Christian Siriano cast five plus-size models to
walk in his spring 2017 runway show at New York
Fashion Week last month.
the wake of last month’s presidential debate,
"body-shaming" has become one of the media’s
favorite buzzwords. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton
criticized her Republican opponent Donald Trump for
calling Alicia Machado, the 1996 Miss Universe pageant
winner, "Miss Piggy" and "an eating
machine" because she had gained some weight. Since
then, around-the-clock news networks have played the
soundbites on a loop and tapped dozens of commentators
to opine on the topic.
the fashion community has been leading its own
conversations about body- and weight-shaming, in hopes
of making it a thing of the past. From fashion shows to
photo shoots, more designers and brands are doing their
part to help ensure that women of many shapes and sizes
see reflections of themselves on the runway and in ad
New York Fashion Week last month, 16 plus-size models
walked the runway, making it the most body-positive
season ever, according to the Fashion Spot’s Runway
just wanted to have different sizes. That’s all it
was," designer Christian Siriano told NBC’s
"Today" Style. He cast five full-figured
models for his spring 2017 runway show. "But it’s
great that it made such an impact."
transgender models and a number of models older than 50
also were featured, the report said. Retail chain J.Crew
and designer Tracy Reese celebrated their customers’
individuality by inviting everyday people to take part
in their fashion week presentations.
are friends of the brand, members of our team and all
people we admire. They range in age from 13 to 70,"
J.Crew creative director and president Jenna Lyons said
about the models. "They’re students and parents
and grandparents. Professionals, artists, teachers and
activists. Each one has their own unique style and
beauty, and it has been an incredible experience to
approach a fashion show from this point of view."
brands also are rethinking how they cast their ad
campaigns. Pittsburgh-grown e-retailer ModCloth enlisted
employees, shoppers and models for its swimwear shoot
this summer. Last year, it made headlines for dropping
the term "plus-size" from its website, which
caters to sizes XS through 4X.
2014, the intimates brand Aerie, a division of South
Side teen clothing retailer American Eagle, launched #AerieReal,
a bold move to stop retouching models and to diversify
what those models look like. Earlier this year, the
label named British model, columnist and National Eating
Disorder Association ambassador Iskra Lawrence — who
was dropped by her agency at age 15 because she was told
her hips were too big — the campaign’s official
"role model." (In an interview in Seventeen
last week, Lawrence criticized a photographer earlier in
her career who heavily photo-shopped her images to make
her appear thinner.)
encouraging people to uplift one another no matter what
your size," said Mandy Holesh, the Pittsburgh-based
writer behind thecurvyblogger.com. In May, the brand
flew her to New York City to take part in an #AerieReal
photo shoot. "Everyone was just walking around in
their lingerie hanging out and eating doughnuts and
relaxing. It was amazing. I had to really embrace
started her website about six years ago as a platform
for voicing her frustrations with the fashion industry’s
inherent bias toward women with thinner bodies. Since
then, she’s watched body-positivity go from something
that only a few people were blogging about to a trending
topic on social media.
Lane Bryant’s new #ThisBodyIsMadeToShine fall
campaign, the longtime leader in plus-size women’s
apparel gave actresses Danielle Brooks and Gabourey
Sidibe and models Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine and
Alessandra Garcia the chance to rebut degrading comments
made about their bodies online.
hope I never let myself get that big," one says.
Sidibe’s response: "By big you mean amazing and
beautiful and fabulous, right?"
for fall, the retail chain collaborated with Glamour on
a special edition of the magazine called Fashion For
You, which spotlights styles for sizes 12 and up.
the progress, there’s still work to be done. Although
New York Fashion Week saw an increase in plus-size
models, other areas of diversity, such as models of
color, declined a bit this season, according to the
Runway Diversity Report. Also, time will tell if some of
these newcomers to the body-positivity trend are just
looking to attract media attention or have a true
commitment to serving more sizes.
really feel like the world is slowly figuring this
out," Holesh said. "It’s definitely
refreshing to see."