Plus Is Equal

What The Plus Is Equal Campaign Means For The Curvy Community

September 14, 2015, in the midst of New York Fashion Week while the straight’s with their slender physiques strutted their stuff on the catwalk wearing garments from the top fashion houses and designers, the Plus’s with their full figure curves t-shirt and jeans, and fashionista bling, took to the streets in support of their on-going commitment to bring awareness for size diversity to the fashion runway, print media and clothing brands.

At high noon in the middle of Times Square, one of the world’s largest tourist attractions, Lane Bryant staged a momentous call to action to the fashion industry with only a two-page spread in Vogue Magazine and a tweet. Lane Bryant, the once go-to chain store for maternity clothes in 1904, is a large leader in plus – size fashion for women today.

SM-PlusIsEqual-26The #PlusIsEqual campaign brought supporters and the plus size community out in droves in solidarity for size diversity in the fashion industry. The streets spilled over with insignia and slogans as all rallied to share their collective voice.

When did the discourse of size diversity in woman fashion take place? Prior to the 1900s, thinness was not on trend. The ideal figure was that of a full figured woman. A curvy woman was looked upon as being healthy and having a healthy financial status.

During the “golden age” of print media, in the early 1900s, the American woman effaced into a slender voluptuous persona. Magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue influenced many of the fashion trends, depicting a shapeless, and anorexia model. Lane Bryant, who needed to update its wardrobe, did so in a way that has driven momentum to the plus-size fashion community.

With billboards in Times Square landing just before the launch, images and video throughout social networks of followers and supporters, the plus size voice has grown just a little bit louder. The plus-size models in the Lane Bryant ad are not from days of old. The six models depicted in the coveted black and white silhouette ad in September 2015 American Vogue, reveal curvature of hips, breast and thighs. During the rally, campaign model Ashley Graham, told the crowd, “ Never let anyone tell you, ‘You can’t.’”

Once upon a time during the 1990’s, size 6 used to be considered normal to strut on the catwalk. Curves on supermodel Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington use to grace the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle, regularly. The displacement of eating disorders is an epidemic with size 8 being considered plus size; models are starving themselves to maintain a size 2.

Plus Is Equal - Layne Bryant
Plus Is Equal - Layne Bryant
Susan Moses - Plus Is Equal - Layne Bryant

In 2011 50 percent of U.S. women were a size 14 or above. Today over 65 percent of American women are categorized as plus size. There is still a stigma in the fashion industry about making clothes in a broader range of sizes. Major fashion labels with plus size lines refuse to showcase these garment because it may taint their brand recognition.

“The industry has to expand to keep the concerns of the consumer in mind,” says La Velle Olexa, senior vice president of fashion merchandising at Lord & Taylor department stores. “They have to take [the plus-size market] seriously. There’s potential for massive growth.” (www.people/archive)

In a June 2015, Jamie Feldman, HuffPost Style’s Associate Editor, interviewed Jenny McQuaile, Creator and Director of Straight/Curve, a documentary that speaks to body image in the plus-size fashion industry and allows viewers an insight to what plus-size models feel about the industry. “I have friends who are size 0 naturally that way, but to say that is the only beauty to be showcased is not realistic and hurts our society.” Leah Kelley, Model (Trailer: https://vimeo.com/132121180)

Model Emme Aronson who is 5’11”; 190-lb was considered to be a “fatty” by a high paid fashion photographer when she first started out. A decade later, only known as “Emme”, she is a World-renowned Supermodel, has appeared on countless magazine covers, authored a book and is a television personality. On November 13th of this year, she showed clips from the up coming documentary #BodyBeaUtiful at the Women & Fashion FilmFest at New York’s Seaport Studio.

#PlusIsEqual campaign has brought renewed energy to the plus community. Who will lead the body positive revolution? The plus-size fashion community continues to ban together, to have their voice heard. The conversations create a cohesive message of diversity on the runway and diversity in print media. Brands not only must listen but also take action to give the full figure woman what she deserves; clothing with just as much quality, fit and fashion as made for the straight woman.

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