Why the world needs to see that beauty comes in all sizes

Miranda Shelton, Opinion Editor

An industry that once encouraged eating disorders and double zero waists is now embracing the curves of a fuller woman. The fashion world has made leaps and bounds in integrating plus size models into major magazines and runway shows. Many designers have created plus-size clothing lines. The world as a whole is starting to accept the fact that people come in all shapes and sizes, and I think it’s awesome.


When I was 12 years old I saw The Devil Wears Prada for the first time. As soon as the movie was done I remember going to my closet, taking out a sparkly dress and a pair of heels that at one point belonged to my mother, and slathering on as much gloss as my small lips could hold. I threw on some music and strutted around my bedroom pretending I was one of the girls from the movie. Every part of me wanted to be in that world.


But I knew that I couldn’t. I was a fairly skinny child growing up, but as soon as puberty hit it was like someone pressed a button and everything changed. My weight fluctuated throughout middle and high school and finally settled somewhere healthy, but I didn’t look like any of the women I saw on TV or in magazines. In my mind, I was fat.


I was lucky, though. I had an amazing set of parents and a supportive group of friends, and I grew up in a very progressive place that adopted the body positivity movement much sooner than some other places in the country.


But that didn’t change the fact that until I was 17 years old, I thought having curves was gross. I did everything in my power to hide them, whether it was behind clothes or things I was carrying. One time, a friend walked in on me changing, and I jumped into my bed and under my covers to hide from her.


Girls and boys need people to look up to, specifically people who look like them. Plus-size modeling has always been around, and as long as the fashion world continues to exist, so will the need for plus size clothes.


Many fashion lines have fully embraced the ideal of a natural woman. Aerie, American Eagle’s intimates brand, launched an “Aerie Real Girl” ad campaign which features women of all shapes, sizes and colors in photos that are completely un-retouched.


Dove’s “Empower All Bodies” campaign features women sporting cellulite, stretch marks and tummy folds, looking fierce and beautiful. This campaign was also one of the first to include a disabled model, which is another perfect example of people under-represented in the fashion world.


There is now such a thing as a plus-size supermodel. Thirty years ago, this concept was unheard of, but now you have women like Robyn Lawley gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, or men like Zach Miko, Target’s only male plus size model.


We are just hitting the tip of the iceberg on an overdue change, and the backlash is, sadly, predictable.


There has been a lot of media coverage on Amy Schumer’s reaction to Glamour’s new plus-size magazine edition, as she was included in the issue without her approval. She argued, “I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus-size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus-size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. [Glamor] put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus-size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool Glamour not glamourous.”


While this is a pressing issue, I think the bigger issue is needing a  “special edition” for plus-sizes in the first place. Plus-size models should be in every edition of every fashion magazine. They should be there right alongside the size zeros and size sixes. They should be considered a normal part of the fashion world.


Carrie Brownstein said in response to the Glamour issue, “I find ‘special editions’ problematic in general, or at least specious, in that they frame the content as ‘other.’” I think she is absolutely right. This issue of Glamour has made the majority of the women and men in the world feel abnormal, when by definition they are the most normal.


If designers and fashion editors think it’s okay to continue to put thin models ahead of plus-size models in the fashion world, they are living in a world of delusion. It’s time to start giving the people what they want, and what they want is accurate representation.