekly conversations about how we dismantle diet culture and fatphobia, especially through parenting, health and fashion. (But non-parents like it too!) Hosted by Virginia Sole-Smith, journalist and author of THE EATING INSTINCT and the forthcoming FAT KID PHOBIA.
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It’s hard to be fat as an adult. When you are fat adult with a fat child, you’re a particularly kind of terrible in society.

You’re listening to Burnt Toast. I'm Virginia Sole-Smith and I also write the Burnt Toast newsletter.

Today I am chatting with Pam Luk, founder of Ember & Ace, a line of plus size athletic clothing for kids. Pam is also a Burnt Toast community member and I’m really happy to have her on the podcast. You have been asking for reporting on plus size kids’ clothes ever since I did Jeans Science. And I do have a longer reported feature in the works for you, but it’s not quite ready yet—because I’m determined to get an interview with a designer for a mainstream kids clothing brand, if that’s you email me please!—so I’m really delighted to have Pam here to get the conversation off the ground.

Pam is a mom who both wears plus size clothes herself (and did as a kid) and is dressing a kid in a larger body. So she’s really thought about this issue from every possible angle. She has a lot of little tips and tricks for actually finding clothes for your kids. And we talk about the big picture: Why the industry is having such a hard time doing this, what needs to change, what we can all do as consumers to advocate for that change.


Pam Luk

Episode 68 Transcript

Pam

I have been plus size my entire life. I grew up loving sports and dance. I played soccer, tap, jazz, and ballet. And when I got to high school, I struggled to find leotards and soccer outfits that would fit. I was a goalkeeper and I had to go to the men’s department at a sporting goods store to try and find a shirt and pants that would fit. Which is super fun when you’re seventeen.

Virginia

Very affirming experience.

Pam

So fast forward 30 years: I have a daughter who’s a teenager and she also loves sports and dance and we’re struggling to find things that fit her because she’s also in a bigger body. And I’m like, “Why is this still a problem? It’s been 30 years.” So I said, well, I have no background in apparel and or manufacturing, but somebody has to do something. It’s something that I obviously have lived experience with and I’m super passionate about, so that’s where Ember & Ace came from. It was really this idea that we have to address a couple of myths, which are 1. That kids in bigger bodies don’t do activities, right? And 2. That if you were doing an activity, your body would magically get smaller.

Virginia

Immediately, before you needed to buy the uniform.

Pam

Right? Just go to a couple practices, you’ll be fine. And I think for me, the biggest piece is what message do these kids get? Because I know for me, it’s that you don’t belong here. This space isn’t for you. So, it’s really that that sort of drives the creation of Ember & Ace and the fact that I want to focus on athleticwear to start. The name itself is a play on the word “embrace” because I want somebody to love on these kids.

Virginia

That’s lovely. I’m really glad you’re speaking to these myths right off the bat. I mean, when we think of like, “oh, kids in bigger bodies aren’t athletic,” it’s just so clear like, are they not athletic? Or is it that athletic spaces are not available to them? 

Pam

There’s a really small qualitative study that I read that was done, I think, in the UK a few years ago, where they talked to a bunch of teens in bigger bodies specifically. And they said, one of the reasons they quit because the uniforms don’t fit.

Virginia

I’m glad we’ve got the data, but also I think we all knew that. But we need the data to explain it to people who don’t grasp it. So, it’s been 30 years since you were struggling with this, now you’re facing it with your daughter. Why isn’t it better?

Pam

The short answer is capitalism and anti-fat bias. But I will say more. Most of the brands that work in kids clothing are large corporations and the focus is always profit first. So you spend money developing a pattern, and then you come up with rules to make bigger sizes for that one pattern, and then you price, and then you go sell. And now people are saying, “you have to make bigger sizes,” and the rules aren’t the same for how you’re going to change the sizes of those patterns. And we don’t want you charging more money because that’s just ridiculous. So here they are and they’re like, “Well, but my whole pricing model and everything that I’ve already invested money in…” right?

