I’m finally sifting through the pages of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, happy, because Ashley Graham is on the cover, and just when I think it can get no better, I come across another plus size fav, Philomena Kwoa! Two pluses? As I flip further, I see a Lane Bryant lingerie ad with gorgeous Precious Lee. Precious became my girl crush in last month’s Essence mag when she showed everybody how a glam shoot is supposed to look .
As a former model who got in the fashion game in the early 90’s when waifs like Kate Moss ruled the runway, and being one pound overweight could get you banned, it’s refreshing to see these ladies. I mean, I had a decent career, but it would have been a lot better if I didn’t have to fight against my body type to fit a standard that was beyond normal. Now I’m seeing these big, bodacious beauties pushing through to the mainstream and I can’t help but wonder if the fashion industry is finally loosening its iron fist, or shall I say, weight scale? Are they finally ready to show women as we really are?
I’m curious, so I call my friend Inanna, a celebrity stylist based in LA, to see if she’s noticed any plus size trends. She says she hasn’t noticed any significant changes in fashion, but in commercial TV, where she works a lot, brands favor a size 10.” Okay, that’s pretty standard. Commercials have always been more accepting of different body types. They’re marketing to Middle America so it makes sense.
I decide to call my girl Cyndi Wheat in New York next since she’s all about fashion. She’s been styling for 20 years and has her finger on the pulse of what’s going on. Does she feel the fashion industry is becoming more open to different body types?
“Definitely,” she says. “There are regulations when it comes to weight, so no more waif models. And also, women don’t want to look like models, they’re obsessed with celebs like Kim K., Amber Rose, J-LO, and Beyonce. These women are more voluptuous, so advertisers see a huge opportunity with the plus size market.”
Talk about a growing market. No one can deny that women wanna look like these celebs. The butt implant industry is the fastest growing plastic surgery in the U.S. Then there’s the 78 million obese Americans who obviously need to buy clothes. Why not nice ones? Dove Beauty has been engaging this market for over ten years, using women of all shapes and sizes. So it makes sense that fashion is finally waking up. Get ready to see more curvy girls!
But still, how much is the fashion industry willing to change?
When I think about fashion dating back to the beginning, it’s always been about white women. She was beautiful by the European standard and unattainably thin. And that’s why she was put on a pedestal for the world to see. She was aspirational in that you couldn’t be her, but you could spent money trying.
Now women no longer want to be white, they’d rather be ethnic with bigger lips, hips, boobs and butt. So the models are starting to reflect this. But her beauty is still very aspirational. It’s funny because the biggest complaint I hear when it comes to Plus Size models is, ‘She’s not that big. She’s normal.” I don’t know the last time you saw a woman carry 200 lbs. and look as dreamy as these women, but you will spend money trying. Well, that’s fashion.
Don’t expect too much change.