Written by Casey Milano
Picture it, you’re backstage at a runway show surrounded by beautiful people, expensive make-up, diet coke and cigarettes covers the table. And behind this backstage there is another show. Throwing up meals, eating orange-soaked cotton wool, empty laxative packets in the bathroom, starving and binging until you can’t even remember when or how it started, exercising until you pass out. All whilst looking glamorous in beautiful clothes most people would only dream of wearing. If you can do all this, you can be a model. For the last 50 years or so this was not only the life a lot of models lived, it was expected.
Roll on to the 00’s this dark side of the industry was exposed, models passing out on the catwalk, some dying. Finally, models started speaking out, modelling agencies along with designer themselves had to start taking responsibility along with making sure their models health was number one.
What does this have to do with plus size models and the rise of designers making their clothes more accessible? Well, everything. Besides from the unattainable standards of living the fashion industry can portray the most debatable and publicised aspect of the industry has always been its inability to embrace bigger sizes not just in terms of models but the size range they offer and what it means for the rest of us.
Fashion is for everyone, we all wear clothes, most us love clothes and how they can make us feel. So, it should be the norm that all body shapes and size is represented on the runway, is one person’s money worth more than another’s? Many fashion houses have made the excuse that they can’t make bigger sizes because of cost of the fabric, the man power etc but do they not also see that making their clothes open to more people they would earn more money? Let’s face it a lot more women would consider looking at new collections if they knew their size would be available.
But finally, there is hope! The world movement of every shape, size and colour is worthy of respect and representation has reformed the fashion industry, from plus size models taking the catwalks by storm to designers including bigger sizes in their collections all the way down to high street stores using fuller figured mannequins in window displays and creating new collections for sizes up to 30. And guess what? Its working!
Although the favour of the thin frame is still at the forefront on the catwalks another shape is slowly changing the rule that clothes only look good on a certain body type. Look through any magazine now and you will see a change in how labels are being represented, the ‘labels are for clothes’ campaign brought to our attention by River Island has been taken on by many brands showcasing that whoever you are fashion is universal and what it says on the label hold no bearing (apart from the ‘take care’ section – always wash at 30 degrees people). And this diversity isn’t just being celebrated by high street brands.
Sophie Dahl set the catwalk on fire in the 1990’s and as a size 14 was considered large (I know Right?!) but the fashion world fell in love and she reached supermodel stardom being featured in Germanys Vogue as well as Italian Vogue, Visionaire and Vanity Fair.
Iskra Lawrence, you can’t read any fashion mag or scroll through Instagram without seeing Iskra somewhere. The British model has become a household name not only for her career but for being so honest about her body and the darker side of the industry. She’s an ambassador for the National Eating Disorder association. She’s also the global role model for Aerie, a brand of clothing from American Eagle Outfitters.
Crystal Renn might have changed over the last few years, but she will forever be known as one of the most of successful plus size models of her era, being told she was ‘too fat’ to be a model she lost half her body weight only to still be told she was too big. After embracing her body and gaining bac her health she became the face of Jimmy Choo’s spring/summer collection in 2011 along with walking for Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier and becoming the face of high street stores H&M and Mango.
Candice Huffine – international fashion model Candice is best known for being the first plus size model to be featured in the Pirelli calendar. Candice has walked for Prabal Gurung, Sophie Theallet and Christian Siriano (who proudly featured 5 plus size models down the catwalk at his 2016 show at New York Fashion Week).
Ashley Graham, didn’t we all love it when Ashley became the first plus size model to make the famous cover of Sports Illustrated? Causing some backlash Ashley silenced the critics by then landing the next 3 covers straight after. Not wanting any of her pictures retouched Ashley is a role model to women and girls around the world for standing up to the industry and embracing her curves and showing us, we can all rock a swimsuit at any size!
Ultimately the fashion industry still has a long way to go for embracing all sizes, but these small steps have already made a huge difference and reminded us all that fashion can’t be exclusive. Long let it continue.