Originally Posted by vargas
In order for this industry to change it would take both people at the top (like designers and editors of fashion magazines) and people at the bottom forcing the issue at every opportunity.
The fashion industry has a powerful establishment network, and those who try to do something different are ostracized or given the cold shoulder. Therefore, it seems, everyone must toe the line.
All too true. The article that Melanie recently linked
indicates just how deeply entrenched the current establishment is, and how impossible it will be to overthrow it.
Trying to crack the "fringe mainstream" of fashion (which is not a contradiction in terms, by the way, for the coterie that dominates the fashion world and considers itself the mainstream is actually, in its androgynous tastes and emaciated size preferences, very much of the fringe) is not only difficult for the full-figured industry, it is a highly questionable endeavour in the first place, and one that is fraught with peril.
The temptation will always be to compromise the ideals of timeless beauty in order to conform to the thin-supremacists' warped vision. Thus the thinking will be, "Maybe if we offer them size 12s instead of size 14s, they'll let them in. And if that doesn't work, we'll go down to size 10s. Or size 8s."
Pretty soon, what passes for a "plus-size model" is anything but, and the full-figured fashion industry ends up dominated by what are basically straight-size models, just under a different name. And women who actually buy plus-size clothing--i.e., the majority of women, who are size 16 or better--are left feeling more marginalized than ever.
But that is only the most obvious compromise that full-figure fashion makes when it comes cap-in-hand to the anorexia pushers for validation. There are other ways in which the plus-size industry undermines itself by seeking their approval. Instead of celebrating models with plump, round facial features and curves under the chin (which are natural and beautiful qualities for goddesses to possess), the industry will end up favouring models with harsh, hollowed-out faces--all in an attempt to conform to the skinny aesthetic. Instead of dressing larger models in the type of feminine outfits that best suit their curves, it will confine them in ugly modern garb--again, to try to win points with the fashionistas. Rather than giving curvaceous models pretty, feminine makeup, it will smear their faces with garish hues or "heroin chic" smudges, just like what the drugged-out individuals who dominate the grotesque "arty" magazines prefer. And far from photographing well-fed models in gorgeous natural locations that harmonize with their lush beauty, it will shoot them in ugly, urban environments.
In other words, by trying to fit in with the "cool" crowd (like an insecure high-school outcast), full-figured fashion ends up becoming just a second-rate copy of something that isn't worth emulating in the first place, mimicking an aesthetic that is alien to its very nature.
That's why it is such a pity that there are currently no plus-specific magazines in print. The best opportunities for the promotion of full-figured beauty have always presented themselves in venues and entities that are tailored especially for curvceous women. Unlike the faux-plus girls at the Mark Fast show, the models at Full-Figured Fashion Week were genuinely plus-size, possessed soft, round facial features (Kailee! Katherine Roll!), and were dressed in attractive, feminine garments. Magazines like Mode
didn't Photoshop their models into near-straight sizes; it showed them looking luscious and well-fed (Barbara Brickner! Kelsey Olson!).
For plus-size beauty to win public approval, it needs to be seen on its own terms, as something gorgeous and distinct; indeed, as more
beautiful than hard-angled modernism, not as an uneasy imitation of it.
It also needs to be seen in a position of dominance, in waif-free environments, not as a marginal, token additions to publications or runway show where emaciation is falsely depicted as the "norm."
Instead of trying to curry favour with the straight-size industry, which favours androgynous ugliness, full-figure fashion should concentrate on pleasing its own customer base--plus-size women, who yearn for beauty.
Four ethereal looks from Victorian doll Kailee O'Sullivan (5'8,size 14). Images from Hughes Models, London.
Kailee is based in New York, where she is signed with Click Models.