Beyond Measure: Fashion And The Plus Size Woman
Posted on February 17 2016
NYU currently has an exhibit featuring plus fashion, and they kicked it off with a panel to spark discussion. As a former NYU student and big supporter of plus fashion, I knew I had to go.
The exhibit featured everything from videos of Ashley Nell Tipton winning the last season of Project Runway to photos of plus models wearing padding to ads from the 1920s promoting plus fashion.
A controversial topic, and one that is rarely discussed, is that plus models often are stuffed with padding to ensure the perfect shape- giving them the illusion of a perfectly plump woman with no cellulite, stretch marks, or flaws.
To see more of these images, check out beyondmeasurenyu.com.
As discussed in the lecture, plus women have existed for much longer than most of us realize, which of course means that plus fashion has too. Generally, the smallest of garments are what are put on display in museums, giving the illusion that "people were just smaller back then," one of many fashion myths that we have come to accept.
Though the exhibit was very small it drew a big crowd, one that, like plus women who want to participate in fashion, simply could not fit into the space designated for it.
On the panel were model Stella Ellis, designer Eden Miller, and writer Kaye Toal. Unfortunately, these women were all white and very body positive, offering a similar perspective as each other. Some of the questions raised were expected, while others were very surprising. A question that seems to come up every time plus fashion is discussed, is if the plus woman has the money and is willing to spend on her clothing. This question got the panel upset, and got many in the audience upset as well- as many were plus women, clearly interested in fashion. This is a question that we at Hey Gorgeous! have heard countless times before- and one that we always answer, "Yes, the plus woman is more than willing to spend because she has never had the opportunity to participate in fashion previously."
Other questions raised were women asking where to buy plus underwear, questioning stereotypes about plus size celebrities, and the influence that bloggers had on the space.
What frustrated me, as someone who is part of Hey Gorgeous!, a company who wants to drastically change plus fashion and offer great options to plus women, I was disappointed by how much of the discussion was about the brands that refuse to serve the plus woman. Instead of focusing on the brands that are getting it right, instead of sharing shopping tips, instead of helping bring each other up and offer advice to each other the focus was on the negative: the brands that do not want our money, that want fashion to remain an exclusive club for the thin. Though there are so many brands, like us, who are trying so hard to provide a solution to be the answer to these prayers, the focus remained on the negative. With this body positive movement so strong, there should be a focus on what is right with the industry and what is changing.
Though the event left many hands in the air, many women wanting more out of the discussion, and many women upset with the lack of satisfaction from the panel, it struck a chord with everyone in the room. To me, the discussion showed that now, more than ever, women are hungry for change in their fashion options and are craving more.