Looking at a Twitter post about plus size brands and how they are not representative of the people that wear their clothing got me thinking (very rare but it happens). Models like Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne are often used in campaigns for high fashion and main high street brands to represent their consumers but I’m sure you are not a stranger to controversy surrounding the lack of body diversity by these brands.
Everyone is usually up in arms when a new campaign comes out where it is pointed out that no one above a size 6 is featured and its influence on both women and men in how they view their bodies.
This isn’t a shock but I have now opened up my eyes to plus size brands and believe that the same questions can be raised about them too. No doubt if you buy from brands like Simply Be you know who Iskra Lawrence is (pictured below), she is pretty much the face of many plus size or body positive brands like Aerie.
I love her and believe she is someone who uses her platform to send a positive message out there but I can’t help but think that plus size brands are showcasing her as a representation of the plus size community within their campaigns when she only represents a small percentage of that community.
Whilst I think it’s a positive thing that they are using someone over a size 6 which is a move in the right direction, I am yet to see mainstream UK plus size brands using size 18 or 20 models for example in their main campaigns which is a true representation of the women that wear their clothing. I see it on social media that plus size bloggers get to showcase what the clothes look like on their bodies which helps their followers see what it looks like on someone their size but why can’t we take it a step further and do this in their catalogues, billboard or website images?
It is like popular magazines like Elle, People or Rolling Stone who state that they are jumping on the body positive movement and feature different body types on their covers but just take a look at how they do it. Melissa McCarthy on the cover of Elle was shown in baggy clothes which covered her body to the point where it almost looks like they are trying to hide it and when she isn’t wearing something baggy, they show head shots which doesn’t showcase her full body.
(Images from: www.eonline.com, www.people.com)
Same thing with Gabourey Sidibe on the cover of Elle is again given a head shot when if you know who she is, you know she is quite proud and unapologetic about her size. They also lightened her skin (just saying).
But take a look at their cover of actresses with a small frame, more often than not, they feature full body shots everywhere with clothing that showcases their size.
Need I say more? (images from: www.pintrest.com, www.elle.com)
Both Melissa and Gabourey don’t strike me as women that want to hide away their bodies as there are outspoken about how much they are against body standards but are magazines and plus size brands not reinforcing the very same thing we have been trying to steer high fashion brands from?
When curvy models are shown, they are women who have society’s ‘ideal’ version of curvy, which is busty, small waist and plump bottom. We are being sold the same dream that brands like Top Shop sells but in a different way. I sometimes feel like they are sending the message that they are curvy women out there and we accept it but you have to be ‘the right kind of curvy’.
There is also a lack of representation of ethnic minorities both in campaigns and social media. I saw a disheartening debate on twitter where Black and Asian bloggers were stating that when brands are looking for bloggers to represent their brand, they are rarely chosen. Whilst many might want to argue against this point, the evidence is there.
The blogging community is very diverse and I love how everyone has a quirky style, which makes them different and they all seem to accept each other. However, when looking at brands and observing who they often send bloggers’ mail to or ask to cover an event, very rarely are they WoC which again minimises the number of people being represented by that brand.
Things will never change until we accept that EVERYONE needs to be represented. Different sizes, ages, races and abilities should be used to truly represent the people that buy their clothes. It is a disservice to continue accepting that brands only use body types that are socially accepted as a way of representing various body types out there.
With that being said, it is not ok that Iskra gets body shamed a lot by others who feel like she does not represent most plus size women. You are basically doing to her what the fashion industry has done to the plus size community for years. She has been chosen by the brands and like anyone out there presented with a similar opportunity you would take it. She does represent women with bodies like hers and there’s nothing wrong with that but somehow I see comments where people make it seem like her accepting the jobs is wrong and immoral.
What we should be fighting for is for other body types to stand next to hers so that we see a complete picture of diversity not try to push her out.
Mymilla doesn’t specifically just cater to the plus size market as we feature sizes from 8 upwards. We do however, acknowledge that we have customers of different sizes and try our best to feature a range of sizes for everyone to relate to. We may not have captured every body but we have done more in the few months we have been open in regards to the body types featured that what most brands have done so far.
Brands like Curvy Kate I love simply because they let people choose who their next model will be which allows customers to choose someone who they believe represents them. Every year a different body type is included in their campaign and this is what I think true body positivity is!
What are your thoughts on the issue and do you feel represented by the brands you buy from?