How body positivity is finally going mainstream

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Finally, 2018 might be the year that fashion embraces its curves. The spotlight is still shining on traditional models such as the likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, but plus-size women are no longer being sidelined and are starting to gain their own place in the mainstream.

The women paving the way for diversity

The amount of plus-size models we’re seeing both on and off the runway has also increased, with the likes of Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine paving the way for undiscovered women. Online brands such as ASOS are making it part of their corporate responsibility not to adjust photographs of models to change their appearance. They also serve a wide customer base, offering clothing in over 30 different sizes. Other online stockists, such as Ashleigh Plus Size, bring together online retailers that aren’t afraid to shout about their curvy range.

Model Bethany Rutter teamed up with a plus-size clothing range to fight for curvy representation, creating a parody of Protein World’s controversial 2015 campaign. The original ads featured slim model Renee Somerfield and asked passersby – “Are you beach body ready?” Some critics labelled it sexist, while others said that it promoted unhealthy beauty standards that would influence many women. Rutter’s parody features herself and two other plus-size women next to the slogan “We’re beach body ready”, spreading a representative message about body positivity.

Outside of the fashion industry, Eurovision 2018 was won by self-proclaimed ‘fat’ woman, Netta Barzilai, who proclaimed her song ‘Toy’ was all about body-positivity. “It’s for everybody who’s been struggling being themselves,” she told BBC News, “They’re told they’re not good enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough, don’t sing big enough.” After hearing her empowering lyrics, many took to social media to praise her as a body-positive icon.

Inclusivity is the new black

The fashion industry may have been slow to learn its lesson, but its finally bringing inclusivity into the mainstream. The overwhelming demand from women is exactly the kind of disruption the industry needed to respond in a proactive way, and it’s no secret that social media has helped to fuel this discussion toward acceptance.

Of course, things aren’t still perfect. Only recently, one of the UK’s most popular high street retailers was accused of charging plus-size women more for the same clothing. Similarly, staff in Victoria’s Secret stores across the US were accused of discrimination toward plus-size customers.

While revenue in plus-size fashion increased 14% between the years 2013 and 2016, some labels are still holding back when it comes to advertising their plus-size range. The assumption that plus-size women don’t want to spend money on fashion is one that is harming the industry, but many are hopeful that this diversity will soon become more of a priority within the industry, allowing women to embrace body positivity with open arms.

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