Big name fashion companies are shifting the focus away from unrealistic beauty standards to become more inclusive and representative than ever before.
By: Carlee Gettman
Since the birth of the fashion industry, companies have either avoided or promoted the apparent elephant in the room. The elephant being the unrealistic beauty standards that flooded the fashion environment. There was one way that these businesses wanted their clothing lines to be represented on and off the runway. The models were to be tall, thin, blonde, white, loads of make-up and not a single imperfection. That sounds reasonable, right? Not a bit.
The ideals of what qualified a woman as beautiful evolved from the mind of men. Men were predominately controlling the fashion industry and calling the shots of what they would like to see on the catwalk, in magazines and billboards. That would be similar to having a lawyer perform brain surgery, it just does not make sense.
As this toxic environment pursued, mental health professionals began drawing correlations between mental health issues in young women and the fashion industry. According to the film “Miss Representation”, 53 percent of 13-year-old girls were dissatisfied with their bodies and by the age of 17 that number increased to 78 percent in 2011. These findings were based upon the fashion industry objectifying and altering the desired self-image of women.
Young women that did not look like these models felt excluded and misrepresented. In 2013, big name fashion companies like Abercrombie & Fitch refused to make their clothes in XL or XLL sizes. Their sizing went to the extent of a large and that’s it. The company did not want curvier women representing their brand, and there’s everything morally wrong with that.
Luckily, it’s 2020 and this horrific trend is on its way out. It was not until a few years ago that companies finally decided to take a stand and shift the outdated dynamic of the industry. Companies such as American Eagle Outfitters, ASOS, Urban Outfitters and Versace introduced new campaigns that represent all women as beautiful.
American Eagle Outfitters was one of the first companies to roll out their new vision for the industry. They first launched their groundbreaking line, Aerie, in 2014. This line focused on promoting body positivity and inclusion by offering extended sizes, diverse models and no photoshop. Aerie was meant to encourage young women to embrace their natural selves and love who they are, something not usually seen in the world of fashion.
The success of the Aerie brand led the company to migrate extended sizes into all of their clothing. They now offer jeans in curvy, short, long, slim, mom, jegging, high-waisted, low-waisted, wide, tomgirl, flare, jogger and cropped. There is a fit for everyone.
The company’s prosperity influenced other brands to do the same. Urban Outfitters and ASOS quickly joined in on the fun. These two companies decided diversity is beautiful and wanted their brands to reflect that message. Urban Outfitters and ASOS models represent young women from different backgrounds, cultures, sizes and appearances. As companies continue following in these foots steps, this could be the start of the fashion revolution.
Versace has caught on to this trend and the desperate need for change. In this year’s fashion week, the fashion powerhouse made history. They are the first company to incorporate women of all sizes on the catwalk. The company introduced three plus-size models on the runway dressed in Versace clothing from head-to-toe. This was more than a statement to the industry it was a message of opportunity to young women across the world.
This is the moment women have been waiting for, to finally be embraced by the world for natural appearances. For an industry that has faced long term criticism for the exclusion of diversity, this is a huge step in the right direction. One day, these standards may be a thing of the past.