New York Fashion week is just around the corner, and while most of us normal kids don’t really notice the trends that debut here, there is one development that is making headlines. In keeping with the trend last year, when the industry was admonished for supporting the image of a malnourished and unhealthy stick thin model, they plan to do something even more drastic this year. Now, an entire catwalk show devoted to plus sized models will run, in which all the women are sizes 12 and above. The fashion industry and the media is touting this advance as showcasing “real women” and acknowledging that no one who ultimately buys the clothes seen at fashion week is a size 0. Here, the article in BBC News tells how these many plus size models are stepping out of the catalogs and onto the catwalk, a first for most runways, especially those showcasing “high fashion”.
While I think it’s great that the fashion industry is finally designing for a size besides zero, I resent the simple ignorance of all sizes between zero and twelve. A model in the fashion industry it seems, must either be a stick or very curvy, and in fashion terms, curvy can only mean a size 12 or higher. While it’s true that the majority of women in the United States are a size 14, this only further confounds the sizes of models shown in the fashion week. It is clear that the fashion industry has no interest in empowering women about their size, they simply wish to cater to a market that is drastically growing. Instead of showcasing two size extremes, why not empower women of all sizes to feel good in nice clothes? Where is the image of the woman who is neither underweight or overweight, who is somewhere in between? It is strange that fashion seems to congregate at the extremes of size, while the many people who live a healthy active lifestyle will never be a size zero or a size 12, but are largely ignored. The modeling industry seems closed to those women who are neither size zero or twelve, but are still beautiful, healthy, and capable of selling clothes.
Of course, cultivating larger sizes in the world of fashion is wonderful, and should be supported, but then another question arises. If the average American woman is a size 14, why is it called a plus-size? If this size 12 model being showcased at fashion week is a “real woman,” why does she still bear the title “plus-size?” Perhaps we should deem the other models “under-size,” and simply leave it at that. And while the fashion world is regaling the show of plus sized models as fashion forward and revolutionary, the American media failed to even mention it as newsworthy. In the UK, the average woman is 11 pounds smaller than the average American woman, and yet they can embrace the idea of larger models much more readily than the country where a larger individual is even more represented. It has long been assumed that if you are larger than a size zero, it is impossible to be fashionable to the same standards as a stick thin model. The clothing choices available reinforce this false belief, and many nice clothing boutiques do not carry sizes beyond 8 or 10, and even when they do there are only a few at the very bottom of the pile. I see it constantly: whenever I am browsing a store or online, it is overwhelmingly the sizes between zero and 12 that are sold out, and the extremes remain. So why are the extremes the only sizes being showcased at fashion week? It’s time that the designers stop trying only to be edgy and avante garde, and add to their designs by flattering the versatile and complicated curves of the female form, in all shapes and sizes.