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Starting from the mid-20th century, the fashion industry has been presenting young and thin people like it’s the only correct way to exist -especially for women. High fashion clothes were made in smaller sizes and worn by thin models; of course, this affected the ready-to-wear clothing, too. I want to say that ready-to-wear brands have always been nicer and more open to big people but their designs were either basic or not stylish. Most of the big size clothes were out of style, like things my grandma would wear. This supported the idea that young people are not allowed to be fat and bigger people are not fashionable -or even beautiful- so they can’t wear stylish clothes unless they lose weight. And there were tons of styling tips to “help” big people look thinner. It felt like this industry didn’t even care for them!
Luckily, the fashion industry couldn’t resist the demand and began making clothes for bigger sizes and representing bigger people in their fashion shows and advertisements. But it is pretty apparent that they were not doing this voluntarily. Remember when Calvin Klein presented their first plus-sized model Myla Dalbesio in 2014? She was a size 10 model who was still considered as a thin person by plus size people and they wanted to be represented by “even bigger” models who are size 16 and up. Then in 2019, 22-year-old rapper Chika featured in billboards for Calvin Klein and this was a great move. But did it really have to take this much time and bad moves to represent big people in fashion? I won’t even speak to how Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek excluded fat and trans women from their fantasy world in 2018, because it makes me angry.
However, I believe that ready-to-wear brands like LCW, Forever21 and H&M were handling this demand better than high fashion brands. As a fat woman, I know that I will always be able to find beautiful clothes whenever I go to those stores and this is how it should be. But another problem occurs here; I’m a “plus size” woman and I can’t wear clothes from the women’s section. I need to go to the plus size section like I’m not a female human but a different creature. This is pretty hurtful!
Because what does plus size clothing even mean? What is the point of creating an unnecessary category of clothes and present it like those garments are something different than “non-plus size” clothing? What makes bigger people different than thinner people except that they have bigger bodies? Maybe it’s a way to show that they care about fat people but fashion is not charity and bigger size clothes should be made out of necessity, not as a way to show how “inclusive” those brands are. And in my opinion, this classification is something that we should get rid of immediately. Plus size people are still people and they should be treated as such!
The only way that I may accept “plus size” section as a necessity is if patterns are made with the purpose of supporting one’s comfort and embracing the bigger bodies. Chubby arms, big bellies and the upper legs that rub each other all the time should be considered while patternmaking and designing. As a fashion designer who works with both smaller and bigger sizes, I know that this requires special attention and more work, because humans do not get bigger or smaller with scales. Bigger people are not actually smaller people who were enlarged from the sides like a puppy picture in Photoshop. So why are clothing patterns made like that?
One more thing to keep in mind is the fat tax. Fat tax is when brands ask for more money for the same garment in bigger sizes. They try to justify this by stating that they spend more money and fabric for it but believe me, they don’t. Even if they spend more money, they buy fabrics in bulk and it would only differ one or two dollars the most. They do this because they know there are not many options so bigger people will buy it anyway. But please, try not to support those brands who try to benefit from your existence and the beauty standards.
Before I go, here are some reminders: don’t be afraid of the word “fat” because it’s not an insult, it’s just an adjective and always keep in mind that you are precious and beautiful regardless of what size clothing you wear. So, for now, bye byes fashion pies!
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