|8th October 2011||#1|
Join Date: July 2005
Beyond High School
In a recent post on the topic of model size, we highlighted one of the two major reasons why the plus-size fashion industry suppresses genuinely full-figured models in favour of faux-plus girls: the fact that many of the professionals who helm the plus-size industry have a personal antipathy to the full-figured aesthetic and instead favour the starvation standard of the minus-size fashion establishment.
But why, then, do even those professionals who do appreciate curvy figures still discriminate against genuinely full-figured goddesses and favour faux-plus frauds?
This predicament is attributable, in large part, to a dynamic that many of us will find familiar from high school (or at least, familiar from American movies that are placed in high-school settings).
In the archetypal high-school environment, the school society is a hierarchical structure with a pack of so-called "cool kids" at the top of the pyramid. The students who comprise this alpha clique are invariably mean, arrogant, vacuous, and utterly contemptible. However, because this popular crowd has top-flight status and throws the parties that "everyone" wants to attend, the majority of students who are not a part of the alpha group long to be included in this clique. These envious wannabes turn a blind eye to the shallowness and cruelty of the popular crowd and even try to change themselves into whatever misbegotten form they think might gain them entry into this so-called "in" group.
Only a few--very few--true outsiders are perceptive enough to see the "cool" kids for the reprehensible scum that they are. These genuinely independent minds reject the alpha clique entirely. They would refuse to be a part of the popular group even if they were paid to join.
Alas, many of the professionals who run the plus-size fashion industry fall into this "wannabe" category vis-à-vis the Vogue establishment. They see straight-size fashion as the "cool" crowd and sell out their own industry to become a part of it. They disown the genuinely full-figured women who are their customer base, as if they were embarrassed of them--just as a former high-school outsider who gains marginal acceptance with the alpha clique suddenly has no time for her former friends (whom the popular types consider "losers") and is ashamed to associate with them, for fear that doing so will undermine her newly-minted quasi-popular status.
This reprehensible behaviour--the very definition of disloyalty and selling out--has only gotten worse, now that a few faux-plus models have been granted token inclusion at the periphery of the "high" fashion industry. Now more than ever, the plus-fashion elite dreads to be associated with genuinely full-figured women. They fear that such an association might undermine their oh-so-precious position at the farthest edge of the cool kids' cafeteria table, at the very margins of the straight-size fashion establishment.
"No, no, we're not like them," say certain plus-fashion professionals to the minus-size fashion establishment. "We're just like you--only a wee bit curvier. But those bigger models, those larger women, no, they're actually "over"weight. We have nothing in common with them. We won't contaminate our modelling boards with them. We won't pollute our campaigns with them. We won't have them on our runways. No, we're . . . cool. Like you. You can approve of us."
The hypocrisy is rank.
Consider how far the industry has fallen from its former greatness. The brilliance of a magazine like Mode, when it debuted, was that it exhibited all of the technical quality and polish of mainstream fashion magazines (i.e., quantifiable aesthetic factors that have nothing to do with size), but employed them to promote a visibly full-figured aesthetic (over a size 14).
Mode was like the sophisticated outsider in our high-school analogy: the principled iconoclast who sees the members of the alpha clique for the contemptible scum that they are, who recognizes their vacuousness, who recoils from their meanness, and who truly rejects them and everything they stand for.
Far from wanting to be a part of the minus-size fashion industry, plus-size fashion à la Mode once rejected that industry and all of its abuses. It rejected its promotion of eating disorders. It rejected its criminal drug use. It rejected its practice of deforming its models' bodies through barbaric surgeries. It rejected its ugly modernism and jejune shock-value stunts.
Instead, the plus-size industry once resolved to form a better, more positive, more wholesome fashion world on its own.
The goal of Mode wasn't to achieve the faux "triumph" of having a size-8 model stuck amid pages of androgynous anorexics. Rather, the goal of Mode was to create a superior world unto itself, a world of pure size celebration, where all of the diet-starvation and exercise-torture (to say nothing of the rampant narcotics abuse) of the degenerate minus-size industry was dispensed with, and in its place was instituted an idyllic world of timeless beauty, where visibly full-figured women could indulge themselves freely and live life to the fullest.
Instead of seeking the approval of anti-plus, curve-o-phobic fashion-magazine editors who have an antipathy to any model with a trace of shape, and who can only accept so-called "plus-size models" when those models are so skinny as to exhibit no fullness whatsoever, plus-fashion professionals should court the approval of the actual size-20+ women who buy full-figured clothing.
Both as a matter of principle (for the benefit of full-figured women in general), and as a practical matter (for its own financial success), the plus-size industry needs to individuate itself, to grow out of its high-school wannabe mentality vis-à-vis the straight-size fashion establishment.
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