The plus-size modeling industry has taken hold of runways, magazines covers, and social media platforms in the past few years and has begun to transform industry norms.
There are more and more companies using women in their campaigns that don’t fit the size 0-2 requirements and are actually considered average or overweight. We see models that have freckles scattered across their cheeks, hair under their arms, birth marks, or features that the media would typically deem ‘unflattering’ or ‘not beautiful’ taking hold of magazine covers and showing normal women that being a size 16 is absolutely okay.
The inclusion of plus-sized models reaches a hand out to the majority of women who don’t fit the industry norms of appearing ultra thin and free of excess weight. Designers are beginning to make clothes for the average American woman — the one who considers herself an apple bottom girl, has curves, breasts, or extra weight from living a normal lifestyle or having babies. It’s important to make women feel comfortable in their own bodies and share beautiful garments with average-sized women who can’t physically achieve or maintain a size XXS.
Plus-sized women shouldn’t think of themselves as a size. They should think of themselves as women with rich goals in life. Size doesn’t mean, really, anything. You can carry your size with pride and dress in a way that you like.Donatella Versace, Vice President and Artistic Director, Versace Group
As of 2016, the average American woman now falls between sizes 16 and 18 according to a study done by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education. Curvy women now have more options for wearing fashion forward clothing that actually fits their bodies and makes them feel confident. Companies like ASOS, Elvi, and ModCloth create fun, beautiful clothing for women that are looking for plus-size options.
Universal Standard is one brand that has begun changing industry norms about size and what is actually considered ‘normal’. They share, “We couldn’t shop together; one of us could hardly shop at all. It felt unfair, but moreover, it made no sense. If 67% of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above, why were their options so dismal? It was clear that all women weren’t given the same level of style, quality, or even respect.” (Universal Standard) Universal Standard was born with the high hopes of making fashion inclusive for women of all shapes and sizes. They have achieved their goal, changed the label, and created clothes for those women that never had fashionable, beautiful clothes to wear and feel great in in the past.
In their book, a size 6-8 is a XXS, 10-12 an XS, 14-16 Small, 18-20 Medium, 22-24 Large, 26-28 XL, and a 30-32 XXL. When compared to average sizing, a medium is typically considered an 8-10, with most size options maxing out at XL with a 16-18.
Their program, Fit Liberty, is created with the idea that your body changes and that’s okay. “When your size changes, we change with you. If a piece from our core collection no longer fits you within a year of purchase, due to size fluctuation, we’ll replace it with your new size – for free. No more shopping anxiety, no more delayed gratification. We’re making shopping fun again.” (Universal Standard)
With body positivity on the rise, this niche market that typically had very few options now has the opportunity to feel good in their own skin. Young girls that hit puberty and just don’t fit into a size XXS or XS dress anymore can look to plus-sized models and beauty bloggers for inspiration and approval. The fashion industry is finally beginning to say that it’s okay to not be a size 2. There has been a stress upon making average, normal women feel included in an industry that has notoriously isolated and dejected women that do not fit industry standards.
The cultural shift has spurred ‘fat activists’ and beauty bloggers across the world to speak out about how all women should have the opportunity to own a pair of jeans that they love to put on every morning.