Pretty much one of the only good things about 2017 so far (other than the many protests — have I mentioned the protests enough yet?) has been the slow but steady mainstreaming of plus-size fashion. Finally. Nike is on board, Wrangler and ModCloth are doing a cool collab in sizes XS through 4X, and just look at how hot our own Laura Delarato looks in these guerrilla billboards.
And yet. We still have so, so far to go. For example, this lingerie store's management company told the store owners to take down their ads featuring plus-size models and those with disabilities. And what on earth do we have to do to get plus-size fashion some attention in design schools? Now, the latest "plus-size" conundrum comes courtesy of fashion brand Simply Be and its beautiful, impeccably art-directed, desert-chic "We Are Curves" ad campaign featuring gorgeous "plus-size" models...who happen to hover around a U.S. size 12 or so.
Ay, there's the rub. Because while the models are lovely and do indeed have curves (perfect yet un-intimidating hourglass curves at that), they visually represent only a small — in more ways than one — fraction of plus-size women. In fact, the whole "plus size" delineation seems more and more arbitrary, and more and more ludicrous, every day, given the myriad of sizes and shapes that real women everywhere embody.
Of course Twitter noticed this discrepancy. Cosmopolitan rounded up some fair criticisms of the "We Are Curves" campaign from the Twitterverse.
Interestingly, one of the "We Are Curves" ad campaign stars, Iskra Lawrence, spoke to Refinery29 about this very subject last year:
"I’m a U.K. 14 [U.S. size 10 or 12] and I get people commenting on my pictures saying, 'If she’s plus-size, what am I?' It could be kept as an industry term — but it’s not. So you’re basically labeling half the population 'plus size,' because the fashion industry has labeled me... people don’t want to be labeled. Firstly, because why should 50% of women be labeled when the other 50% aren’t? And secondly 'plus size' has negative connotations. If you’re a U.K. 16 and over, you can’t generally shop at the same stores. And you definitely can’t shop the same collections. You have to shop in a basement or online. You are not treated equally; you’re excluded from fashion."
"If we could stop labeling all women and treat them equally, I think it would just be a huge step forward," Lawrence continued. "That’s what I’m trying to campaign for. It’s not just size; it’s exclusiveness. And just treating everyone fairly and giving them all the same opportunity to be a part of fashion."
Well said. Maybe Simply Be should ask Lawrence and her fellow "We Are Curves" models what they think about their (again, entirely beautiful — just not entirely inclusive) most recent plus-size campaign. The company leadership could probably learn a thing or two.