Oftentimes you'll hear women say that they want to see more images that they feel represent them in advertising and media. For the fashion designer and owner behind the SmartGlamour's 2015 Winter/Holiday Collection Mallorie Dunn, it's quite the opposite. But not for the reasons you might think.
"I am a thin white woman and I am tired of seeing thin white women in every fashion and beauty ad I see," Dunn wrote on the SmartGlamour website. "I'm tired of being the only kind of representation for every product image and every lookbook."
Dunn isn't just talking the talk, either. Her inclusive, body positive clothing line is available from sizes XXS to 6X and beyond. Her clothing is a fashionable, affordable, fully customizable alternative to fast fashion options that often leave certain demographics behind, particularly those in the plus size market. Despite the fact that she's not plus size herself, Dunn is keenly aware of the fact that her own demographic is frequently catered to and given the spotlight, and she feels it's time to give a platform to others.
"It's not my place to speak for other people, as I am not them," Dunn wrote. "But if the over-represented is tired of it, I can only imagine how exhausted the under-represented must be. I actually cannot grasp what it's like to look around and see zero accurate representation of yourself. I can try. But I will never truly understand."
Dunn's position in the fashion industry is particularly unique, because she doesn't just produce clothing. Similar to other activist/designer hybrids such as Alysse Dalessandro of Ready To Stare, SmartGlamour is as much about the message as it is about the clothes.
For example, in the same SmartGlamour blog post, Dunn gave her followers and customers an excellent explanation of thin privilege, and why she wants to fight against it.
Mallorie Dunn, founder and designer of SmartGlamour.
"It's sometimes stated that since privileges are not earned, thinness cannot be one," she wrote. "This is false. I do not work to be thin — not even a little. I am genetically thin. I avoid the gym and eat ice cream and wine most nights. But no one's harassing me online for 'health concerns.'"
It's this mentality that inspired Dunn to cast primarily plus size models in her shoots. After all, why shouldn't plus size women have the right to be fairly represented in the fashion they consume?
"I show accurate representations of women because I enjoy reality," Dunn wrote. "I show accurate representations of women because I am curious — and I enjoy learning about anything and everything. I show accurate representations of women because I love celebrating our differences. I show accurate representations of women because I want to prove to every company that can't seem to do it — who says it's too difficult, who avoids the question, or who answers it with a PC, PR non-answer — that it is not hard. That I am one person, and I manage to do it."
Dunn and SmartGlamour certainly do bring up a lot of unanswered questions about why bigger brands don't cater to more sizes, or why they don't cast diverse bodies in their advertising campaigns. If small, independent labels are doing it with limited resources, than the fact that larger brands don't simply doesn't add up. It's hard to know if we'll ever see these kind of changes in the industry as a whole, but for now, consumers can support designers like Dunn — the type who supports her customers right back.
"I will not speak on behalf of anyone — especially not marginalized groups of which I am not a part," Dunn concludes. "But what I will do is make room for them. More room than for those who look like me. The majority of American women are a size 14 and above — so the majority of my models are too."
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Images: Courtesy SmartGlamour