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  • Writer's pictureVariant Magazine

How Fashion Trends Are Perceived Among Different Body Types

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

By Hannah Mazanec, Blogger

Models (L to R) Sydney Green, Katherine Davis and Kiara Cobb dress in outfits they feel society expects them to wear. “Honestly, I felt like this outfit wasn’t displaying my style in the way I wanted,” Green says. “Typically, I would wear this dress without the shirt underneath, but for this shoot I decided to go for more coverage. As a result, I most definitely felt less confident due to the fact that I wasn’t dressing for myself, but for the perception of others.” / Photo by Patricia Porter

It is no secret that fashion trends tend to change periodically and often die out and resurface over time. One thing that has remained consistent in the fashion industry, though, is the idea of “fashion” being synonymous with “skinny.” Although there are some plus-size brands, models with diverse body types are not seen on high fashion runways and photoshoots nearly as often as those who are more slender.

The professionals in the fashion industry are aware of the lack of diversity and still only put out clothes designed to fit the body of a model. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Tom Ford explained that “you make a sample collection for a standardised selection of measurements for models” because designers do not have time to custom-fit each individual model.

Still, this begs the question: why is the accepted standard size a size that does not represent the average woman in America? (According to a 2018 study, the average female pants size is a 16.)

There is a double standard when it comes to the body types that wear this fashion as well. For years, graphic tees, high-waisted “mom-jean” shorts and chunky sneakers used to be seen as uncool. Additionally, if you’re a larger woman wearing this outfit, you may fall victim to harsh insults and punchlines from Twitter users. But, if you’re a thin influencer, this outfit will quickly be pinned to Pinterest boards as a vibe or aesthetic.

Even though society is currently in a period of starting to accept and empower different body types, the stigma has not completely gone away. In the fashion world especially, you need to have the aspirational body that looks good in the clothes that you are wearing. The fact of the matter is that even if Kendall Jenner wore the same outfit in a photo as a plus size woman, critics are going to praise Kendall and ridicule the other.

From an early age, we are groomed to believe that a body with curves and lumps simply doesn’t look as good as a body that is tall and lean (unless those curves are in just the right places). Our generation was raised on shows like “America’s Next Top Model” where the judges were extremely harsh on the contestants and frequently micromanaged the body shape of each girl.

For years, the fashion industry has shown the world a skewed opinion of what a “beautiful” body looks like. But since it is 2020, there has been a breakthrough with that stigma, thanks to body positive influencers like Jameela Jamil and her campaign iWeigh. Still, body shaming (especially on social media) is not rare. Even celebrities like Adele, Tyra Banks, Rihanna and Jenifer Lawrence have been publicly shamed for how their bodies look.

In the end, people will always have their opinion on whether someone’s body looks good or not, but no one ever has the right to voice that opinion to others. There are so many beautiful people in this world, and beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. The only person that has to be comfortable with your body is you. Your body is something to be celebrated, regardless of whether or not it is portrayed on the runways or in fashion magazines.

(L to R) Green, Davis and Cobb dress in outfits they feel confident in. “[This] outfit is not something I would’ve worn when I was 16,” Cobb says. “I used to always feel like I was ‘too fat’ to be able to show a little skin. Now that I am 19 and have influences in the media like Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion, I literally don’t care. I feel good and that’s all that matters to me. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self it’s ok to not be skinny.” / Photo by Patricia Porter

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