For decades, the same type women have wandered around the catwalks of the whole world: very tall, very thin, and very young. The same situation was in advertising and fashion magazines ‒ for decades girls with height from 180 cm and size XXS have dominated there.
Advertising photos were not only photoshopped by photo editors until supposing “perfection”, but in fact ‒ to complete “unreality”. Even before total editing, which did not leave anything alive on its way, women, who are few in real life, were chosen for these photos. If you had ever seen a model near, you might have noticed that she is at least a head taller than most women around and many men too.
For years, clothing manufacturers have convinced us that clothes cannot be sold in another way. Allegedly, they tried to shoot models of other sizes in advertising, with other figures ‒ and this did not work out. People did not respond to such advertising; women did not want to buy clothes if it was advertised by “unsightly” models.
There is some truth in this. This stereotype was imposed on us for so long that good is equal to thin, that beauty and style were in size, we almost believed it. We only liked the advertisement in which the models were “pleasure for the eye”, that is, they were thin.
But behind the advertising, we buy not just dresses and skirts. We buy a certain image, style. Buying a dress, we hope to look somewhat like those girls in the photo. And here’s the trap!
The photo on the left is from a show of a famous Italian designer. And on the right is the actress Monica Bellucci in the same outfit. Frankly speaking, Monica Bellucci is also not an ordinary woman. But even on her, the difference between the catwalk and real life is perfectly visible. Monica has other proportions of the body, in addition, she is older than the model for about thirty years. And because of that, the same outfit fits her diffirently. Not worse. But differently.
And now, let’s imagine an ordinary woman “from the street” in the place of Monica Bellucci, who does not look so amazing, and does not have such a transcendental charisma. She sees a fashionable image on advertising, finds the same things of her own size, or similar in the store, tries on and… No miracle happens. She does not look like in the advertising.
Recently, I’ve had an interesting conversation with the hostess of the domestic brand of women’s clothing. She told how they were trying to expand the line, sew large sizes. And how these things actually sell worse. Because often big ladies will go to the store, try on several dresses, and none of those “does not fit”. None fits the way she needs, she does not like any. In fact, she does not like the dress as well as her own reflection in the mirror. She would prefer to see there another woman, at least something similar to those on advertising. Because only such women seem beautiful and stylish to her.
If she had found somewhere a dress that would make her look like models on the runways, that would be the success! But the bitter truth is that no dress can make the 40th size from the 50th and add 20 cm of height. An ordinary woman will not look like a model in any dress. And they have no other standard of beauty.
And so a lot of women just lose interest in new clothes and fashion in general. They get used to the idea that fashion is not for them, they cannot dress stylishly, so there is no need to waste time and money.
All the same, nothing will look beautiful on them, so they go around for years in the same clothes, occasionally buying the same boring basic jeans and sweaters for worn out ones instead. And these are millions of women all over the world, and they are not even necessarily of large size, but simply average, not model. Can you imagine what a huge market it is?
Millions of women for years remain lost for the fashion industry because they considered themselves not good enough, not slim enough or not young enough to dress up fashionably. Billions of dollars of possible income are lost. Until some brands have not understood that it is time to break stereotypes. And they began to bring to the catwalks various women of different ages, sizes, and body proportions.
Ten years ago, such a model as Ashley Graham could appear only in specialized catalogues of large sizes. It was impossible to imagine a woman of such a figure on the pages of the leading fashion publication. But last year, Ashley Graham entered the top ten highest paid models in the world. She is one of the main stars on the shows of luxury brands, and apparently, there is no longer a reputable fashion magazine in which she had not yet on the cover.
In addition to Ashley Graham, there are still dozens of successful plus-size models, as well as the whole agencies of elderly models. Fashion brands are willing to shoot them in advertising. And the aforementioned Monica Bellucci, 54 years old, walks on the runways and poses for magazines.
One would assume that all this is due to the fact that the world is becoming more tolerant and democratic, society is increasingly allowing people to be different. And this is true, but, above all, it’s just a business. Nothing personal. Smart people realized that a lot of women would come to the stores for a fashionable outfit if they were shown in an advertisement someone, who looked like them. A woman of about their size, and not the one that they last wore in seventh grade. A woman of their age, and not the age of their younger daughters.
It is necessary to show the society other examples, different proportions, to accustom people to the fact that fashionable clothes can look good on women of different configurations. Then women will not have unrealizable expectations about how this clothing can fit them. And they will believe that fashion exists for them as well, and will not return fashionable dresses to hangers just because they do not make them six sizes thinner.
That is why models of different physique and different ages become so successful. And because of that fashion bloggers of large sizes have crazy popularity. Like, for example, Katie Sturino, the author of the @the12ishstyle blog on Instagram. She repeats the images of stars and models and clearly demonstrates that on a woman of the 52nd size, all this can look no worse. Differently, but not worse!
The more people will believe that women of any size worthy of a stylish outfit, fashionable images, and admiring looks, the more happy women will be in the world. And the more the fashion industry will benefit. Because, of course, the fate will not smile to everyone so as to marry a prince, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a wonderful, stylish blue coat, just in case.
Text by Maya Tulchynska, fashion blogger