September 29, 2015 12:00 AM | by Hanane Fathallah
A Plus Size Community: Where to Begin?
When does a community start existing? On what grounds does society validate one? So the real question is how can we bring women together, under the umbrella of plus size fashion and its adjacent characteristics? That's in order to form a proactive movement, that branches away from the mainstream media, from the standard norms and from the general deceptive concept of beauty. In the West, the abundance of plus size fashion bloggers has accelerated the rise of a now more omnipresent fashion movement. They helped pave the way and they have succeeded. Surely, this doesn't exclude the doubters, the haters and those who misjudge or exclude bigger women – whether directly or indirectly.
Is the Arab region ready for such a compromise? To be more accepting of the notion of women come in all sizes, that they too have style needs and that curvier and/or bigger women want to flaunt their assets too. That being said, there is a whole campaign behind the image of plus size women. One of the most misunderstood aspects is health. The media, and a fraction of society, think that by promoting larger women, we are also promoting unhealthiness and obesity. Another aspect, is that society wants us and almost forces us to be apologetic about our bodies.
Just recently, a controversial ad campaign featuring a bikini-wearing model that asks “Are you beach body ready?” was taken down from London underground, due to mass protest. Many brands, pro body-positivity brands, plus size fashion labels and swimwear retailers decided to strike back! This is what one of UK's leading plus size clothing brands SimplyBe had to say about that campaign and about body shamming:
“First of all it was singer Jamelia - who, on a UK talk show, made comments about big women and how plus size clothes should be banned from the market - and now it’s the equally narrow-minded ad campaign from Protein World, implying that only super slim and toned bodies are good enough for the beach, trying to shame those that don’t measure up into weight loss. But women have had it with the body police. You don’t need a certain type of figure to be acceptable on the beach (or anywhere else). You’ve got a body? Take it to the beach and you’ve got a beach body!”
They also made a stand against it by creating their own campaign called #SimplyBekini. “Women should be able to love themselves as they are. It’s what our is all about.” Swimsuitsforall.com and DOVE had similar and strong reactions too.
In order to start up an "Arab Plus Size Community," a lot of unnecessary taboos must be taken down, stereotyping, body-shamming, and leave more room for discussion, acceptance and tolerance. Also, two points that I always highlight:
1. There aren't many plus size fashion bloggers in the Arab region. Bloggers are the present and the future's journalists. They report quicker than any other media. In this particular domain of plus size fashion, they offer options, inspiration, reviews and help readers to find themselves, to dress better, to accept their bodies, to embrace their curves, to work harder and become healthier. Blogs are the key.
2. Fashion designers who are fresh graduates or still finishing school are never offered or never venture into designing for plus size women. The world is so spoon-fed by what SHOULD be done and what beauty is; creativity is limited.
The West is already ahead of us, as I previously mentioned Emme's ground-breaking fashion initiative “Fashion Without Limits.” It was created in direct response to a need for increased availability of size 12+ fashions throughout all levels of distribution in the fashion industry today. To make things even more interesting, a modeling agency set the bar high by booking a size 22 model Tess Holliday, especially after her consistent women-empowering blogging and her ultimately successful hashtag #EffYourBeautyStandards.
A controversial action that took the world by storm! This is what we need. A Tess Holliday phenomena/moment in the Arab region, just something to shake things up so we can start building... First step towards community is building contacts. Who is in?
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