Ever since its inception, the fashion industry has gotten a bad rap for being exclusive and for presenting an unrealistic beauty ideal, often created by eliminating the flaws in models through Photoshop.
In recent years the industry has started to explore the notion of body diversity by including more women and men of different shapes and sizes and by making way for a powerful new group of women in fashion: the “Plus Size” models. Among these models you may recognize big names such as Ashley Graham and Kate Upton, both considered “Plus Size” supermodels by the industry.
You may find it disturbing (like I did) to discover that Ashley Graham and Kate Upton wear US sizes 14 and 6 respectively. How can these women be two of the most well-know models within the “Plus Size” market when they are smaller than the average American woman, who wears a US size 16 (according to a recent study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education)? Women sizes 16 and up are still highly underrepresented in the fashion industry, and for the industry to truly meet its claim of inclusivity, this phenomenon has to change ASAP.
Her Track caught up with Yasmine Arrington, a TRUE Model Management Curve Model and proud US size 20, to hear what it’s like to fight for a stable career in an industry that still favors very slim figures. Yasmine’s passion for modeling stems from her love for fashion: “I’ve got clothes galore,” she tells Her Track in a phone interview.
“If a woman who’s a model is above a size 16 it’s less likely that she’s going to get any work,” she says.
Yasmine largely attributes her childhood insecurities to the unrealistic beauty standards set by the fashion industry at that time: “I was only seeing women with a smaller frame in the media. In my mind this translated to ‘Ok, this is what is beautiful, this is the standard of beauty, this is the expectation,’” she tells Her Track.
It wasn’t until Yasmine started seeing more women who looked like her being represented in fashion that she realized she didn’t need to slim down or cover up to be beautiful:
“I don’t have to wear big, baggy clothes, I can live my life and I can be fashionable-my body is just different.”
To this day, Yasmine still gets told that she should “lose weight” and “watch her diet” in order to be a “more successful model” by people within the fashion industry; a sign that the industry has a long way to go before it can truly claim to be inclusive and body positive.
Here’s to hoping that the industry will learn to drop the size stigma and embrace more models like Yasmine who are fully confident and proud of their curvy bodies (as they should be) and who can truly act as role models for younger girls struggling with insecurities about their own bodies. If you only take away one message from this article, my hope is that it is similar to this quote on body positivity by Yasmine: