Fashion Injustice: The Myth of Beauty in a Box
Like a lot of women, I'm learning how to embrace the body I have, not the one I had twenty years ago before my daughters were born. Funny that I've been in this skin all of my life and have never fully embraced all of it's rolls, curves, and stretch marks. It has been a lifelong struggle, a companion really. First, as a chubby kid whose thighs rubbed together and then as a tween who budded earlier than my peers. Depending on my self image at the time, I was either covering up, slimming down, or showing too much. I wanted to wear stylish, fashionable clothes that other girls were wearing, but I eventually gave up in my twenties. Either the proportion was off, the fit was too tight or loose or the length was too short.
So when I got engaged, I had already been conditioned to believe that I wouldn't be able to find a dress that I loved. I was told there wasn't a demand for gowns for me to try on and that I'd have more success if I lost 20 pounds. But rather than accepting defeat, I fought back by creating a dress that I loved.
Almost ten years later and not much has changed in the fashion industry. Yes, there have been bright spots here and there, yet high-end designers refuse to create collections for curvier women. Like actress Leslie Jones, we have to politely ask someone to dress us for a red carpet premiere. Smaller women don't have to accept less than than deserve, so why are curvy women treated so poorly? This was all the more true at New York's Fashion Week that ended Friday. Other than model, Ashley Graham's lingerie line there was very little focus on women larger than a size 12. So I was ecstatic when Tim Gunn, co-host of LifeTime's cable show Project Runway, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post exposing the fashion industry's disdain for plus size women.
Gunn took a stand and I'm thankful that he did. We need more people, including men in the industry to shatter the myth that beauty comes in a tall, thin and blonde package. If you don't fit into these boxes you're not gorgeous, deserving of love or worthy of clothes that look great.
I hope that celebrities and plus size stores continue to pressure the industry to change and that more designers will abandon the antiquated ideology that demeans women and distorts the virtues of true beauty. Actress Danielle Brooks just penned an essay charging the media to do a better job of reflecting plus the fact that 67% of American are plus size.
Perhaps one day I'll make peace and love the curves I have right now. The pressure to conform only has power when you listen to the whisper that says you're not beautiful just as you are. I hope that the work we do at Curvy Rose allows women to silence that voice and embrace their plus size beauty fully and completely.
Next week at Vow Bridal Market in Atlanta Chanza and I will be choosing another set of wedding gowns for Curvy Rose. Among the beautiful sequins, beads, and lace, we will be looking carefully at designers that understand proportion and fit for curvy plus size women. Call us soldiers in the fight for fashion justice or advocates for women of all shapes and sizes, we'll keep whacking at that fashion ceiling until it all comes crashing down.