And again, the focus is on profit and sell more units. So, honestly, I feel like it’s cheaper just to get into new markets with that existing pattern and stuff that you have, versus trying to take on this problem. And I will also say, I do think, in particular, the children’s clothing industry is a little bit more price sensitive. I feel like you’re lucky sometimes to get six months of wear of something before your child has shot up. 

Virginia

Right. I don’t want to spend $46 on a pair of pants that they can’t wear for more than five minutes.

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Pam

You’re also not creating lifelong customers. It’s not like I’m going to wear your jeans for 40 years, or I’m going to wear your wrap dress for 40 years, because kids just move through those sizes. So you don’t have long-term customer cultivation, you do have a little bit of price sensitivity. You add all of that to the existing corporate model and nobody’s advocating I think for this. I do think you’re starting to see in the plus size adult space people really advocating for going above a 3x. And I don’t see that right now, in this space. It’s tricky, right? I chose the hardest thing to take on. Because I’m sensitive to exposing not only my own daughter, but a lot of kids that are already struggling, to the spotlight. So it’s a really complicated thing to navigate. Corporations that aren’t really inclined to make a change, and the lack of folks talking about this. I think it’s going to start changing and they’re not going to have a choice, but I think a lot of that really contributes.

Virginia

I’m just thinking about what you just said about brand loyalty and it maybe makes sense that where we are seeing some progress it’s that brands like Land’s End and or Old Navy where they can grow you from a child customer to an adult customer, right? Whereas Tea Collection or Primary or some of these others don’t have that same incentive because they have this turnover in customers. And they’re thinking, well, there’s always gonna be another skinny seven year old who will wear these clothes.

Pam

Right. And I can also take this existing pattern and maybe move into markets and get into Asia, I can get into South America.

And I will say, it’s an investment. It is an investment to do these patterns and to make these things work. I’m not giving them a Get Out of Jail Free card. But when you’re only driven by profit…

Virginia

Well, I think it’s helpful for people to understand that there are these logistical pieces of the puzzle that need to be worked out and of course we should be working it out and we want companies to do better, but it’s not just this sort of blatant refusal to engage. It’s definitely lack of awareness, and lack of incentive, but also there’s these complicated pieces. 

Pam

And part of it is just trying to figure out how do we carry a variety of sizes in a cost effective way. And it’s something that I’m going to be experimenting with and seeing, because I think the other thing that’s interesting, is some customers are willing to wait 30 days, so that you can be like, “Tell me all the sizes, you need and pre order, and we’re going to make those things, that’ll be great.” And some people, for a lot of reasons, don’t want to wait or can’t wait. So that would be the model that might be the easiest, right? Tell me the sizes you need, and if we can get it done in 30 days, then great.

Virginia

But people are used to their Amazon Prime two day delivery option. The idea of waiting, and having to plan ahead feels hard. Even though that could be a great strategy for more custom sizing options. 

Pam

So it’s just trying to figure out what can we do and what can we adjust. Even if it’s just like, put a giant three inch hem on the bottom, so you can let it out. Exploring all these different things that we can potentially do to cover as much ground as possible.

Virginia

I also want to speak a little more to the piece you were talking about in terms of the conversation around the kids themselves, and you being conscious of wanting to protect your daughter’s privacy. Do you think that parental ambivalence is a reason we’re not seeing retailers do more in this area? Like are parents not being as vocal as they need to be? Perhaps because of just wanting to keep their kids more private, but also ambivalence about their kids bodies.

Pam

I mean, I feel like it’s definitely something that we have to start talking about and exploring when it comes to parents that have kids in bigger bodies. I do think we all continue to struggle with where anti-fat bias lives. It feels like a daily practice for me still, and I’ve done so much work, particularly since 2018 onward. But it’s a constant effort to look at how that’s impacting the choices that I make, and the decisions and the things that still come up for me and out of my mouth. And the other thing that’s really, really hard: It’s hard to be fat as an adult. When you are fat adult with a fat child, you’re a particularly kind of terrible in society. And I think we’ve all seen the story of, I think it was in the UK, they took kids away from a mother because they were so big.

