It's no secret that in the modeling industry, being 5'11" and a size 2 is essential for success. No matter how trends change, or what new designers emerge, mainstream fashion repeatedly favors the tall and slender. This year's New York Fashion Week was, for the most part, no different. And the models who walked the runways did rock it — but it's hard for models to stand out when all body types look the same.
This year, I steered clear of actually hitting New York and London Fashion Weeks, and opted instead for British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend. For the second year in a row, BPSFW has served to celebrate the fuller-figure and enable women to feel proud and confident in all sizes. Heading into the main fashion show, I expected to be presented with women who were sizes 10-14 (like straight-size modeling, plus modeling is still very limited in their range of sizes represented), but the ladies who walked the runway were so much more diverse.
The diversity of the models on the runway of BPSFW was groundbreaking (I mean, this NYFW has actually been referred to as "depressingly white"). It wasn't just that the models were of mixed ethnicities and races, but also varied in sizes, ranging from a 10 to a 22. Considering most plus-size agencies and brands still feature predominantly thin-but-big-boned ladies, this was impressive.
Whether on the lower end of the size spectrum at a 10, or on the fuller-figured end in the 20s, these models embraced beauty at every size. The show culminated with a heartwarming demonstration of beauty in every body, as all the models came onto the stage in lingerie or swimwear. Unsigned models were just as confident as professional models like Whitney Thompson, Felicity Hayward, and Hayley Hasselhoff. Big or small, voluptuous or angular, every kind of woman had her place in this show.
If this kind of diversity were seen in NYFW, or in any kind of widely broadcasted fashion event, it would be shocking. I still have trouble imagining a day when a woman over a size 8 steps onto the runway of Christian Dior. Mainstream modeling — and that includes plus modeling along with straight — does not have realistic expectations of beauty nor eclecticism. The diversity of the BPSFW runways should be lauded, but it'll unfortunately get lost because the event is under the radar; not only is it a relatively new happening, but it's a show for "bigger" women, which, let's be honest, isn't celebrated in fashion.
But being there, seeing models who were 6'1" and size 10 paired up with women who were 5'7" and size 20, was a beautiful moment — one that deserves to be recorded and recognized for its progressiveness.