As we all know, and whether we like it or not, fashion has become synonymous with appearance. Over the years, the way we dress and the way we look has come to define who we are.
Yes, the way we dress displays our personality to the world and our sense of style and confidence as a woman—or a man. But it should NOT define or classify someone as sexy (or not so sexy).
Fortunately, there are quite a few brands and industry leaders that have been making some major changes. Target (despite recent controversy) is releasing a plus-size line. Aerie’s models are no longer being retouched. Lane Bryant is combating Victoria’s Secret with their new #ImNoAngel campaign. And Dove reminds us all to “choose beautiful.”
On top of that, last week, we learned that France has officially placed a ban on too-thin models. It’s a bold move, but one that’s long overdue. While the U.S. has yet to move for legislation, France is home to some of the biggest designers in the world, meaning this will have a huge impact in years to come. The importance of health and the serious consequences that result from eating disorders is something that can no longer be shied away from. It’s not only for Lifetime movies. Things need to change.
However, with that said, there’s another side to this “argument,” if you will, that needs to be discussed.
While it’s important to show young girls and women that beautiful doesn’t have to mean “supermodel thin,” it’s also important to show girls with naturally slender figures that they are not to be ashamed of who they are. Every woman is beautiful, just the way she is, and as long as we continue to draw a line between plus-size and supermodel, the problem will never go away.
Meghan Trainor experienced this firsthand with the release of her song, “All About That Bass.” I personally love the track, but I’ve also had quite a few friends complain to me, feeling as if portrays them as less attractive and less desirable in the eyes of their male counterparts. Then, of course, the girl with the “bass” comes back with the argument that she’s been ridiculed and “fat-shamed” her entire life, only because she doesn’t look like Karlie Kloss. (No offense, Karlie. You’re gorgeous.) And then there are those who will tell you that the reason plus-sized lines have taken so long to come to fruition is because it’s more work for the designers, as draping and construction is completely changed when you go past a certain size. While that may be true, it’s not a valid excuse. The whole thing is just one giant, vicious cycle, seemingly never-ending.
A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook. The article, titled, “Stop Making The Thin Girl Ugly,” comes from Jenni Chiu, someone with a naturally thin body, worrying for the girls out there that are just like her. She mentions that ceasing the use of one type of model isn’t the answer, but perhaps using other types of models is. We need to recognize that there is no one type of woman, and therefore there is no one type of beautiful.
To quote Jenni, “…they all want to be represented, and in the end, they all probably want to buy clothes.” That’s the bottom-line, isn’t it? We all just want to buy clothes and feel good in them. We want to know that if we see a dress in a window or in an ad, we can wear it too, no matter what size or shape we are.
To be clear, I am in no way am I trying to cause any controversy, or promote certain lifestyles. All I want is for people to acknowledge that there is more to this than meets the eye. We can’t let our own insecurities push us into believing that anyone not like us, anyone with a skinnier or curvier body, is less beautiful, or not worthy enough to be featured on a magazine cover or in a cosmetics ad. Or, vice versa, that we are unworthy ourselves.
The industry has a long way to go before we see some true and positive change. And a large portion of the responsibility for that change lies in the hands of these big brands that are always in front of us, bombarding us with imagery of the “ideal” woman. But a large portion of the responsibility also lies within us. We need to change our attitude. At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie, I’m going to end this with a simple quote from Gandhi:
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We may feel like we are merely insignificant consumers, but the consumer is the key to a business. We hold the power, let’s use it.