(Here’s Virginia reporting on that case for Slate last year.)

And so part of it is, you’re terrified of what people are going to say and do when you take your kids in for an annual physical. Like, it’s bad enough that you think terrible things about me as a fat person and all these ideas you have about what I do and don’t do, but when you now bring a child into that conversation…It’s been one of the toughest things for me. 

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Virginia

Absolutely. 

Pam

Just to even talk about it because I think there is so much negativity around what you must be doing wrong as a parent like you’re not already struggling every day as a parent feeling like you’re doing something wrong.

Virginia

Like that’s not a baseline position for most of us when we wake up in the morning as a parent.

Pam

Yeah, so let’s please add to that, that you’ve obviously done a terrible job and you have a fat child now. It’s really hard to talk about, it’s hard for me to talk about.

Virginia

I mean, obviously, listeners, neither Pam nor I agree with that. She’s not doing a terrible job. Fat parents are not doing terrible job. Fat kids are awesome. Bu, even if you accept that premise, like just for a second, to entertain the idea, the logical conclusion you go to is…so that kid doesn’t deserve clothes that fit? It’s just punitive and crappy. What do we as a culture think is gonna come from taking a shame based approach to talking about kids bodies that isn’t parenting? It makes no sense to me.

Pam

When has a shame based approach ever worked? Like for anything?

Virginia

So you had put together this really amazing tip sheet and when you emailed it over to me to take a look, you said every tip on here has a story, because these are strategies you’ve used yourself or I’m guessing had to figure out the hard way. I also really love that you broke it down by age. So I thought we could just talk through some of these. To start with, you started ages four to eight. Can we talk a little bit about before age four? Is it easier at that age? What are your thoughts for that group?

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Pam

I will say I did find it a little bit easier at the younger ages. I think it’s partly because, thankfully, the diaper is still in play in those early years. And so a lot of the clothes have to fit a child and a diaper in those pants. I found there was always a lot of give and stretch and space, particularly during like the diaper years. The other thing is sizing up is one of those things that sort of always works. And so a lot of the tips that I put for ages four to eight are the things that I would have done. Like you’re six months, but you’re in a nine months size, and you’re nine months now you’re in 12 months size, and you’re a year old, and you’re wearing 18 months. And that’s sort of the pattern that continues, but because of the diaper, you’ve got to get a little more room. 

Virginia

A little more wiggle room. Also, I would imagine there’s a change in the way kids’ clothes are cut when you get into elementary school sizing. They’re expecting kids to have moved out of that more toddler shaped body into the child shaped body. They’re assuming there’s a leaning out that happens, which of course does not happen for all kids. I often hear from parents that this is when it’s hard, you know? Now your kindergartner needs tights for ballet and there are no waist bands that work and that kind of thing.

Pam

Yes. Absolutely. I do think you see that. I think everybody’s like once your kids start moving a lot, they’re gonna just turn into a string bean.

Virginia

Not everyone. Some kids, sure. Not all of them. So in ages four to eight you suggest shopping the boys’ department, so talk a little bit about Yeah, the boys versus girls departments.

Pam

Well, obviously this works well when you have a girl. What I tended to notice is a lot of legs are cut really narrow, particularly when you are talking about in the girls department. The tees are that slim, feminine cut t-shirt. The shorts, not only are they cut narrower, the inseam is like an inch and a half on girl shorts. Which is like, why is the boys inseam five inches and the girls inseam in the same size as an inch and a half?

Virginia

Let’s also talk about early sexualization of children. Cool.

