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.

However, Yasmine’s love for the fashion industry and its unrealistic standards is not quite as strong: “What I really, really am disappointed with is that the industry and clothing companies are still very biased,” she says. According to Yasmine, even in the “Plus Size” category, models of smaller sizes and with more “toned” bodies are still favored:

“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.

The fashion industry’s discrimination against larger body types can be detrimental for the mental and physical wellbeing of young girls who base their idea of beauty on what (and who) they see in magazines and on TV.According to a recent study conducted by Common Sense Media, 54% of tweens and 77% of teens spend two hours or more a day consuming screen media (which includes online magazines that use models for ads and promotions). Therefore, the fashion industry has a major impact on molding the perception of beauty in young kids. Although you would never guess it by the confidence that Yasmine exudes at this point in her life, there was a time when she too struggled with body image issues and an eating disorder.

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:

“You can be anything you want to be, because you are beautiful in your own creation.”

If you believe in yourself, nobody can stop you!

For more articles on self image and body love, check out the articles below!

10 Body Positive Activists You Need to Follow on Instagram ASAP

Why We Need to Shift the Focus from ‘Skinny’ to ‘Healthy’

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