by Stefanie | 08.19.21
There has long been a huge disconnect between the fashion industry and reality. Historically, most designers catered only to consumers who fit into “straight sizes,” which typically run from US size 0 to US size 10. The people they chose to model these garments were rarely larger than a size 4. Models larger than a size 6 were considered “plus-size” and models larger than a size 10 just didn’t exist.
Remember, in the dark ages, pre-internet, most of us were exposed to fashion only through print ads found in magazines or the celebrities we gawked at on tv during the red carpet, pre-Oscars coverage. Unless you happened to be taller than 5’10”, weigh less than 115 pounds, and have perfectly symmetrical facial features, you probably didn’t have much in common physically with these beauty ideals. Women clung to the hope that if they dieted excessively, exercised obsessively, and spent thousands on cosmetics and hair care then they too could achieve this gold standard.
In the coming decades, as the Internet became more mainstream, the idea of Body Positivity began to take hold, with non-celebrities putting images of themselves out there for the world to see, regardless of their physical statistics. The focus slowly started shifting towards honoring each individual body as strong, alluring, and deserving of love and respect; the idea that no one should have to face discrimination or ridicule because of their appearance.
The fashion and beauty industry reluctantly began to take notice and realize that this notion of self-love and acceptance wasn’t going to fade away. Inclusive, plus-size clothing options slowly became more mainstream. But old habits die hard and even though clothing was being marketed as plus-size or curvy, the models they used to promote these garments were still exclusively in the straight-size realm. Companies were starting to talk the talk, but were nowhere near ready to walk the walk.
As “Plus-Size” gained mainstream momentum, there also became a need to confirm and validate those that didn't quite fit into a category. On the one hand, we have the Straight-Size ladies, up to size 10, and on the other hand, we have the Plus-Size gals, made up of women size 16 and above. But in the middle we have a powerful group of women who straddle the line between straight and plus-size. Previously ignored or shoved into ill-fitting boxes, these women make up the Mid-Size Movement. The Mid-Size crew may be the new word on the buzzword block but it has some heavy hitters. Today, accepted standards of beauty have thankfully morphed into a gloriously all-encompassing vision, thanks in part to celebrities like Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, and Kelly Clarkson. These MVPs all stood up and said this is who I am; I am worthy regardless of my physical features or the number on the scale.
More and more people are singing the praises of what is now called The Body Neutrality Movement. While Body Positivity focuses on loving your physical self, Body Neutrality is the idea that your appearance isn’t what you should be focusing on at all. Appearance shouldn’t be tied to self-worth or self-love. Instead, remind yourself of all the things your body can do for you, whether that is running a marathon, carrying your children, or traveling to far-off lands. And if you feel like having pizza for breakfast on Tuesday then more power to you because you are actually listening to your body and giving it what it wants. Body Neutrality is basically physical mindfulness. If we can stop obsessing over what we see in the mirror and shift our focus to what really makes our bodies feel good then we may finally be on the path to true self-acceptance.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter every day, with so many companies in the fashion and beauty realm focusing on inclusivity and individuality, rather than superiority and conformity. Let’s keep the train moving; next time you’re in the market for a new outfit or change in skincare routine, pay extra attention to the brand’s messaging. Read the About Us page and company philosophy and buy accordingly. Money talks and for the first time in this industry, we all have a voice.