Pam

The great thing is for a lot of kids clothes, because there’s so much stretch—it’s leggings, it’s T shirts, it’s knit shorts, it’s all those things—you can size up and you have some flexibility. But where I particularly ran into challenges was with woven fabrics. So you need a pair of black woven pants, or any type of denim was another thing. Because there is some stretch denim, but a lot of times even then it’s cut so narrow in that like jegging styles.

Virginia

That skinny jeans style.

Pam

Yeah, you’re like my kids’ legs won’t fit in that. So we tended to do a lot to t-shirts that are cut in that more traditional standard style, they aren’t slim cut, and shorts have longer inseams and are wider through the leg and jeans that are wider through the leg. Even just like sweatshirts and sweaters, things just having a little bit more room in them. Honestly, I still shop in the men’s department for myself, as well. I think the t-shirt I actually have on right now is from the men’s department. 

Virginia

When I had Julia Turshen on here a few weeks ago, she talked about sort of gravitating to the men’s department and staying there for many years. It both aesthetically really spoke to her and it was where she could find clothes that fit and more comfortable for her body. So it makes sense.

But I do wonder, what do you do then with the nine year old girl who loves unicorns and wants the pink and all of that? Because it is absurd how gendered children’s clothing is. Like, it’s absolutely absurd that we have boys’ and girls’ departments at all. But yeah, how do you how do you help that kid find her style if her style is not in the boys’ department? 

Pam

Yeah. Try to find the trendy where you can. And I think the one of the great places that it’s a little bit easier is we have like t-shirts and sweatshirts and things because sizing up there, you don’t typically end up floating in it. And if you do for a sweater, it’s how they’re worn anyway. I do think by the time you’re nine, if you’re plus size, a lot of times you’re already into a 10/12 plus. So a lot of brands do start their plus sizing for kids around that 10/12 point. So Land’s End is a place that we did it. Like, let’s bring on like unicorn leggings and or sparkly leggings in bright pink and bright yellow. So, by nine when they may be starting to say “I want to have the same things my friends have,” nine times out of ten you may already be into the plus sizing. 

You get out front and you stay out front. So by four I’m wearing a six, by six I’m wearing an eight, and by nine I’m wearing like a 10/12 plus. And by 14, I’m wearing an 18 plus. So that’s the other thing, like the sizing doesn’t make a lot of sense. I will say by nine a lot of kids are already sort of sliding into that plus range and thankfully with stretch, even if it’s just a little big you can usually get away with it. So by that point, you have some options in plus. 

Virginia

It is tough though, when I mean, I have two girls who have both been deciding their own outfits since toddlerhood. I haven’t picked out an outfit for these children in years. They’re very opinionated. And one of my daughters does not fit into most traditional brands of leggings, so I was buying her joggers because I thought they looked so much more comfy. Looser, cute joggers, fun patterns, colors, whatever. And she calls them “shaggy pants” and she won’t wear that. She’s like, “these are too shaggy. Why are you making me wear shaggy pants?” And I’m just like, because I don’t want you to be uncomfortable. And, you know, even when I size up in the leggings, the narrowness of the legs. So navigating that has been interesting.

Pam

Yeah, and I will say a lot of times if I could, I would opt for capris because then I’m at least I’m getting rid of the lower legs challenge.

Virginia

Yeah, where their foot is just stuck. And you also suggested Capris and crop tops like because you can size up and the length maybe right for your shorter kiddo.

Pam

I’m always looking for like crop sweatshirts and sweaters or like ankle length, crop length, Capri length, whatever you want to call it, because it’s gonna help. The other thing is, I’m embarrassed to say I’m terrible sew-er. Like, yes, I can attach a button. Yes, I can probably sew a hole along the seam. But if we’re talking about like hemming an entire pair of pants, I’m out. So I’m trying to minimize A. the amount of alterations we have to do particularly at a young age when you’re growing out of things so quickly, and B. it’s hard when you’re swimming in a sweatshirt that like goes all the way to your knees. Although that I think was the style when I was growing up.

