Originally Posted by kirsten
"[Designers] want you to believe that you are not beautiful enough or young enough or thin enough, and they do that by draping cadaverous 16-year-olds across double-page spreads so you will feel so wretched that you will have to buy their products to make yourself feel better."
It's wonderful to have a former editor such as Ms. Jones contribute her thoughts on this matter, and to upbraid the fashion industry for its thin-supremacist mindset. However, her statement--which is representative of a great deal of fashion-industry criticism--is misguided and misleading. It implies that the prime concern of designers is (1) to sell their wares, and (2) to do so by making women feel dissatisfied with their non-cadaverous figures, so that they purchase apparel in order to alter their self-image.
The truth is somewhat different.
1. The primary goal of designers is to create what they
regard as satisfying designs--satisfying to themselves, that is. For most of the 20th century, these designs were androgynous and ugly, whereas more recently, the New Femininity has ushered in a wave of fashions that are sometimes quite attractive. But the point is that for the designers, the designs come first. The customer is secondary.
2. Ms. Jones's statement implies that designers have women with non-cadaverous figures in mind at all. They don't. Their focus is exclusively on women who do
have cadaverous figures. The industry is not designed to make the non-cadaverous feel bad about themselves. (That is only incidental.) It is designed to make the cadaverous feel good
The distinction is crucial. The high-street fashion industry works by making underweight women think that they are beautiful--and that they can be even more
beautiful wearing the designs' clothing. And this is not surprising. Ultimately, telling potential customers, "You're hot,"
is a much better selling strategy than telling them, "You're ugly."
Therefore, what the plus-size fashion industry needs to do is to direct the same message at its own customers that the androgyny-oriented, cadaver-worshipping designers direct at theirs. It needs to create magazines, ad campaigns, TV promotions, etc., all showcasing appealing, feminine, curve-enhancing clothing on models who are genuinely full-figured, and
ideally gorgeous. It needs to create a fantasy that is just as compelling and irresistible to curvy women as the straight-size industry fantasy is to underweight women.
The solution to the dilemma that Ms. Jones inaccurately describes is to revise her statement as follows, and for the plus-size industry to adopt this as its mantra:
"[Plus-size designers] want you to believe that you are beautiful enough, and shapely enough, and they do that by draping size-16 models across double-page spreads so you will feel so elated that you will want to buy their products, and make yourself feel even better."
We aren't there yet--but hopefully, we soon will be.
Sensual yet chic new test image of Barbara Brickner--with deep decolletage, a voluptuously free hairstyle, and a figure-embracing top, this is a shining example of "Mode meets the New Femininity":