Over the past couple of years, it has been continuously brought to the forefront that you do not need to be skinny to be beautiful. Images and campaigns promoting confidence and self-acceptance are common places online, in social media, on billboards, and in print ads.
More and more we see a fresh new version of fashion icons emerging in the modeling industry. Examples of this are Ashley Graham who, in 2017, stood out by being the first plus-size model on the cover of Vogue and walk in New York’s Fashion Week. In 2019 Victoria’s Secret introduced their first plus-sized model and in 1997 Emme was the first reported plus-size model to be displayed on a Times Square billboard. That trend continues as this year’s Spring 2020 fashion season recorded 68 plus-size models who had walked in a total of 14 different fashion shows. Personally, I think that it is a shame that plus-size models were not brought into the fashion industry earlier, but it is amazing that they are coming into play now.
Plus-size modeling has impacted the fashion industry immensely. One example is the increased size range of clothing that retailers are now offering. In 2019 over 20 major fashion brands extended their sizes well into the double digits to promote body positivity. Adidas extended their sizes from XS all the way to 4XL, American Eagle Outfitters now carries jeans in a size range from 00-24 in, Vineyard Vines also expanded their sizes from 00-24, and Lululemon has moved from selling only sizes 0-14 to offer sizes 0-20. I think that it is amazing how companies are extending their size range and being more inclusive to other girls around my age who may not have been able to wear some of the clothing in the past.
Body positivity has also changed the way that brands choose to label their campaigns. In 2014, Victoria’s Secret launched their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign which presented a row of 10 thin, tanned, and toned models posing sexily in just underwear and bras. Natalie Wan, a writer for The Medium, noted, “Victoria’s Secret has branded themselves with the image of perfectly thin women and that has shaped our society to think that we should achieve this look.” This campaign resulted in a lot of backlash because it was interpreted as Victoria’s Secret saying that only women that fit this image are considered to have a perfect body. To remedy this, Victoria’s Secret altered the tag line to ‘A Body For Every Body’ and publicly apologized noting that they did not think of how their original slogan would be received. In response to this specific campaign other companies, such as Dove, followed suit and released advertisements with plus-sized models, also standing in a line and wearing just underwear and bras with the caption ‘The Perfect Real Body’. This marketing stumble, by Victoria’s Secret, drew vast attention and discussion surrounding societies ideal that there is no such thing as a perfect body and all body types are beautiful. With this movement towards body positivity, fashion brands continue to showcase plus-size models in an effort to attract and please consumers of all body types.