Sizing Up the Fashion Industry

12 Nov

I majored in magazine journalism in college. I thought I’d either be a writer or a designer. Even though I now work in newspapers, I still love magazines. I have been a longtime subscriber to Elle, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Esquire.

As you can tell, I like my fashion magazines. I’m aware of the fashion industry’s lack of representation for all types: height, shape, size, skin color, etc. Last year during Paris Fashion Week, a designer broke the mold and used regular women, not professional models in his show. They were a glorious rainbow of shades, shapes and sizes. They stomped down the runway and all anyone could talk about the next day was how brave Rick Owens was for breaking the mold. Again, that was a year ago.

Last month, Calvin Klein launched its new “Perfectly Fit” underwear campaign featuring six models, seen above. Looking at the photos, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the female model in the bottom-right corner, Myla Dalbesio, is the larger of the five women at a size 10. She looks beautiful, just like everyone else.

It wasn’t until recently when Elle published an interview with Dalbesio in which she was called plus size that social media went into a tizzy.

To be fair, it wasn’t Calvin Klein or even Dalbesio calling herself plus size. It was Elle. The magazine’s site updated their story and even changed the headline to read “The Rise of the In-Between Model,” but the url is still “plus size.”

DalBesio went on the Today show to discuss the hubbub about her ad, saying, “Life doesn’t work in only extremes.” Most fashion campaigns and runway shows feature models who are very thin. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where a designer will create pieces specifically for a much larger frame or even go on to shock the world with a fashion show featuring and abundance of sizes.

I applaud Calvin Klein for using a model of average size and not making a big thing about it. It’s a step in the right direction to show that women of all sizes need to be represented. My waist is a size 8, but my hips and thighs will at times put me in a 10. I don’t see myself as plus sized. I’ve been plus sized. I used to shopped at stores that catered specifically to plus sized women when I was an 18 flirting with a size 20. Nowhere in the racks did I see a size 10. For Elle to fall back on the trope of plus sized just because DalBesio wasn’t their norm is offensive and short sighted.

I wish more brands like Calvin Klein would take into account the women of varying shapes and sizes that want to wear they’re clothes. Some of us are tall or short, curvy or straight. Some of us have pear shapes, while others are hourglass. All of us are different hues. And we’re all looking for the “Perfect Fit.” I understand it’s not feasable to cater to every size for every piece. But just to acknowledge that we’re out there will make a world of difference.

Now What?

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