Virginia

Although apparently with the kindergarten set, not with joggers. So, since we’re suggesting girls look in the boys department, what are we having the boys do?

Pam

If there’s a girls plus section, there’s almost always a boys plus section. So, you know, most of the brands that I referenced here, do carry boys. And it’s going to be one of those things where you’re again, looking for sizing up, you’re looking for fabrics with stretch. I hate to say it, but that’s going to be your your best friend. And the other thing is like, any amount of adjustability, is going to help you. So for example, in like a woven cargo pant, look for the ones that have that little tab that we can roll the cuffs because then like, then it will actually maybe be the right length. If we have to size up, I’m gonna address that length. So it’s really like, a lot of the options are looking for stretch and adjustability and then you may end up having to maybe get some things hemmed. It’s really just about how does this adjust.

I will say the other thing that I like a lot are cuffs, both on pants and sleeves. I, again, don’t sew. And so for, like when you have to wear like the white button down for like the band concert, or like the chorus in like fifth grade? If I have to size up and the sleeves are too long, that cuff, I just literally turn it back and I’ve just shortened that sleeve two inches, thank you very much.

Virginia

Yeah, smart. I have to buy band clothing for it for my fourth grader and I was having the same thought of, oh you want them in button down shirts and skirts? How doable is this going to be for every kid?

Pam

One of the things that you have to sort of just get on board with, you have to start early. I’m like, please don’t tell me three days in advance. I need more than three days.

Virginia

This is a project I have to start a semester ahead of time.

Pam 

I need at least two weeks, potentially. Because if it’s not Amazon, which ships in two days, it’s going to be five days to process and then four days to get it to me. So I need two full weeks in advance, thank you.

Virginia

Do schools think we can shop in person because that is so so rarely doable for any busy parent’s life. But for kids and plus sizes, most of these, a lot of these stores don’t carry their plus lines in the store, etc, etc.

Pam

You have to get organized and get planned and have time to execute the plan. But I do think, having like the cuffed shirt, I’m not gonna shorten it. We’re just gonna roll the cuffs and off you go. Do you remember when you used to like tweak your jeans at the bottom? Are you old enough to remember?

Virginia

Oh, yeah. French cuffing your jeans? 

Pam

Can we bring that back? And then I don’t have to worry about your jeans being too long?

Virginia

I wonder if that trend originated with parents who were like I am buying you two sizes of jeans because they don’t want to buy jeans every year and you can just roll them. And kids were like, Okay, we’ll make it cool, I guess.

Pam

For things like joggers, definitely get the ones with a cuff on the bottom. because again, it’s gonna keep all that extra fabric from dragging on the floor. It’s gonna pool around your ankles a little bit, but you can also turn those up once. I’m all about the no-sew tips right now. 

Virginia

For sure. You’re speaking to a fellow non-sewer right now and I also don’t want to. I mean, I have a great local tailor that helps me deal with all of these issues. But I’m not spending that money on kid’s clothing.

Pam

You’re wearing these pants and this button down for one band concert and then it’s not gonna fit you next year.

Virginia

And it’s $28 in tailoring. Cool, cool, great. Great. We were talking about the shipping times and all that, but I’m assuming in general, you feel like online is gonna give parents more options than in person? We should just speak to that a little. 

Pam

Yeah, I absolutely do think that online is going to give you so many more options. And you’ve already said, a lot of brands don’t even carry their plus in store. It’s easier because I have a girl so I’m like, we’re gonna turn it into like a personal shopping experience. I’m gonna get you a bunch of different things. I feel like it takes a little bit of the pressure off when you have multiple choices to sort of be like, Well, this one’s not working, but let’s try this one, and you just have to very quickly sort of move on. I also really like this for me, too. Like, I can put this on with the jeans I already have and see if I like it or these are the shoes I want to wear for this outfit, does it work.

