The ongoing battle for diversity in fashion has been a long struggle. But for whatever reason, I can't help but feel that 2015 has been the year that fashion has gotten more diverse, easily observed by the inclusion of fat people in fashion. As my own horizons have broadened, I've noticed more and more headlines and think pieces making it onto my screen about body positivity. Even if this is just another fad or yet another buzzword, this is a positive movement that is gaining traction and attention. To me, that'll never be a negative thing.
The power of the fat community, be it fat bloggers or fat celebrities, has helped to diversify fashion in many ways — ways that don't solely benefit fat individuals, either. By recognizing beauty in different sizes, we become open to seeing beauty in all different types of people. And if you do meet mainstream beauty standards? Remember that somebody else's beauty doesn't detract from your own.
IMO, we need to recognize and celebrate the efforts made by the fat community in changing views — not just the views of fat people or the plus size fashion industry, but the fashion world as a whole. Of course, this isn't to say that the sartorial world is fully body positive and inclusive now. We still have a long way to go. But that doesn't mean we can't sit back and appreciate the changes that have already happened. Amongst the things fat activists are accomplishing, here are nine ways they have diversified the industry.
1. Bringing Consciousness To Body Positivity
For starters, almost all fat activists champion body positivity. Through embracing self love and celebrating different body types, the fashion world has been forced to include more and more different types of bodies and people in its campaigns, advertisements, and all-around media.
2. Promoting Intersectionality
The fight for body positivity isn't just about weight. It's also about race, ability, gender, and sexuality, and it's for every person who doesn't adhere to traditional beauty standards as well as those who do. By making the fashion world consider that beauty can be found in fat people, fat individuals have arguably opened the doors for all other kinds of people, too.
3. Fighting For More Options
Online fashion powerhouses — such as ASOS Curve and Boohoo Plus — have proved that you can make stylish plus size clothing and make profits. Regardless of the money thing, though, it's nothing short of amazing to see plus size clothing that's glittery or bright or tight, after spending my teenage years following my mom into drab stores filled with dark, shapeless clothing. As fat individuals have proven that they want to and can be fashionable, the plus size fashion world has changed dramatically to provide so many different options for women.
4. Challenging Beauty Standards
For too long, brands have been able to claim diversity by casting one model of color in a show or featuring the occasional bit of body hair, but the definition of diversity is changing, and fat people are one voice out of many demanding more from the industry. By challenging what beauty is and widening the lens through which we view it, diverse representation has started to make its appearance.
5. Changing The Image Of Fat People
Fat individuals involved in body positivism are fighting not just to show the beauty in non-traditionally accepted body types, but to eradicate the social stigma surrounding fatness in general. As magazines and brands continue to utilize plus size models and represent all different kinds of fat women, the idea of "fat" as a negative is slowly but surely being washed away.
6. The Creation Of New Brands
Not only have many brands started producing plus size ranges, but new brands have emerged specifically by and for plus size women. The rise in the need for these stores, as well as the increasingly diverse ranges they stock, is definitely a thing to celebrate.
7. Promoting Total Body Diversity
Not only are plus size models being used and appreciated more and more, but the different types of bodies that come with being plus size (and straight size) are being acknowledged more often as well. Although there are plenty of women in the world with measurements similar to Ashley Graham's, there are also a lot of women with Tess Holliday's shape. And all of these kinds of fat women deserve to be represented.
8. The Pop Culture Representation
I started seeing the diversification of fashion before I started seeing the diversification of pop culture, so I'm willing to bet it's all intertwined. In the sartorial world, for instance, Ashley Nell Tipton's win on Project Runway has been a huge step forward for plus size representation and style. But in other parts of the media, plus size women are equally helping to diversify the imagery we take in. Gabourey Sidibe's recent sex scene in Empire is definitely helping give visibility to and lessen the taboo surrounding plus size sexuality.
9. Facilitating The Rise Of Independent Businesses
With what feels like a growing market that is demanding more from plus size designers and brands, independent labels have been able to make a killing in the plus size industry and luckily, these brands are often fronted and owned by badass plus size business women. Obviously, many of those benefiting from the rise in fatshion are the fat people that have previously felt marginalized.
It's easy to forget that body positivity isn't just about fat positivity, but rather a movement for and about everybody. While the changes for fat representation in the fashion industry do clearly benefit fat people, I'm willing to bet they also help many others in many ways. Progress is important in any form that it comes in, and I'm thankful for the huge steps that plus size fashion has made this year thanks to glorious individuals unafraid of taking a stand against beauty standards.