As any teacher trying to get a whole class to cram for a final in the same way will probably tell you, everyone learns differently; but one of the most popular ways of getting new information as adults is arguably the documentary. From plus size fashion documentaries to conspiracy Netflix series, documentaries can educate us on subjects we thought we knew lots about, as well as those we had virtually no knowledge about before. Although documentaries may sometimes be biased to the view of the director, they're still a great source for learning about a new subject and, often, an underrepresented topic in our society.
When examining subjects such as being plus size, or even plus size fashion, it's easy to stumble across scaremongering pieces about the alleged problems of our weight. Very rarely do we focus on the positives of being fat; very rarely do we even focus on the neutrals. But examining the positives and negatives of living in a body that is anything other than a size zero to four can be eye-opening to the plus size consumer, as well as everybody else.
Plus size people are undoubtedly underrepresented in fashion, and in almost every way in mainstream media, but the following documentaries help bring to light not only the importance of fat fashion, but the question of why it is we as fats are so sorely underrepresented in the first place.
1. The Sixty-Six Percent
The latest documentary to throw its hat into the plus size fashion documentary ring is The Sixty-Six Percent, a film and ongoing project by director Natalie Abruzzo. This documentary follows the creator and participants of New York's Full Figured Fashion Week in an attempt not only to represent the women left out of other fashion weeks across the globe, but to explore why plus size people aren't represented in these fashion weeks, too. As the title so clearly states, 66 percent of women in America are "overweight," yet 66 percent are never given the limelight.
2. A Perfect 14
A Perfect 14 follows the lives of three plus size models — Elly Mayday, Laura Wells, and Kerosene Deluxe — and their struggle to make it in the world of style. Instead of succumbing to the fat-phobia present in society and fashion at large, models like these are leading the way in promoting and modernizing the curve and plus size fashion industry. That's not to say that this documentary is all sweetness and light: The negatives of segregating plus size fashion from straight size fashion are closely examined for their societal and personal impact on plus size people.
Straight/Curve is doing exactly what it says on the tin: Exploring the differences between being straight size and being plus size. From general issues of body image to the fashion industry, this documentary is covering all its bases in making sure we understand what it means to be fat in our society right now. The film is supported by a number of big names, including New York University, the National Eating Disorder Association, and brands like Lane Bryant and Aerie. Although this film won't be released until early 2017, it's one to keep your eye on as it's sure to be an all-inclusive look at plus size fashion.
4. Plus Sized Wars
Released in 2015, Plus Sized Wars is an in-depth look at the changing market of plus size fashion in the UK. Watching this documentary on Channel 4 taught me a lot about the industry itself, as well as the people changing it. The film focuses on the impact of plus size blogging, as well as the rise in fame of plus size supermodel Tess Holliday. This doc is a bit more upbeat than the rest, predominently celebrating the progress made in plus size fashion and the growing body positive movement here in Britain.
5. Celebrating Curves — Inside Pulp Fashion Week
This two-year-old French documentary is about so much more than "celebrating curves," so don't let the name fool you. It explores Pulp Fashion Week — the Parisian answer to the gap in plus size representation at fashion week. Featuring top plus size model Hayley Hasselhoff, the film shows us the need for body positivity and plus size fashion visibility worldwide and follows the journey of making Pulp Fashion Week happen.
By watching documentaries like these and learning the inner workings of the plus size fashion industry — from blogging to running brands; from fashion week to modeling — we can further understand the positives and negatives of being a plus size consumer in contemporary culture. These films not only inspire hope, but they inspire change, too.
Whether you're only on the edge of plus size fashion as a small fat or in need of more diversity and representation at a larger size, let these films be a reminder of how much the world has changed thus far, and how much further we have to go.
Image: A Perfect 14/Vimeo