Let’s talk representation in the fashion industry. There was MERDER on Twitter last year when Boohoo dropped the first teaser video for their #Allgirls campaign – although it was created, filmed and modelled exclusively by girls, with the view to being inclusive to ALL GIRLS, many felt that the teaser video only represented one type of girl – the ‘traditional’ model kind. I’m going to use ‘traditional’ here rather than normal, because, spoiler alert, no matter what size label is in our clothes, we’re all normal. Boohoo have since clarified that there is so much more to come in this campaign and yes, everyone will be represented, so eyes peeled…
I viewed the whole debate with some indifference and a shrug of the shoulders I have to admit. I don’t know where I sit in the whole traditional vs plus size fashion world. Like literally, I don’t know what I’m classed as? According to the traditional world of modelling, anything above a size 10 is classed as plus size so that puts me firmly in the PS camp. But hang on, the PS world seems to mainly focus on much bigger girls and many ranges only start from a size 16 or 18, so to me that means I don’t belong there either. I’m in some sort of ‘chunky but funky’ no mans land and I feel like a bit of a fraud by declaring for either of these camps. Indeed, I wish there were no camps at all and all sizes were just sizes and not classed as plus or minus. I don’t know, maybe the plus size world would like to remain separate and special, a sort of sub-club within the fashion world; like those who love tattoos and piercings, or those who like to look like an actual Barbie doll. I know as a Scouser, while we like to take part in the wider fashion world, Liverpool girls kind of like being in our own little Scouse club – it’s part of our identity and it feels comforting and like a community.
For most of my life I’ve been a size 14; at my smallest a 12, and at my biggest an 18 (I have to admit, I don’t miss the breastfeeding days when my boobs had the same surface area of Alaska). I don’t feel represented in the fashion world at all to be honest so I just kind of go off and do my own thing. Over the years I’ve learnt what looks good on me (fit and flare is a dream) and what I shouldn’t touch with a barge pole (burn all the bodycon) but I don’t look to any other bloggers or models or spokespeople because I don’t actually know of any who look just like me. What’s out there all seems to be far more polarised on the spectrum than where I sit. Cannot relate. But I do have hope…
Ten to fifteen years ago when I was growing up as a tall girl, every well wishing old woman I met would cheerfully joke, “Oh you’re tall! You should be a model!” and had to joke back, “Oh no, I love my food too much!” Having been told that for as long as I can remember, and loving clothes and make up – truth be told I wanted to be a model. I bingewatched America’s Next top Model (while eating Dominos and feeling crap about myself), subscribed to Vogue and with my headphones in I’d secretly practise my catwalk on the way to work. I always knew it was never meant to be though, even at 4 stone lighter than I am now, I was still a size 12. My frame just isn’t built for anything smaller. At size 12, I might as well have been size 32 – I wasn’t ‘fit’ for the modelling world.
Flash forward to now and while the fashion world isn’t perfect, it is changing and plus size bloggers are the one’s we have to thank for it. This change in attitude hasn’t come from the top – Anna Wintour isn’t sitting in Vogue HQ decrying the lack of diversity in fashion and the head designer at Gucci isn’t insisting they bring out a plus size range. This change in attitudes is coming from the very bottom. The girls on the street who are saying ‘enough’ – I am a woman too and if no one wants to represent me, I’ll do it myself.
There’s no one who has to suffer more trolling on the internet than a plus size blogger – usually from people whose lives aren’t affected by them in anyway but hey, every dickhead likes to have their opinion don’t they? Through all the bile and name calling, they’re there, rocking their favourite outfits, posing in their underwear, saying ‘fuck you’ to the world and using the clothes in their wardrobe to flaunt their figures rather than hide away in shame. I think it’s bloody beautiful. They might not look like me either but if I could bottle their confidence and attitude, I’d have it spread on my toast every morning.
“But what about the unhealthy body image they’re promoting?” Right ok, if you’re overweight then yes you’re running the risk of putting certain strains on your body etc, but that’s not what this is about. Some people are overweight but a) some people are happy like that and b) they still have to wear clothes – so why not make them nice ones? Mental health is just as important as physical health and if they’re happy, what’s the point in trying to make them feel like shit? There’s a huge service they’re doing to people out there who look like them and feel totally excluded from fashion and even from womanhood. The more someone weighs doesn’t equate to them being less of a person.
Last year I had the privilege of being part of the amazing British Style Collective (formerly The Clothes Show) and I think I was the biggest, body shape wise, of the bloggers and I felt a little like the odd one out. Either way, all of the #bloggersquad looked amazing and were so so lovely. Some of the brands in the arena catered to me and some only went up to a size 12. This was definitely more of a fashion festival for the ‘traditional’ side of fashion and that’s fab, there’s plenty of slim women in the world and they’re gorgeous and deserve to be celebrated.
September last year, I also took part in the Curve Fashion Festival at the Echo Arena which is aimed at woman size 14 and up. I had the opportunity to chat with the beautiful Tess Holliday and the likes of Grace Victory, Felicity Hayward and Gemma Collins (OMG THE GC). Prior to the event, I went on a bloggers and brands meet up day and it was lovely to meet some of these girls and see the myriad of ways in which they work it. From Rosie’s vintage style to Pere’s funky pink hair and badass tattoos, they’re all complete individuals within the fashion world and not just ‘plus size bloggers’. I think I was the smallest body shape wise of the bloggers there, so again I felt a little self conscious at being the odd one out but the girls were all so lovely and amazing and headstrong and opinionated and it was inspirational.
So to answer the question I originally posed: “Do plus size bloggers really belong in the fashion world?” Bish, they’re creating it.