When perusing the most popular fashion brands and retailers, those with curvier shapes are often left feeling unrepresented and optionless. Unfortunately, the average American woman is rarely portrayed by models or mannequins. Instead, today’s world of fast fashion is often catered to the flat-chested, tiny waist, and flat stomach portion of the female population. While there is nothing wrong with this appearance, the lack of representation can leave women feeling inferior and ostracized. This was certainly the case until a few, more inclusive brands started popping up and serving those of all shapes and sizes.
As a teenage girl who grew up on Victoria’s Secret, I’ve come to accept that the bathing suits touted by popular brands like Triangl, Frankie’s Bikinis, and even Shein are simply not marketed toward women of my body type. For the past several summers I’ve envied my friends who are able to keep up with all of the latest swimwear and clothing trends. So, after years of being disappointed when I couldn’t squeeze my body into the bikinis sold by my favorite brands, I decided it would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t start searching elsewhere for my next bikini-fix.
Last summer, boredom plagued all those affected by the pandemic. Desperate for an activity, I turned my attention to online shopping, specifically for bathing suits. After hours of searching, I landed upon two websites I was unaware of in years prior: ASOS and Aerie. I was pleasantly shocked to see a wide array of models that did not necessarily sport the norms of the fashion industry. Stretch marks were broadcast, wide hips welcome, and ab lines were nowhere to be found. I finally felt as though these models truly represented what it was to be unapologetically imperfect.
I eagerly ordered several suits and, shocked, I finally found options that didn’t squeeze my stomach, and covered my chest entirely. Seeing as I am not the only woman in America who isn’t a size 2, the fashion industry has begun to spotlight different kinds of bodies in the mainstream. Take the most recent Sports Illustrated fashion show for example. Normally, the runway and magazine consists of models size 2 and under with long legs and tall stature. This year, women of all body types were celebrated and displayed. Plus-size women, middle-aged women, short women, and even women who have never modeled professionally were cheered down the runway. Instead of choosing to promote women with unhealthy habits and restrictive diets, Sports Illustrated saluted self-love - even for those with more to love.
Luckily, ASOS, Aerie, and Sports Illustrated are only several of the many companies, brands, and organizations that are choosing to veer away from modeling in a traditional sense. When thinking of the women’s wear powerhouse that Victoria’s Secret is and has been, the first thought that comes to mind is the “Angels” that embody the Victoria’s Secret aesthetic. These “Angels” have essentially defined what it is to be an attractive woman in modern society for as long as I can remember. But even Victoria’s Secret has chosen to forgo this iconic image as times have begun to change. The quintessential annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show has been cancelled as the company has decided it is time to re-brand. No longer will its store solely focus on the thinnest that society has to offer. Rather, it is time the company expands its brand to encapsulate all that is their female target group.
The dissemination of the staple bodies that have defined the fashion industry for years is not only relevant in the world of glamour, but rather it represents the cultural shift that has been in the works for years. With some of the most popular influencers sharing and celebrating their insecurities, differences, and non-idealistic features, the average woman is becoming further empowered to promote her true self, in whatever form that may be. Personally, I am more inclined to share less-posed, more authentic shots on Instagram - something that I’ve yearned to do for years. Social media and brands themselves are becoming a more inclusive space where you and I can find comfort in representation.
Thankfully, I believe these recent developments are only the tip of the iceberg for what is sure to be a revolution in the collective mindset of our society. Perhaps one day every website will be filled with people of all colors, sizes, and shapes. We’re on the road, and change is quickly occurring. All bodies are beautiful and, luckily, it appears as though the critical world of fashion is realizing this truth.
Written by: Alexandra CoopermanInstagram: @alexandracooperman