Virginia

I’ve really embraced online shopping for myself, just out of necessity. You know, I live kind of in the country, we don’t have a lot of stores nearby. The ones we do have do not have plus size sections. And I’ve embraced that I just always buy two sizes of everything, and returns are part of the process. I think there is a valid environmental objection to that, obviously. I’m shipping boxes to Zappos back and forth across the country. It’s not great from a carbon footprint perspective. It’s not great from what do they do with the returned clothes perspective, but I just think we, as individuals, have to let ourselves off the hook. Because, there’s no real other realistic way to solve these problems. And particularly for your kids, like having a more relaxed experience of, "let’s try on this box of clothes at home where you’re comfortable and can take a break and get bored.” Versus us being in the Target dressing room and everybody needs a cookie, we’re hangry and trying to finish the shopping trip.

Pam

And I do want to take a second since you’ve spoken about sort of the environmental piece. I’m a small business owner, so I love small brands and I support small brands. And I also live in California, so you know I’m all about the environmental impact of the things we do. But I do want to let every single parent who’s trying to dress their plus size kid know, shop where you can find what you need. Because until we improve the system overall, you have to do what you need to in order to put clothes on your kid. And please know that I, even as a small business owner, like hello, I shop at Amazon. I do for my kid and I shop at Land’s End, Target, all of it. And it’s okay. Let yourself off the hook for that.

Virginia

I’m curious, too, because since you’re your daughter is twelve or thirteen. 

Pam

Thirteen.

Virginia

So you’re getting into the teen years of all of this. And again, as discussed, my children already have very strong opinions about what they wear. How do you think about encouraging a plus sized kid to still explore personal style? Because the message for so long was like, well, this is what you can wear, so I guess you have to wear it even if you don’t like it. Like you’re getting this sort of sad alternative? Versus like, is there a way that we can nurture these kids feeling good about self expression through clothing?

Pam

I love online shopping. But I feel like we’re entering the years now where my daughter is going to want to go shopping with her friends, because we’re hitting the teenage years. So we’ll have to come back in a couple years and I’ll tell you what that looks like.

Virginia

Please do.

Pam

She’s also getting into thrift, which has opened a whole new complicated…

Virginia

Because most thrift stores don’t have plus sizes, I’m guessing?

Pam

They don’t. So, we’re navigating. It’s fun and interesting if the frame is how can we be creative about some of the choices that we’re making? So for example, one of the things we found was an XXXL men’s white button down shirt, but I’m like, oh my gosh, this can be a dress. Let’s see if we can find a belt! And so there’s ways to find your own style. It’s like sometimes the most creative things come out of being shoved into a box. By being forced into this box of not having a lot of choices, how can we go about it doing something creative? The other thing is, I’m big on fabric pens or paints, like I let my daughter draw all over her jeans. But like I think particularly at a younger age, there might be something really fun and interesting about adding, you know, drawing or painting or let’s bring back the bedazzler.

Virginia

Let’s do it. Bedazzling is so fun, I love that idea. 

Pam

And my daughter can sew better than me already. So I’m trying to encourage that.

Virginia

There are so many talented sewists in the Burnt Toast community and whenever we talk clothes, there’s a whole bunch of y’all in the comments talking about these amazing pattern designers that are out there. If you can sew it does open up a whole world to you that I am envious of whilst no not wanting to become a sewer.

Pam

I kicked myself for not learning. My mother sews and I’m like, that was the worst choice I ever made.

Virginia

 I mean, I suppose we still could. Like, we don’t have to rule it out. But it doesn’t sound like how I’m gonna spend a Saturday. I just really admire people who do it. I guess to that end of encouraging your daughter to develop her style and thrift shopping and all of that, if you have any thoughts for other parents about how do we talk to our kids about the things we’re looking for in these clothes? Like, when you’re looking for elastic waist or adjustable cuffs or whatever, do you explain this landscape and say like, it’s so crappy that they don’t make clothes for your body? Or does that just make them feel more othered? 

