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Progress with plus size fashion or a Red Carpet Facade?

A-List celebrities are bringing the plus size community into the fashion industry more and more. Are designers taking advantage of this. Are they making out that they are incorporating plus size looks but then won’t sell them to the general public?

In the past, many luxury designers have been hesitant to dress plus size celebrities. Do you now have to be famous to be worthy of plus size luxury clothing? Progress is being made, but at a slow pace.

In 2020, Lizzo attended the Grammys in a custom white Versace gown and Beanie Feldstein was seen at the Golden Globes in Oscar de la Renta and at the Oscars in Miu Miu. In society, the general rule is that if you are over a certain size you should dedicate your time to becoming smaller.

Recently, the plus size body is being celebrated but concerns are being raised regarding this just being a façade or short term trend so designers/brands don’t get boycotted or cancelled.

Which celebrities have experienced sizeism on the red carpet?

At the 2019 Grammy Awards, Bebe Rexha had trouble with finding designers to dress her and told her Instagram followers; “I had my team hit out a lot of designers and a lot of them do not want to dress me because I’m too big.” Just to clarify, she is a size 8.

“The fashion industry and Hollywood dressing is sizeist. They’re sizeist. And this is the time for us to be pushing ahead in championing the cause of inclusivity in dressing and sizing because it’s an archaic place currently.” Christina Pacelli

There are many examples of ‘plus size’ celebrities being neglected when it came to having their outfits designed for them to go onto the red carpet. This includes Ashley Graham who wore a custom Dior gown to the 2019 Met Gala red carpet. In the past she has revealed that no designer wanted to dress her. In an interview with The Cut, she said she was put ‘on hold’ for the event, stating; “I couldn’t get a designer to dress me, and you can’t just show up in jeans and a T-shirt.”

Due to being a size 14, actor Christina Hendricks admits to having trouble finding a dress for the red carpet. She told the Daily Record; “People have been saying some nice, wonderful things about me. Yet not one designer in town will loan me a dress. They only lend out a size 0-2.” She added that she has never felt pressured by this to lose weight for a role.

Body image on the red carpet

Regarding these on-going red carpet issues, sizeism and body image within the fashion industry reflects the biases of our society as a whole so it is hard to name and shame, and only place blame on certain designers. It is an industry wide problem with editors, models and agencies but steps are being made in the right direction.

In Renaissance art, red carpets appeared frequently, usually intricately patterned in style, and were seen in paintings of deities, saints and royalty. Today, it’s synonymous with glamorous events attended by movie stars and celebrities the ‘modern-day royalty’. Red carpet events have become a modern-day spectacle and posses great influence on the fashion world.

Steps are being made to incorporate plus size fashion and for it to be more accepted. According to Siriano, designers hold the key and can dictate who wears what simply by making it. “If you make a dress in size 14, you can force a modelling agency to provide a model who wears a size 14.”

Social media’s affect on the fashion industry and plus size people

The fashion industry has always thrived on a platform of exclusivity and shaping its own perception of beauty through exclusivity. Social media is allowing consumers to pick and choose what they believe and feel is right for them and is becoming more reflective of society.

It also has its disadvantages with influencers editing and changing the way they look to fit the fashion industry’s ‘beauty standard’ to get more followers and likes. The more interactions influencers get, the more brands will cater to their demographic and perceptions. It’s becoming a vicious cycle and needs to be addressed.

Although a revolution is on its way, the power of social media has and will have a greater influence on fashion consumption.


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