The following is an article that I wrote for a publication. I had to tweak it a bit (for them) but this is my original piece and one of the articles that I’m most proud of.
The fashion world has continuously dictated a certain decree with regards to the way the ideal woman should look and they have preferred these women to endorse their merchandise. Said ideal woman is a svelte individual with long limbs and is perfectly proportioned. This view is demonstrated in magazines, fashion shows as well as television. The popular fashion related movie “The Devil wears Prada” comes to mind, where lead actress Anne Hathaway is frowned upon for her size 6 body (South African size 10/34). Print media has always gotten flack for photo-shopping and distorting body images. Most fashion designers prefer leaner models over models with curves to showcase their work on ramps across the world. As much controversy that this ensues, it hasn’t stopped the fashion gurus from standing with this notion.
Curvier models and celebrities have never been shunned as such, but they have never been given the same opportunities as their leaner counterparts. There have been rebels over the years that have challenged this ideal by using women of all shapes in their campaigns, thus appealing to the masses. The last few years in particular have seen a rise in more a realistic representation of beauty. The concept of waif thin models and celebrities being role models for the perfect body has since simmered making way for a new era in fashion.
Women who have formerly been categorised as overweight are now making their mark in the ever evolving fashion world. Curvier women are now being revered for their style and designers are now lining up to add them in their shows, albeit in a very limited mode.
One of the first women to break out of the ideal was Jennifer Lopez whose rear end was the topic of discussion way before anyone knew that Kim Kardashian existed. That said, over the last few years Kim Kardashian has monopolized pop culture and is no stranger to attention with regards to her body.
Another pioneer in this evolution is model Ashley Graham. Ashley is no stranger with regards to promoting plus-size clothing but her popularity has grown considerably over the years. She was the first plus-size model to be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in 2016 and has been on the cover of several fashion magazines. She recently graced the cover of U.S Vogue with other supermodels in an attempt to showcase the diversity of fashion and beauty. This did not come without controversy though as there was a debate as to whether the photo was photo-shopped and that she was asked to pose in a certain way so parts of her body were concealed.
The increased popularity of curvier women making their mark in fashion has resulted in an influx of girls and women emulating their style and developing a new found confidence in their bodies.
The fact that the photo-shop concept exists and that it is not only used on plus-size models but on most images, will always hinder the progress of what society is exposed to and what they deem perfect. Another factor to consider is that designers still make clothing in limited sizes and there isn’t much variety with regards to plus-size fashion. Therefore as much the ideal of the perfect woman has been defied there is still a long way to go before this notion is eradicated completely.