Body Positivity in the Fashion Industry - Novelty or Real Positive Change?
Updated: Jul 18
There is no doubt that body positivity in the fashion industry has improved in the last few years, in fact body positivity did not use to be a term thrown about in fashion. Not only is there more consideration of different sizes in shops but there is more representation in shows and marketing campaigns. While this is definitely a positive change, will it last? Many brands, especially high fashion brands do not do anything to try to be body positive; highstreet brands and smaller, newer brands actually lead the way. Karl Lagerfeld famously said in 2009:
“No one wants to see curvy women.”
As high fashion brands are the most impactful on the fashion industry as a whole, if they do not change will body positivity be a permanent change to the fashion industry?
At the end of the day, fashion brands are businesses which means that they will only enact change if they think it will improve sales. This means that with every piece of body positivity you see will have an ulterior motive. This does make you wonder if all of the great change that has been made in the fashion industry is just a marketing ploy? Are brands pretending to be woke to improve sales? Well they could be, but the influence they are having is positive. Even if it is only a facade to begin with, hopefully it will create real change.
If there is one brand that truly shows real body positivity which isn’t a marketing ploy it is Rihanna’s Fenty brands, from the range of shades in the makeup to the body positivity in the shows it shows true equality. This could be because from the brand’s launch it has focussed on body positivity as opposed to many other brands which include it as an afterthought in a marketing campaign. Not only does Rihanna show true diversity in terms of different ethnicities and body types but she also includes differently-abled and trans models in the shows. This was and is groundbreaking and shows how poor many of the other brands are in comparison.
Although many brands are moving in the right direction with their body positivity, most are still behind. Forget body positivity for plus size people, many brands still photoshop models to the point that they no longer look human. This creates unrealistic imagery for people who look at these images. This still happens today and combined with the rise of social media means that more and more teenagers are developing eating disorders than ever before. Can body positivity really make a big change while models and people with stereotypically perfect bodies are still photoshopped? While some brands have started to show cellulite and stretch marks on their models, is it really enough? With rising eating disorders being directly correlated with the rise of social media should influential fashion brands be doing more to help?
Overall, the fashion industry is taking the right steps but the problem extends so much further than the fashion industry. With social media playing a huge part in the problem there needs to be a cultural reset if we want to see true body inclusivity. At the moment the slow change seems to be enough to please people who complain about it but there is a long way to go. Will designers ever make separate designs for slightly larger people which are more flattering? We are not sure… it certainly won’t happen for a long time.
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