I’m away at camp this week, and will be returning to regular posts next week. But in the meantime, a number of fellow fashion bloggers and I were recently talking about size and the fashion industry. A blogger friend, who writes for the blog Beautifully Invisible, penned the following article about the issue and I thought it offered some serious food for thought. I am publishing it here with her permission. – Katie

This is a topic that has already come up on my blog a number of times. I shared some of my own thoughts early on when I wrote “Size 14 is Not Fat Either It’s Invisible.” Then, just this past week, this post about a Cosmopolitan Australia photoshoot featuring sisters Courtney and Laura Wells really led to some great discussions in the comments. This isn’t a new subject by any means, but it seems like lately it has really dominated the news. According to this recent New York Times piece by Ginia Bellafante, the shift dates to last fall, when Glamour ran a small picture of a 5-foot-11, 180-pound model comfortably exposing her paunch. So unusual was the appearance of belly fat in this context that the magazine received thousands of letters and comments, most of them roaring with support.”  The response was so great, in fact, that they began featuring more plus-sized women and printed the photo of Lizzie Miller again in their most recent issue.

A few monthís after the Glamour photo generated buzz, Lane Bryant caused a stir with their television ad for Cacique, its lingerie line.  The ad, starring model Ashley Graham, was labeled as too risquÈ by ABC and Fox due to “excessive cleavage.” There was ample cleavage in the ad, yes, but the product being featured provided more coverage than what you’d see in a typical Victoria’s Secret spot.  The problem was the plus-sized model.  Both networks eventually aired the ads in some form, but not until Lane Bryant accused them of being “sizeist.”

This past January, V Magazine featured five plus-sized beauties in a story entitled “Curves Ahead” in its size issue.  Meanwhile, the popularity of Mad Men has resulted in the stunning Christina Hendricks gracing numerous magazine covers, including the July/August Health Magazine I just picked up.  In July, the New York City location of Saks Fifth Avenue announced that it is piloting a program that will have them selling a limited number of plus-sized clothing with high-end designer labels:

After recent review, we concluded there are customers who desire designer clothing in sizes that are not currently available in our stores. To meet their needs, Saks Fifth Avenue has worked with certain well-known designers, and for fall this year we will offer some designer brands up to size 18 in select Saks Fifth Avenue locations.

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Most recently, Robert Duffy, the business partner of Marc Jacobs, broke the news via twitter that Marc Jacobs would be designing a plus-sized line.  Although there are other high-end designers out there who have some plus-sized offering, like Rachel Pally and Dolce & Gabbana, Jacobs would be the first major label to make a significant impact in the “plus-sized” world.  Sounds like good news, no?

 

The New York Times article I mentioned above is entitled “Plus-Size Wars.”  Although the title refers more to the roadblocks between supply and demand for plus-sized clothing, the true war zone can be found in the reader comment area.  Here are just a few worth noting:

John: “Anything larger than a size 12 should only be made in sweatpants material.”

Mark in Minn: “Turn off your ac, get sweaty, put down the remote, stop drinking gallons of soda pop, and go outside.”

JB: “Should we really be encouraging people to stay fat in our society by tacitly approving it by giving them more choices of what to wear?”

Sherry: Personally, I hate that society would glamorize or promote acceptance of obesity.  If you can’t find clothes to fit you – exercise, eat right and hopefully lose weight… I hope the fashion industry continues to struggle trying to dress the overweight, success would only mean enabling bad lifestyle choices.

Final thoughts: at the beginning of this blog entry I mentioned that there were some great reader comments on my earlier post on Courtney and Laura Wells.  Here are two of those comments to reflect on:

Fashion Butter: “What makes me sad in all of this mess is that us women seem to enjoy picking teams about everything just to tear each other apart. This mentality extends far beyond the plus size/skinny debate, I have noticed that we can be very quick to negatively label other women when it comes to almost anything in life – friendships, relationships, careers, raising children, etc. In a perfect world, I wish that we could all be a little more self-aware and be more supportive of each other.”

A Brit Greek: “…We all have it in us to be judgmental and are quick to fire an opinion about everything you have mentioned, it’s a shame the media doesn’t help much either – by labeling, criticizing, telling us what they think is right half the time. We’re all unique individuals, no-ones perfect!  “Those who have not yet accepted their own imperfection are the first ones to judge and criticize the faults of others…””

Applause for these two ladies, please.

And I leave you with this quote from Sophia Loren:  “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

Katie Hinderer

Katie Hinderer is a freelance writer and social media enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism from Marquette University. Over the years she has transitioned from traditional publishing...