For decades, women have been forced to believe that only one size is beautiful; the skinnier you are, the more beautiful you are. No magazines would ever have a chubby woman on their cover and no runways featured the curvy woman.
The reality is; much as designers at the time sold the slim body as the perfect body, women do come in all sizes; slim, petite, plus size and they are all perfectly beautiful. In recent years, the curvy woman has attracted a lot more attention thanks to the Social media and trendsetters like Beyonce, Jeniffer Lopez and Kim Kardashian embracing their curves and showing many women around the world that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being curvy. More women now go for plastic surgery to enhance their hips and bums if they are not naturally endowed, a shocking twist to what was the trend only a few years back. It was highly likely that you would find more teenagers with eating disorders, unlike today where young women ask for a new pair of boobies or butt implants for their birthdays. While this may not be exactly the right way to go about it, it is a pointer to how mindsets have changed and the society is now embracing women they are a lot more.
Countries like France, for instance, have created a law banning the use of unhealthy and extremely thin models for fashion shows and on magazine covers. Madrid has followed suit banning the use of anorexic models on runways. This not only boosts the confidence of the women on the streets but also makes it easy for models who for years were forced to stick to a zero diet to get jobs. Supermodel Tyra Banks praised Victoria Secrets for not forcing her to lose weight in order to walk their runway. According to research by Mckinsey &Co, the use of the word plus size on fashion press tripled in 2016 from 2015 and in 2017 Vogue featured Ashley Graham alongside other models on their cover as a celebration of diversity sparking a debate on the topic. With this trend quickly gaining popularity, plus size women now feel a lot more confident and the good thing about this trend is that it does not make the naturally slim girl with an athletic body feel bad about herself. This new trend basically embraces women of all sizes and as such we now see more designers adding plus sizes into their clothing lines, we now have plus size runways and even plus size supermodels like Ashley Graham. Gears have changed and instead of the consumers following trends pushed to them by the fashion industry, the industry is now adjusting to the demands and perceptions of the consumers. It’s only sensible that they do so especially considering that a survey by Forbes has Shown that over 30% of women do not fit the size 0-12 limit. As a matter of fact, the average woman is a size 14 which falls under the plus size category.
The Media to has played a significant role in shedding light on this issue. Over the years, many women and even men have been fat shamed. It is almost as if we all should be the same size because that is what we have been made to believe is the right size. The fashion industry has not only come under immense pressure from the media but has also been forced to conform to the plus size trend by Instagram models. Unlike recent years, designers now advertise via Social media influencers with a huge following and a lot of times these women are curvy. One does not necessarily have to create a mega fashion show to sell designs as these women have a great deal of influence on their thousands or even millions of followers.
Some of the retailers that are blazing the trail include Nordstrom who extended their sizes in their new store Century City. Traditionally, most designers only had sizes ranging from 2-12. Nordstrom requested their customer’s favorite brands to increase their sizing to cater for sizes 18-24 which is basically the plus size range. Denims were the first brands that were approached and even the Mannequins in their stores represent their new ideal’s. In addition to increasing sizes, Nordstrom has also integrated all the sizes in one department rather than having petite and plus sizes separately. Brands that have been featured include Rag and Bone, Topshop as well as Madewell. There are about forty brands in total expected to increase their sizing for the retailer and this includes brands that carry activewear, ready to wear and even swimwear. Another retailer extending its size range is Express through its ‘Express Your rules’ campaign that targets its six hundred stores. The main aim of the campaign is to bring an all-inclusive shopping experience to its customers. High-end designers are however notably still resistant to embracing plus sizes. We are yet to have plus size angels walking the Victoria Secrets runway. Designers generally have expressed their struggles in creating plus size designs as it is not easy to predict whether the pieces they create will be flattering to the women of those sizes. Some designers also assume the belief that it is highly unlikely for affluent women who are their target customers to fall into the plus size category.
With more plus-size models, bloggers, YouTubers and even Instagram models gaining global attention and venting their frustrations on exclusion, there is no way the fashion industry can progress anymore without responding to this group of women who represent what most women look like. It is only expected that moving on, every fashion line will add the extra Xs and benefit from the now fashion forward plus size woman. Who is your favorite designer?