There's no way to get around it: Plus-size women are underserved by retailers and underrepresented in media. Walk into any store, flip through any magazine, or look at any piece of advertising; while 67% of the population of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above, only 2% of the images in media represent plus-size women (and you'd be surprised how many of those images cast plus women in a demeaning light). Body positivity is only the beginning, of course — there's only so much an individual can do to feel good about her body when society is showing her a negative story at every turn. There's a lot more to be done, and that was the topic of conversation during Refinery29's Every Beautiful Body symposium that took place yesterday in New York City.
Over the course of the day, models, influencers, bloggers, brand representatives, and activists all spoke about issues that still pervade every aspect of life for plus-size women: from the lack of fashionable clothing and forced online shopping, to the erasure and banning of plus size bodies online. Hearing these people speak was not only inspiring, but also left me feeling frustrated by how much still needs to improve. That was a feeling shared by many of the other women in attendance, including Emme, the first plus-size supermodel in the world. As we took in imagery from the body-diverse photoshoot featured in the upcoming documentary Straight/Curve, Emme and I both started crying. It was clear that things had changed from when she began working in the 1980s; but, as the four panels illuminated, there was still so much left to do.
Although it’s vitally important to recognize positive progress and celebrate every victory, here are nine ideas explored at the event that could change everything for plus-size people.