It comes as no surprise that I’m not won over by American Apparel or Dov Charney’s antics. I can’t respect a man who is quite clearly, well, a bit of a prick. Focusing on the company, however, one of American Apparel’s more distasteful policies is their long-held refusal to make plus-size products or to market to over size 10s at all. At present, a ‘large’ fits a small size 12. Their reasoning? Plus-sized women “aren’t their demographic.”
In a backhanded attempt at an olive branch (or perhaps their repositioning amid new fears they’ll be bankrupt very soon), American Apparel launched an online competition to find a plus size model to be the face and body of their new XL line. The XL line that would be for sizes 14 to 16, the average size of a woman in the UK.
In the earliest hours of September 17, while the customer service representatives for Evans, the UK plus-size fashion retailer, slumbered in their beds, an international fatshion (fat fashion) frenzy was brewing on Twitter. Plus-sized shoppers in the US and below the equator in Australia and New Zealand refreshed product pages and traded 140-character thoughts on the highly anticipated Beth Ditto collection.
In 2009, Beth Ditto, equally famous as lead singer of the Gossip and for her eclectic style choices and bold personality, worked with Evans to release a collection reflecting in-the-moment trends. The collection struck a nerve with its iconic pieces – and quickly disappeared from stock rooms. When word of Ditto’s second collection hit the internet, fatshionistas from all over the world were poised, credit card numbers at their finger tips, and ready to buy.
“It felt like the right time to do it, and right for us, really,” says Jules Barton-Breck, editor of Essentials. The October issue of her magazine, already on sale, is claimed to be a UK first – a glossy that’s entirely model- and celebrity-free.
Despite the fanfare, rejecting models and celebrities in favour of “realness” is nothing new. Dove launched its Campaign For Real Beauty in 2004, using “real” women in its ads, and tying them in to a global awareness-raising project of promoting female body-acceptance. Debenhams now bans airbrushing in its swimwear ad campaigns, claiming the aim is “to help customers make the most of their beauty without bombarding them with unattainable body images”.
Liz Jones was obviously having a self-involved day when she decided the best forum for her latest rant was in national newspaper Daily Mail.
Jones tenderly handled the subject of childhood anorexia, respected varying female shapes and did nothing to promote the notion that fashion is only for the thin…I am, of course, being sarcastic. It seems that every time fashion takes a step forward, there’s a moaning female journalist dragging the industry back two steps.
Get over it. Designers like catwalk models to be thin – and of a certain height – because they’re supposed to be identical walking clothes hangers, not “personalities”. This doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to be, or is expected to be, size zero.
Writing about larger-breasted women, Jones announces, “I look at those who expose their sweaty cleavages and think, hmm, how slutty, I bet they use them to get ahead at work.” Maybe, Jones, these women have better things to think about then their boobs and get promoted at work because they are – shock, horror – genuinely intelligent. I’m also thinking that perhaps this is how Jones used her larger breasts before she got a reduction, it would certainly explain how she became editor of Marie Claire –which, by the way, she was reportedly sacked from because she referred to a model as “a bag of bones”. Although that’s probably untrue, it works nicely for my rant. Image-obsessed this woman is.
Jones’ irresponsible bashing of larger-breasted women continues as she says, “I comfort myself with the knowledge these big-busted broads will never look good in Prada or Jil Sander or Helmut Lang.” I hate to break this to you so bluntly, Jones, but women with breasts and, indeed, larger women can be stylish too; Gabi Gregg, author of the Young, Fat and Fabulous blog, obviously thinks so. As do all of these women. It’s, admittedly, a slow process but there is a growing acceptance of larger sizes (proof, proof, proof) but then shite like this get’s published and some people feel insecure all over again.
So, in response to your article, I don’t care. I don’t care if you have scars on your nipples, I don’t care if flat chests are in, I don’t care if Pamela Anderson has had a popularity resurgence and people now want to look like this. Stop bitching and obsessing about your fucking breasts and actually write something half-intelligent.
As a side note: Jones article wavered over her blatant psychological problems, claiming her anorexia was because she “wanted to be thin, like Janice Dickinson on the cover of Vogue.” While this may have been what later drove her anorexia she stated, “I wanted boys not to notice me”; suggesting one of the real causes of her anorexia was her unwillingness to grow-up and her fear of entering adulthood. If you do have anorexia please seek help or, and this has to be motivation enough, you’ll end up like this whiney journalist who once said, “It makes no sense, but I’d rather be thin than happy or healthy.”
US website OneStopPlus.com, a web-mall for plus-size women, will produce the first ever plus-size only runway show during New York Fashion Week on 15 September.
To be staged at The Atrium in Frederick P Rose Hall at the Lincoln Centre, famed curvy models, such as Lizzie Miller, Tocarra Jones and Emme, will walk the runway in the brands Spring 2011 collection.