Pam

I think particularly when my daughter was younger, my focus was on trying to keep it as light and fun as humanly possible. I mean, you are going to learn very soon, probably sooner than anyone would like, that It’s a really crummy landscape. But I’m going to do what I can. And this is where I do put in maybe more effort than a lot of other folks think is necessary. But I know the sort of things that she’s gonna have to navigate as she grows up, so if I can just extend this period where she’s sort of building confidence and I’m going to do what I can to protect some of that. And we’re going to have small conversations here and there around “you like to move” and kids kids sit very strangely. I don’t know if they do this—do your kids, like, sit half upside down on the couch?

Virginia

If even sitting on the couch! I mean like on the arm, on the back. Yeah.

Pam

So I’m like, “you just need clothing that moves because of how you choose to sit in the living room. And when your clothing fits comfortably, I feel like you’re more confident. You’re not always trying to pull the shirt down, you’re not always pulling at the waistband.” And I honestly think they should keep more adjustability in all kids clothing. We don’t make custom clothing anymore. It’s not your mom and your dad or your grandmother sewing what you wear every day that’s made to fit your body. It’s mass produced. And I think even straight sized kids would benefit from a lot of adjustability. Like those pants that have like the button hole elastic with the button where you can let them out or take them in.

Virginia

Completely. Kids grow fast and need different sizes when you least expect them to. 

Pam

And maybe I want to invest in the bigger size because I need the length, but he waist is too big. So then it’s adjustable. And that’s like drawstrings, all of it. The variety of bodies and the variety of growth trajectories just require adjustability for absolutely everyone.

Virginia

And it makes me think, too, like when we talk about universal design or adaptive clothing, the tweaks that we can make to make a shirt tag not scratchy. I mean, brands have figured that out, right? So many brands have gotten rid of scratchy shirt tags and just have the label printed on the shirt now because that’s a sensory nightmare for so many kids. And no kid was like, “wait, I’m so mad to have lost that shirt tag.” No one was penalized by that decision. It made it better for everybody not to deal with a scratchy shirt tag. Similarly, making clothes more size fluid would benefit everybody.

Just like making buttons easier to do. One of my kids has some OT challenges and zippers and snaps and tricky buttons are just a journey we’re always on and I need more clothes with easier to maneuver closures, so she can dress herself confidently. There’s just easy ways to make those shifts that we all benefit from and nobody’s held back.

Pam

So I do talk to her about it, I talked to her about, you know, not every brand has the variety of sizes that are needed for you and for a lot of other kids. So we’re going to find the ones that work. As she gets older, we have more in depth conversations, and part of it, I also just sort of frame my own sort of journey and that you can find things that you love, and you can be comfortable in your body, and you can keep doing all the things that you do. It’s not easy. And there’s good days, bad days. And I think that’s the that’s true for me, right? Good days and bad days for me, as well.

Virginia

Well, I just really appreciate your expertise on all of this. There’s so much useful info here for parents. We’re all in the struggle together. Tell us what’s going on with the clothing line. When can our kids wear Ember and Ace?

Pam

I did a very small Kickstarter this summer to raise money for the first production run and the fabric is being shipped as we speak. So the goal is to have everything manufactured and completed by the end of October. It might bleed a little bit into November, so we’re kind of missing that big holiday season. But it’s been a wild ride between supply chain and all the things, so.

Virginia

I can’t even imagine how many new things you’re learning in this process. This is incredible. No wonder you don’t want to learn to sew, I mean.

Pam

Exactly, there’s no more space. So I’m hoping to have the first five-piece collection available late this year and only continue to make more pieces from there.


Butter

Pam

Okay, I don’t know why but this is the first thing that popped up. My entire family right now is obsessed with soft pretzels. 

Virginia

Love it. 

Pam

It’s a slightly higher effort in terms of snacks. You have to put in the toaster oven for three minutes, but warm, fresh out of the oven—that’s never a bad thing.

