I love fashion, but the fashion industry seems to completely disregard the everyday woman. The highly anticipated New York Fashion Week once again barely acknowledged the average- dare we say “real”- woman in its display of haute couture. The “real” average woman now wears between a size 6 -18, according to new research from Washington State University, but new trends in sizes above size 6 were almost non-existent and plus-sized models like Ashley Graham were few and far between. It is all too reasonable to ask: So where are the curves?
Have you shopped retail for size 12+ clothing? My shopping experiences with friends who have curvy bodies have been insulting and upsetting. Half the items available make the body look larger with large prints, unflattering textures, and rushing in the wrong places. It is obvious that the everyday woman has been forgotten by designers.
Online shopping can also be disastrous. In July, my dear friend Amy who is a proud size 8, ordered a dress online for her brothers wedding (she had ordered from this site many times) and when she received the dress, her frustration and disappointment was difficult to contain. It was a size 4 or smaller, not a size 8. The site had changed its sizing without notice. It is a common problem that many can all relate to: You never know what you’ll end up with when ordering online, and most of the clothing is made smaller than the stated size.
The majority of designers max out at size 12 and the selection at many retailers for larger women doesn’t even compare to what’s available for a size 2 woman. Mariah Chase, CEO of plus-size retailer Eloquil, said she estimates that “65 percent of American woman are considered plus size, but the category only represents about 17 percent to 18 percent of apparel sale”. These offerings are more limited than ones in the so called straight sizes.
Last week I was talking to two of the most inspirational women in my life about this issue and they were very clear that there are no choices for women size 10+. They said that the sleeves are too tight, the spandex materials are not flattering and the fabric shows all the things they don’t want to show. They insisted that the media and social media are pushing thin so much that most women feel not pretty enough, skinny enough or sexy enough. After speaking with them it was clear that the issue of size shaming is very real and that the fashion industry needs to show the average woman what’s flattering and provide advice and examples of what they should be wearing, instead of making them feel bad about their bodies.
CEO, Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie and Fitch sells nothing larger than a size 10, with Jeffries explaining that “we go after the attractive, all-American kid”. This is a complete failure that is attributable solely to the fashion industry as a whole. How are we influencing our next generation of girls by constantly enforcing “beautiful” as rail thin, 6 foot tall models? There are 100 million “plus-sized” (size 6 +) women in America but many designers seem too nervous to take a stand, and refuse to ruin their “dream” silhouette by including all shapes and sizes in their designs. The industry is creating complexes in people of all ages by the models they choose, the sexualizing of women in provocative styles and the disregard of the majority of women who have hips, a butt and boobs.
This issue, the Industry itself, is difficult to change. From magazines to advertising to runways, fashion designers like promoting the myth that has been created of the “glamour of thin”. The “shape issues” commonly seen on magazine covers these days do not even acknowledge anyone above size 12. Designers choose models with bodies completely unattainable for most women – – which in turn, seems to glamorize eating disorders and cause insecurity issues to the majority of girls and women.
I truly believe that women of every size can look and feel beautiful. But they must be given choices, it is designers responsibility to show all women what flatters their bodies and then supply those looks. Let’s choose to promote reality instead, and to show our daughters, nieces and next generation that they do not need to feel guilty for being different than the models that are pushed in their faces. Don’t let the fashion industry steal your passion for fashion. Let’s all be realistic about what looks good on our bodies and accept ourselves the way we were made!