For far too long, women in larger bodies have had to fight an uphill battle to find cute clothing that actually fits them in a fashion industry that primarily caters to smaller sizes. On top of this, there has been a significant lack of plus size models within the fashion world for bigger women to look to to see themselves represented within clothing campaigns and mainstream media advertising. For a long time, it seemed that the only way to be accepted in fashion was to make yourself smaller to fit incredibly rigid industry standards.
Thankfully, in more recent years there has been a rise in brands that cater to women who wear plus size clothing. There’s been a shift away from body shaming women for being outside the sample size category, and a much better shift toward body positivity. This has allowed for the rise of inclusive sizing across many popular fashion brands, and put plus size models at the front and center of the fashion world along with their smaller size counterparts.
What is Inclusive Sizing?
Inclusive sizing refers to the practice of fashion brands making their clothing items in sizes that range from petite to plus size. It can also include size options for tall women, who might find standard size bottoms and dresses to be too short in length. Inclusive sizing helps to make all women, no matter their size, feel like they are included in the fashion world, and allows them to shop more easily. In the past, plus size and specialty size women had to jump through hoops to find fashionable clothing that fit them; often women would have to go to great lengths to find niche boutique shops that specifically catered to their measurements.
In terms of what sizes fall under the umbrella of inclusive sizing, it depends upon the brand. The most inclusive companies offer sizes XXS to 6X. This equates to 00 to 36 in numeric sizing. Some brands offer even more options, going up to size 8X. Inclusive sizing ensures that women are able to find something that they want to wear, no matter how big or small they are.
Plus Size Models
With more brands embracing inclusive sizing, more plus size models have come to prominence in the fashion world, becoming strong voices for other women who look like them, and paving the way for the acceptance of bigger bodies. Some of the most prominent plus size models shaping the future of fashion today include:
Ashley Graham has been in the fashion industry since she was a child, beginning her modeling career at age 12. Since then, Graham has become one of the most popular models in the world, plus size or not. Graham proudly has flaunted her curves on the covers of magazines all over the globe, including Sports Illustrated, Vogue, and Glamour. Graham has also become an advocate for body positivity, and has given Ted Talks on why the acceptance of plus size bodies is so important in the fashion world. Graham has also created her own swimwear and lingerie lines, both of which include extended size options.
Barbie Ferreira became a particularly notable name in the plus size fashion world after a campaign of untouched images of her for the brand Aerie went viral in 2016. Since then, Barbie has modeled for a number of hugely popular brands like ASOS, Forever21, and Target. Barbie has brought plus size representation to the entertainment world as well: she most notably stars in the HBO drama series Euphoria as plus size teen, Kat Hernandez. Just as it’s wonderful to see plus size models in magazines and on catwalks, it’s equally exciting to see plus size actresses in movies and television, bringing even more representation to the mainstream media.
Tess Holliday is a plus size model who made waves on Instagram after starting the hashtag “#effyourbeautystandards” to call for more inclusivity in the fashion world. Holiday is also an outspoken advocate for mental health and has been candid about her struggles with anorexia and the need for more open conversations about eating disorders and how they affect people in bigger bodies. Holiday has graced the cover of many magazines including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Nylon.
While the fashion industry still has a long way to go to be fully inclusive of all body types, there are a number of plus size models in the fashion world who have made great strides in advocating for inclusive sizing. Plus size models help women in bigger bodies feel represented in the fashion world. Being plus size shouldn’t mean being a fashion outsider: by making an effort to include plus size items in their catalogs and putting plus size models in their marketing campaigns, clothing brands can help to build the inclusive fashion world we deserve.