The big debate: health vs. size

The problem with body image and diversity in the fashion industry is not new, but representation of more diverse models in the industry and media has been shockingly slow. With the release of the recent trailer for the Straight/Curve documentary, which aims to redefine the beauty ideals created by the fashion industry, it is interesting to look closely at our misconceptions.

Straight/Curve Trailer from Jenny McQuaile on Vimeo.

Currently the ideal model in fashion is young, white and slim. However, in my view here lies our biggest misconception. The Straight/Curve documentary is aiming to show how women can be fit and healthy in a vast range of different sizes.

I question the idea that a size 0 is a healthy image, when some women have to engage in dangerous diets to maintain that size. This pressure to maintain a size 0 to ensure work within the modelling industry is a huge concern. Of course some women are naturally and beautifully a size 0, but this is not achievable or maintainable for all. On the other hand we have been programmed to believe that anything above a size 14 is unhealthy. However there are many women larger than a size 14 who can run marathons and maintain a level of fitness many smaller women do not maintain.

Health and fitness is unique to each and everyone of us and should not be confused with size. The big question is, what makes someone healthy? It is not size alone and we should be embracing all shapes and sizes, creating a diverse representation of women within the media.

The consumers are demanding to see a more diverse range of models within the media representation, and many modelling agencies have models who are a range of sizes on their books. The problem though, is that the brands provide clothing samples in a selected size, which fits the stereotyped model and on the whole excludes plus-size models.

The day we don’t get excited about seeing a plus-size model in a magazine is the day we have made a difference. Models of all shapes and sizes need to be normalised, before they are truly accepted. There is not one woman that reflects everyone, each and every woman is unique and this needs to be embraced by the fashion industry.

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