Ideal physical appearances have always been a part of the fashion world. Models on runways influence those in the magazines we read and on the clothing sites we browse. We see the clothes we buy on these models and on mannequins before we see them on ourselves – the ‘real’ people. In the 1920s these ideals were dainty and skinny, perfect for the drop waist trends. In the 40s, it was all about curves and filling out full skirts and pin-up gear. The ideal woman is currently trying to undergo another change.
For what seemed like forever, fashion praised tall, overly-skinny girls. The use of size zero models in the 1990s and early 2000s was shockingly widespread. Those who couldn’t fit this ideal saw it impact their self-worth and perceptions of success. In a new era, 2006 saw the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Michael Jefferies, make highly controversial comments about the ‘cool’ kids that should wear his brand. This, paired with the company’s limited plus-size options has led to Jefferies’ retirement and the company having falling sales, showing how society has changed its thinking when it comes to perfection and bodies.
Fashion is a global industry, made up of consumers, producers, creators, thinkers, advertisers, models and more. A lot of the time, it can seem like it works from the top-down, with high-flying designers deciding on trends and influencing what we buy in the high street shops. But it is an industry that is ultimately made up of millions of real people. Real people, who don’t stand for objectification or who see the lack of representation their bodies get. This feeds upwards more than we realise. Plus size models are now adored for their health and their relevance. Entire brands have been formed around providing for more healthy frames because that’s what we, as members of the fashion industry, desire. So, instead of asking how it can impact our body image, we should come to ask how our beautiful bodies can influence revolutions in fashion, again and again.