Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor
RVA Fashion Week’s Fall Fashion Weekend was beautiful last week — a show full of stunning designs and breathtaking models of different body types, sizes and colors. But that level of inclusion is the exception, not the norm, in a fashion industry that still neglects models who aren’t tall, skinny and white.
I can give credit where it’s due. Richmond’s fashion weekend had models walking the runway with such elegance, all of them unbelievably gorgeous. One designer, Very Ashley, highlighted body positivity to the fullest extent. The brand is primarily designed for a working woman — a woman who slays everywhere she goes and everything she does. All the models walking for Very Ashley on Sunday night had different body types, and the brand’s pieces fit so well, flattering all the models. There was no “perfect body” because they were all perfect.
One designer from Able claimed she was promoting body positivity, but the one “plus-sized” model she had walking wore a dress that was so unflattering, it looked like a curtain. If your line doesn’t accentuate the beautiful curves on the woman wearing it, that just means you haven’t tailored it to people of her body type.
Designers, please start designing clothes that fit women of all body types. Body positivity is a wave all of us will continue riding, but we need all women to be involved. If designers start making designs that flatter women of all shapes and sizes, it will twist the arms of those who don’t. We have yet another opportunity to create a movement so great that nobody can ignore it. More importantly, we have the opportunity to unite as women and lift one another up.
For the past decade, the fashion industry has been consistently scrutinized for its lack of inclusion, especially when it comes to body size. For as long as I can remember, models have been tall, skinny white women. As time has progressed, I’ve seen a bit more color. But, the tall and skinny characteristics of a model have stayed the same.
Calls for body positivity and inclusion in the fashion industry have gotten so loud, it’s no longer an option to ignore them. Nor should it be. Women deal with enough scrutiny from men; the last thing we need is to start coming at each other. Let’s keep it real: This stigmatized version of the “perfect model” comes from the fantasized version of the “perfect woman” created by men in their deranged, narrow minds.
Body positivity is a relatively new term. While it originated from calls of action to the fashion industry, it is meant to serve in all aspects of life. Fashion photographer and body positivity activist Anastasia Garcia describes body positivity as “the radical idea that you should love the skin you’re in, regardless of its size, shape, color, age, ability.”
Is it really that radical of a concept to advocate for body acceptance and self-love? Obviously Garcia is poking fun at the idea that there are people in this world that cannot seem to grasp the liberation of women from absurd social standards. Fashion executives, let’s choose to leave fat-shaming and degrading women in 2000 with low-rise flared jeans and cargo pants.
Companies that refuse to join the body positivity movement are receiving great backfire because of it. Ed Razek, a former Victoria’s Secret executive, told Vogue on behalf of the company that it isn’t interested in catering to the plus-sized market. I truly don’t care what Victoria’s Secret does. The brand can continue losing money over its lack of evolution. And it will lose money because, according to Forbes, by 2020 the plus-sized market will reach $39 billion in sales. So, if Victoria’s Secret and other bigoted companies want to give up their share, I hope they enjoy unemployment.
Ladies, the “perfect body” you see all over TV and on your social media is just propaganda meant to cause self-hate and body shaming. All of you are beautiful, to the fullest extent of that word. The “perfect body” is the one you have.