Virginia

Never a bad thing.

Pam

I think it’s just because I love dips and sauces me. Like you can do mustard one day. You can do queso, you can do salted chocolate. You can do peanut butter and honey We’re all about dips and sauces in my family. 

Virginia

So what’s your favorite dip?

Pam

Right now, I’m very big on mustard. I feel like my German ancestors are very proud of me. It’s fancy mustard or spicy brown.

Virginia

Oh, yeah, I love spicy brown. And do you buy them frozen?

Pam

I buy them frozen. Trader Joe’s has them if you have a Trader Joe’s. They’ve been around since I think I was a kid, the Super Pretzel in the black box in the freezer section.

Virginia

I only know like Auntie Anne’s mall pretzels. I didn’t know you could have a soft pretzel in the comfort of your own home.

Pam 

You can and Auntie Anne’s also does theirs frozen as well! We found those in the Target frozen section. So check out the freezer section of your grocery store. If they don’t have them, check Target, check Trader Joe’s.

Virginia

Do your research, people. Find the pretzels.

Pam

Don’t make me start a pretzel blog. I will do it if I have to. 

Virginia

I love it. That sounds delicious. I’m definitely going to try that. That sounds like a very satisfying snack that needs to be in my life. 

I was gonna recommend a pair of boots I just got from Target but I’m a little worried that by the time this airs, they will be sold out because Target is frustrating that way.

So instead I’m going to recommend the Ivy & Bean show on Netflix. If you have kids in the preschool to elementary school years and you read the Ivy & Bean books, the new TV show is lovely. It’s so funny and really like, like it’s like very fun and graphic how they shot it. It’s real people, it’s not animation. My daughter is a little fuzzy on the details of how shows get made and she keeps being like, “so are they friends in real life?” I’m like, it’s a set, they are actors. Anyway. So it’s a show with actors, a concept most of us are familiar with. I really liked that they cast bean and her family as a black family. In the book, the illustrations, I think she’s white. And they did a really great job. It’s a show you can watch with your nine year old and also enjoy for yourself. That’s a very niche form of viewing.

Pam

The Venn diagram of that is, like, one.

Virginia

She’s not quite there for Gilmore Girls. I feel like we have like another year or so before. And then it’s like, okay, if after we watch Gilmore Girls and unpack all the problems of how it didn’t age, I don’t know what we’re gonna watch. 

Pam

I think right now, occasionally, like, competition shows we still like intersect a little bit. Like the British Bake Off.

Virginia

Yeah, yeah, that’s true. Those kinds of shows are good all family viewing. Abbot Elementary was another one that we did together. That was really nice. But it’s a bummer. I want to watch Parks & Rec with her and I probably will, but there’s a lot of fatphobia to unpack. I just want to watch a show, I don’t have to do all the work.

Pam

 Can I just, like, not for a second?

Virginia

Yeah, exactly. Well, Pam, thank you again, for being here. This was an awesome conversation. Tell folks where they can follow you and how we can support your work.

Pam

Thanks. The best thing to do is head over to Ember & Ace and sign up for the newsletter. I will be sending updates about when things are available, what new things are going to be coming down the down the pike. My Instagram is there as well. You can give us a follow over there. I’m still improving my Instagram game, so be patient, please.

Virginia

As are we all. We will link to all of that in the show notes. And thank you again for being here.


The Burnt Toast Podcast is produced and hosted by me, Virginia Sole-Smith. You can follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

Burnt Toast transcripts and essays are edited and formatted by Corinne Fay, who runs @SellTradePlus, an Instagram account where you can buy and sell plus size clothing.

The Burnt Toast logo is by Deanna Lowe.

Our theme music is by Jeff Bailey and Chris Maxwell.

Tommy Harron is our audio engineer.

Thanks for listening and for supporting independent anti diet journalism. I’ll talk to you soon.