When the news of plus models walking the runway during New York Fashion Week hit social media, it seemed like the internet exploded for a moment. Everyone had an opinion about it. Some good, some bad, and some right-on-point. The minute I read my friend Ivory’s Instagram status, underneath a photo of model Denise Bidot walking the Chromat runway, I couldn’t help but laugh and instantly agree with her.
“This is insane in the most amazing way. I’m sure most of y’all have seen this already and if you haven’t, you’re welcome. I didn’t watch the actual show, but I’m hoping her thighs jiggled as she walked, just to piss folks off.”
It’s no secret that plus-size models aren’t normally seen as Fashion Week material. Rarely do you see a model larger than a size 2 or 4 on any of these runways. So, when Denise and the other models hit the catwalk, it was a big deal. Let me rephrase that…it IS a big deal.
Moments like this mean something to women like me. Like that one time, when a then plus-sized Crystal Renn walked the runway at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s show, that was awesome! Then, in 2010, designers Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Mark Fast used curvier models on their runways. And apparently that pissed people off.
According to a 2010 Vogue article, popular blogger Garance Doré had this to say: “It should not be such a big deal to show women with different bodies, but sometimes it’s treated like a bit of joke, or for shock, like the plus-size models on the runway in the UK Fashion Week,” said Doré. “It’s not such a good thing to show plus-size because it’s not really physically healthy and not always flattering to fashion.”
That may have been four years ago, but diversity in the fashion industry still comes off like a bad word. For some reason, people fear change. As our world is evolving, I feel like the mindset of those who design the stylish clothes we wear should be changing too. Don’t get me wrong, some changes have been made, but none that reflect the world we live in today. And yes, even some in the plus-size fashion industry are guilty of this.
Years ago, I had a conversation with an executive of a major plus-size fashion brand about using models in sizes 16 and above. His response? In a nutshell, he told me that bigger models don’t sell the clothes. That women didn’t want to see clothing modeled on bigger women. I told him he was wrong. I told him that women want to see models who reflect their own bodies and shapes. His response is typical of the fashion industry. And if you’re wondering, he’s no longer with this major brand.
The bottom line is women of all sizes need to get dressed—every single day. We want clothing that not only looks good to us, but makes us feel confident and beautiful in our own way. We don’t need this industry telling us we’re not good enough.
So, why do plus-size models on the runway matter?
Because, the fashion industry needs it. Women need it. Our daughters need it. And don’t give me this crap about supporting obesity, that argument is played out and old. This is about diversity in so many ways. Regardless of the color of our skin, the shape of our bodies, how much we weigh, our age, or where we come from —I think fashion on the runway should reflect the world we live in and celebrate the women who make it go round.