This year, it seems like body shaming is something that cannot be escaped; it has come from every source imaginable, even presidential debates. At the same time, however, the fashion industry has been taking steps to combat all of this negativity by creating countless body positive campaigns. From JCPenney’s #HereIAm to Lane Bryant’s empowering campaigns, brands are slowly trying to change the way they look at women’s’ bodies. Even Fashion Week has seen a change this year, with a number of brands introducing a more diverse line-up of women.
Designer Christian Siriano seems to have led the charge, though not necessarily intentionally, with this by including a number of plus size models in his New York Fashion Week line-up. He is well-known for making designs for all body types and even designed actress Leslie Jones a custom dress when no other designer would work with her. Recently, he has even partnered with Lane Bryant, citing a need to celebrate all body types, rather than shaming them.
But, he was not the only designer and brand to take a different approach to the runway this year. Some of the models were transgender, while more still were over the age of 50. J.Crew and Tracy Reese went so far as to ask ordinary people to come model their lines to promote the importance of being body positive. It made for an incredible and eye-opening experience for designers and Fashion Week attendees alike, showing the fashion world that change is possible and necessary.
While there have always been complaints about the lack of diversity on the runway, 2016 is the first year steps are actively being taken to deal with this problem. In fact, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) became involved last month, when they released a new set of guidelines for designers to follow. In the letter that they sent, they made a point to mention that modeling agencies had a responsibility to scout models from diverse backgrounds. Specifically, the mentioned a need to make models of color the norm, rather than just an exception.
These guidelines may not mention a need for more plus size models, but it is still another step in the right direction. Brands like ModCloth and Aerie have made huge strides in creating a more body positive image with their brands, by dropping the “plus-size” term and featuring real, unedited photos of their models, respectively. Changes like this may seem small, but by encouraging people to leave behind labels and to love themselves, these brands are sending a powerful message of self-empowerment.
There is still a long way to go in terms of overall diversity within the fashion industry. But, if New York’s Fashion Week is anything to go by, hopefully, more brands and designers will begin creating a more diverse line-up of models. In doing so, they will be helping to create a more body positive society that welcomes everyone, regardless of their size, gender identity, age, and skin color.