Shopping for bras and underwear of any kind can be difficult.
It’s always a struggle to find something with enough support that’s also cute and made for your body type. As the body positivity movement has become more popular online, it’s encouraged vendors to offer more inclusive undergarments.
So, when Lizzo, an avid body positivity advocate, announced she was releasing an underwear brand called Yitty, many, including myself, were ecstatic. As someone who sometimes struggles to find bras that actually support me and underwear that I feel comfortable in, I hoped a more body–inclusive brand would have great options for me.
But my first visit to the website brought on a familiar disappointment. Like many undergarment brands, the items on the site appeared cute and comfortable, but the prices were ridiculous. Initially, it seems like everything is cheap with prices ranging from $7 to $20. But when you look closer, those prices are for “VIP Members.”
When shoppers click on items for the first time, they are immediately prompted to fill out a quiz with their preferences. At the end of the short quiz, it asks for an email and name to “sign up,” and after agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, it lists that they can use your email for email communications. As shoppers already receive an absurd number of spam emails, users are unlikely to finish the survey.
For the sake of this article, I bit the bullet and signed up through Yitty’s site after haphazardly answering a handful of questions. Unsurprisingly, I was shown an item that initially had listed the price as “2 for $29” under VIP, but without the membership, it was actually $69.95.
Now being able to see the actual non–member prices I witnessed a similar trend. Items that had been listed for $17 were actually almost $50—some items even ran as high as $85.
But here’s the kicker: a VIP membership costs $49.95 a month—a detail I only realized after reading the small text underneath the “Continue to Checkout” button. But if VIP members get such amazing deals, could it be worth it?
Even though the cost per month is expensive, VIP members can supposedly choose to skip a month if they notify the company before the fifth day of that month. While this leniency is helpful for customers, the confusion and added costs of VIP membership are still somewhat manipulative.
It’s easy to find an item you like and add it to your cart, and if you’re not really paying attention to the small script, you may genuinely think the item is at the VIP price and not the more expensive guest price. Once you’re viewing your cart and ready to checkout, it isn’t obvious that you’re automatically signing up for the VIP program. For me, I had to scroll down a bit to notice that there was an option to click on a button that stated: “No, I don’t want VIP savings or perks.” It’s possible for customers to miss the fine print and accidentally sign up for the additional cost of the program.
Rihanna’s underwear brand, Savage X Fenty, uses the same VIP membership marketing tactic. Similar to Yitty, it portrays items as having much cheaper costs until you actually open the item’s page and realize it’s nearly twice as expensive.
While these brands offer size and style inclusivity in ways that many other brands do not, they fall prey to utilizing manipulative marketing tactics. Already, it’s difficult for people with different body types to find underwear that fits. It’s harmful when brands say they are promoting inclusivity when in reality, they are preying on consumers.
While it’s hard to say just how much control Lizzo had over her brand, it still represents her and what she stands for. And while this brand does a good job of promoting diverse bodies on its site, at the end of the day, by manipulating its buyers, it is doing more harm than good.