People Keep Remaking Fashion Ads To Be More Diverse — So Why Isn't Fashion Changing?

Photo: Charlotte Gomez/Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed.
We love when traditional, homogenous fashion imagery is reimagined in a way that goes against the (thin, white) grain. The latest project to challenge our perception of what's "in" comes from BuzzFeed, where a group of women, fed up with fashion advertisements, took matters into their own hands. Five staffers chose six ads from 2016 to re-create featuring their own bodies, which resulted in — you guessed it — some premium, woke slayage.

For decades, leading fashion brands have marketed size 2-or-smaller figures to their size 14-or-larger customers. Only recently have they seriously been called out. The tweaked ads included offerings from Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Agent Provocateur, Brandon Maxwell, and Kate Spade. In the accompanying video, the models addressed the discrepancy in marketing to the 67%, the majority of America's women, using people who represent the slimmest minority.

Apart from the obvious — that women are beautiful no matter what they're wearing, and that clothing sizing is arbitrary — it was these women's reactions and ah-ha moments about how they feel about their bodies that makes the project that much more impactful. They ranged from "This is amazing. I'm so fucking proud of myself for doing it. I could have never imagined in a million years that I would have done something like this," to "I feel sexy in this photo," to "Honestly, this feels as close to Gigi Hadid as I could possibly get. I can't believe I got this close."
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Photo: Charlotte Gomez/Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed.
We asked one of the models in the project, BuzzFeed associate editor Sheridan Watson, what it was like to participate in something like this. "I've always been obsessed with the fashion industry, but never felt like there was a place for women like me: women who are of a certain size and actually happy to be that size," Watson told Refinery29. "I'm a girl's girl — I think that every body is beautiful no matter if you're a size 0 or a size 30. As long as you're happy and healthy, that's all that matters. That's what we wanted to show: We're a group of happy, funny, strong women who are also beautiful."

As for how they pulled it off? "The shoot was tough — honestly, modeling is way harder than it's made out to be. We also hired a professional stylist to help find clothes, because these companies don't carry clothes in our sizes!" Watson said, noting a direct message for designers spurred by her experience being in this shoot: "Please make plus-size clothes — I'll give you all my money!" One of the intended takeaways from the imagery, as far as Watson is concerned, is for the refreshingly retooled photos to empower other women to view their own bodies in a more positive light. "If it helps even one person realize that they're allowed to feel happy no matter what others tell them, then we did our job."
Photo: Charlotte Gomez/Macey J. Foronda/BuzzFeed.
We'd say that's a job well done. Women don't want to look at Gigi Hadid and feel lightyears away from that paradigm of beauty, because people shine in their own ways, ways they want to see reflected in the places they're spending their money. Isn't that what sells clothes, anyway? To be clear, shoots like this aren't meant to "thin-shame" anyone, but to add to the larger conversation that every body is beautiful. And clothing — and, yes, that includes the curve-hugging body-con styles and all — can look good on anyone who feels good wearing it.
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