WOMEN

Body Positivity Does Not Stop At Size 14

Inclusivity in the fashion industry needs to be more than just a marketing gimmick.

Over the past few years, the fashion industry has seen more inclusivity on runways, in ads, and on social media, but many brands have been reluctant to fully embrace the body positivity movement.

That’s a damn shame, considering that according to the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average American woman is a size 16 to 18. Sixty-eight percent of American women are larger than size 14, putting them into what the fashion industry categorizes as plus-size. While most women fall into that category, not every clothing brand sells sizes to accommodate them — including some brands that claim to be body positive.

“The body positive movement is the radical idea that you should love the skin you’re in, regardless of its size, shape, color, age, ability,” fashion photographer and body positivity activist Anastasia Garcia said during an “ICYMI by HuffPost” panel discussion in New York City on Jan. 15. She said that although some clothing brands advertise body positivity or offer plus-size clothing, that inclusivity is still limited. “Some brands that claim to be inclusive stop at a size 20. I’m a 22/24.”

At an “ICYMI by HuffPost” panel discussion in New York on Jan. 15, body positivity activist Anastasia Garcia said
At an “ICYMI by HuffPost” panel discussion in New York on Jan. 15, body positivity activist Anastasia Garcia said that although some clothing brands advertise body positivity or offer plus-size clothing, that inclusivity is still limited.

Channeling some fashion industry executives’ mindset, HuffPost lifestyle reporter Jamie Feldman said, “We can say that we’re doing it, and we can put a plus-size girl in our ad campaign in a size that we don’t even carry.” 

Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters came under fire in 2017 for pulling that very stunt. It featured a plus-size model in its #UOClassof2017 ad campaign but sold only up to size 12 in its stores and online. It has since gone up to size 14 — still omitting the average woman.

Some brands, like Victoria’s Secret, have chosen to simply not participate in inclusive sizing. “We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world,” the chief marketing officer of creative services at Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, Limited Brands, Ed Razek, told Vogue last year. “We attempted to do a television special for plus sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest, still don’t.”

Responding to his comments, Garcia said, “Does Victoria’s Secret not like money? Your sales have been dropping forever, and 70 percent of women can’t wear your clothing. So let’s do the math here, guys.”

The plus-size market math comes to more than $20 billion in sales in 2016 and could rise to nearly $39 billion by 2020, according to Forbes.

Watch the “ICYMI by HuffPost” body positivity conversation in the video above.

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