Is the fashion industry finally actively taking part in body positivity movement? Discover how our analysis shows that New York Fashion Week Spring Summer 2019 has been the most body positive one so far, and why diversity amongst models is so important on the runway.

Why Diversity is Important in the Fashion Industry?

Body Positivity Movement cushnie-spring-2019-collection-ss19-fashion-show-nyfw-dress (39)
Cushnie

Hi gorgeous! One of the most common complaints fashion magazines get from their readers is that they instill lack of confidence. They portray models with “too perfect” bodies, setting impossible beauty standards for young women. But one of the reasons fashion media portrays the “thin, white and tall” models is because fashion industry as a whole has set that standard already.

It is a chicken and egg problem. Did fashion designers start hiring only skinny models to walk their runways? Or did fashion magazines first start hiring thin models to grace their covers? Either way, the problem persists. The fashion industry lacks diversity, and therefore, body positivity.

The Influence of Fashion Industry on Body Image

Fashion weeks and magazines have an influence on women’s self-esteem and body image everywhere. What is showcased in fashion weeks goes on to being featured in media. And that’s most true for the big four of the industry – New York Fashion Week, London Milan and Paris Fashion Week. And what magazines feature makes a subconscious mark on the young women’s minds, especially when it’s similar throughout the industry.

When 90% of the women who’re featured look a certain way, women pick up signals of what’s considered normal, from a very young age. This ideal body image is difficult to shed even when they get older.

That’s why, fashion magazines have the responsibility to make sure they’re not just featuring healthy women, but also advising on health and being good role models themselves.

Is it Ideal to Show Realistic Body Types?

In an ideal world, fashion industry, both on the runways and in media, would showcase the reality – women just like we see daily: with their realistic bodies, skin colours, heights, weights, gender preferences, skin “flaws” and different body types. And then us regular girls wouldn’t have our “I-hate-my-body” days! Everyone would be happy.

But then there needs to be some aspirational element to it, too. After all, fashion is about creating a fantasy world – something to look up to, not just in terms of how we should dress, but also how we should be. All realistic body types exactly “healthy”. So personally, I prefer healthy models as opposed to plus sized or skinny.

So What is Body Positivity Movement

The body positivity movement is a revolution where all body types and shapes are accepted as being equally attractive, regardless of whether or not they’re traditionally known for being “beautiful” or attractive. Sure enough, this movement is an initiative by women of unconventionally beautiful body types, like plus sized or pear-shaped. But women of all other shapes and sizes support this, too. Other body types such as rectangular, are often not considered conventionally attractive because of their lack of curves, or lack of a proportionally slender waist. So this movement is really for everyone.

How New York Fashion Week is Changing Things for the Body Positivity Movement

New York Fashion Week Spring Summer 2019 is noteworthy. Curvy body types are becoming more and more common. Even up until last year, having a plus sized model walk your runway was mostly done to create headlines. But this year, I am noticing that designers are doing it in a general, no-big-deal type of way! We saw a mix of body types, genders and races.

christian siriano dress plus size nyfw fashion week spring summer 2019 ss19 shoes
Christian Siriano

I enjoyed spotting so many looks on curvy, pear shaped and plus sized women:

We saw plenty women of color:

Loads of androgynous clothing for nonbinary women, or just anyone who doesn’t love feminine looks:

And of course, unconventional beauty:

And different ethnicities:

So my thoughts to New York Fashion Week: great way to lead the rest of the fashion world in this body positivity movement. Go at this rate and the days when Miranda Priestly called Andy “fat” may soon be behind us!

Next Steps?

Of course, there’s still a long way to go. A lot of the big ticket designers like Jeremy Scott or Oscar de la Renta still refuse to show curvy models in their fashion shows, and we think they should learn something from design houses like Cushnie et Ochs and Christian Siriano.

However, even though not all designers have embrace natural body types, diversity or androgynous clothing, but baby steps like this contribute a lot in making young women feel confident about their natural selves.

monse rope print dress spring summer 2019 ss19 shoes
Monse

So what are your thoughts on the fashion industry’s baby steps towards making each and every one of us feel confident about ourselves? What else do you feel the fashion industry should do to participate in the body positivity movement? Comment below or tweet me @shilpa1ahuja!

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Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion. Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That's how it evolved over centuries and that's how it's been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives. Shilpa's work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times. Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book "Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India". Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email contact@shilpaahuja.com

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