In the past, much of the focus has been on how the fashion industry over-sexualizes women, creates body dysphoria (a sense of displeasure or disconnect from your physical body), and creates unrealistic expectations for how people should look and dress every day. But recent years have seen a subtle shift in these sorts of perceptions. Women who work in the fashion industry today have a front row seat to watch and create the positive changes happening in the fashion world today.
A recent positive trend in the industry is a promotion of the realistic portrayal of women’s bodies, referred to by some as the “body positivity movement”. For decades on the runway, we saw tall and willowy models who were impossibly thin. In the magazines, ads, and catalogues, we saw blemish-free faces and tailor-fitted clothes. In short, we had been fed illusions of what women actually looked like. Recently, there has been a push to celebrate diversity in size, shape and race. American Eagle’s lingerie and lounge line, Aerie, began leaving their models untouched in their advertisements. Companies such as Target have started to carry clothing lines that celebrate a variety of sizes.
Changes like these are to thank in large part to the positive influence of women working in the fashion industry, and the first place the changes are starting to come from the women who spend their money–which is pretty much everyone who wears clothes. For a long time, there have been women asking for the companies that they shop with to consider what “real” women look like, and the companies have started to listen. Designers have started creating their lines in a variety of sizes, and stores are expanding their offerings.
It’s also come down through the entertainment industry as well. TV shows such as America’s Next Top Model, who previously used models that fit the accepted body type and shape, have since launched seasons that feature models of varying heights and sizes. Models like Winnie Harlow have risen to prominence because the show took the time to celebrate her rare skin condition, vitiligo, which causes white patches to develop across her otherwise dark skin.