Stephanie Sobel, President of OneStopPlus.com said, “The recent confluence of events and energy within the plus-size movement makes this the perfect time for OneStopPlus.com to debut at New York Fashion Week. Top plus-size models like Crystal Renn and Lizzie Miller in Italian Vogue, French Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire, and others, validate that this is the magic moment for plus sizes.”
OneStopPlus.com is a pioneer in the ever-changing fashion industry, proving that the 62%of American women who are plus-size can also experience the high-fashion lifestyle.
Zahir Babvani, VP of Design of OneStopPlus.com says, “This show is a collaborative effort to provide the extraordinary community of plus-size American women with the uncompromising style that they have always deserved but never received. It’s about inclusion and fashion democracy: fashion risk-taking and empowerment. No more seeing what you can’t have; this is a fashion party that invites and inspires everyone.”
Marc Jacobs, one of the world’s most successful design labels, is set to become the first major fashion houses to produce a clothing line catering for women bigger than size 14.
Although there is yet to be an official announcement, Robert Duffy, president of the Marc Jacobs label, wrote about the move on Twitter, confirming that the company was in the early stages of discussions to produce a plus-size range. He said that it would be a year before the line was available.
“We are in talks now. For plus sizes,” Duffy tweeted. “Listen, we are in the very beginning stages of talking to a partner about plus sizes.” He also revealed the problems he has buying clothes. “I’m a big guy 6ft 4in, 210 lbs. [It’s] not easy for me to find clothes,” he wrote. “Of course I can have them made. I know how everyone feels. I try to diet but… I don’t like the phrase plus-sizes. Any suggestions?
“Lily Cole, who looks like a boiled egg on a stick… is highly intelligent, but let’s be honest, she’s not exactly normal-looking. She looks a bit like a Thunderbirds puppet, huge eyes, a big head and a tiny body.”
How rude. I wonder if she would say this to any “normal”, thin woman or if this kind of witty attack is reserved only for models?
“Surrounded by airbrushed images of females we can never emulate, we desperately need some new role models. Forget bloody Lily Cole – how about Vanessa Feltz, who should consider putting herself forward to Brigitte for a spot of modelling.
Sometimes I worry about looking like a badly packed sausage when I venture out to parties – does my midriff bulge show and is my jacket managing to hide a multitude of sins? I’ve seen enough pictures of myself looking like Mrs Chubby Drawers to hold my stomach in every time I see a camera.
But Vanessa is a very different high-profile woman. She was photographed in a skin-tight pale pink beaded frock last week, smiling happily and weighing in at quite a few sizes bigger than the size 12 she dieted and exercised to back in 1999.
Vanessa looks great – more importantly, her expression says she couldn’t give a stuff what anyone thinks anyway! Go girl!”
But yes, she’s absolutely right. Why would anyone admire Lily Cole; a beautiful, intelligent, Cambridge-educated, talented model and actress when they could admire Vanessa Feltz: an obese (which is just as unhealthy as anorexia), brash, tacky, frankly insane (let us not forget her Big Brother moment), unintelligent (I’m sure she is smart, being also Cambridge taught, but based on interviews and written work she clearly wants us to assume otherwise) woman?
Janet Street Porter clearly wanting to get in on the sizing debate…and failing miserably.
There has been a lot of criticism recently for the use of editing fashion photography and giving women unattainable figures, especially in retouching photos of celebrities to make them look thinner. In the last few days another sizing debate has sprung up but this time, rightly so. Ralph Lauren have been criticised for digitally retouching size 8 model, Filippa Hamilton, to such a dramatic distortion that her head was wider then her waist.
Ralph Lauren quickly apologised yesterday for the botched photograph. A spokesman for Ralph Lauren said: “For over 42 years, we have built a brand based on quality and integrity.
After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body.
We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the calibre of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”
Yesterday the eating disorders charity Beat welcomed the company’s apology but warned fashion firms to use their power responsibly:
“We are obviously very glad Ralph Lauren have realised that digitally enhancing people like this can cause a lot of upset,’ a spokeswoman said.
“They have a very powerful influence that can be highly toxic to young and vulnerable people. Fashion can be creative and uplifting but the fashion houses must realise the impact they can have on people suffering from all sorts of issues in their lives.”
Another day means another debate about the use of “real women” against thin women in the fashion industry. This ongoing dispute is long and complicated; it’s not the fashion industries intention to promote an unhealthy lifestyle or eating disorders, thin models are used because they are there to sell the clothes (or whatever the product is). Longer, thinner limbs photograph better, and sticklike figures means the designer can concentrate on his creation and artwork rather than making the clothes look flattering on that woman.
Alexander McQueen has said that if he could have hangers floating down the runway he wouldn’t use models again. The point is that “real women” aren’t supposed to look like models. Models don’t even look like models; there’s so much re-touching and make-up application, they’re just like any other “normal” thin girl you know.
On the other side, having these extremely thin women dressed glamorously in advertisements, and appearing to have it all, is going to be aspirational to some. Seeing this same message used constantly will lead women to think that if they are thin then they’ll be happy.