Eight of them hung there, brand new and right up my street. Eight little black mini dresses that would perfectly graze a bare thigh. I hurried over, flicking through the slinky fabric until my heart sank. They had only sent up to a size fourteen.
Up until this point, I had been under the impression that the popular fashion chain I work at part-time was size-inclusive. You can imagine how great a disappointment this was. At home that night I browsed said chain’s website. For a number of products, all sizes were in stock except for the last two: the biggest sizes. My size. When I went to look for the product in the plus-size section, it wasn’t there; because apparently bigger girls don’t like to wear mini dresses. Actually, we very much do.
This wasn’t always the case for me. It is only in recent years that I have begun to embrace my body as she is and embrace fashion. I had always avoided dresses and skirts, tight and low cut tops because I didn’t see people my size wearing those things, so they must not be meant for me. The truth is, a squishy tummy looks really cute wrapped in fitted satin.
In the mid-twentieth century, the most beautiful women in the world were "plus-size". Marilyn Monroe was no size six. By the end of the century, looking like you were addicted to heroin had become chic. Kate Moss was once quoted as saying, "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"; perhaps that’s why I never saw anyone who looked like me on a shop window graphic. I do often wonder how Moss feels about that comment these days.
As I’m writing this article, I’m listening to The Fear by Lily Allen. A catchy 10s tune. I often write with a soundtrack. The line "and everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner" caught me off guard. This rhetoric and obsession with thinness is still alive and kicking today, even with the wave of body positivity. At this year’s Paris Fashion Week, model Paloma Elesser walked for Coperni’s fall 2022 runway. The collection consisted of little outfits showing lots of skin. Paloma, the only curvy model who walked, was dressed in a huge fur coat (image three).
Many commenters wondered why the larger model, among a few others, had been made to
cover up. To me, this isn't really surprising. The fashion industry has always perpetuated the myth that women only exist at a size six or below. These are the only bodies we see walking.
In 2018, Victoria's Secret chief marketing officer Ed Razek infamously told Vogue, "We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world. We attempted to do a television special for plus-size. No one had any interest in it, still don’t." While rage-inducing, this comment is also incredibly tone-deaf. The plus-size show was attempted in the year 2000 when yes, the world perhaps was not interested in plus-size bodies. Eighteen years later that had definitely changed. Lingerie is something I never, ever thought I would wear. If I wore that, then practically none of me would be covered. Yes, that is the point.
I bought my first set this year (not from Victoria’s Secret) and I have never felt more beautiful. It angered me while I looked at my curvy body in the little two-piece that I had waited for so long. A friend of mine recently told me she wanted to buy the same set that I have, but they didn’t cater for her size. What message does this send to someone?
I take pictures of myself in lingerie because I feel that seeing someone with a body like mine in something that is never seen is important. This is part of the reason why I have told myself that this summer I will wear a bikini for the first time. Even a year ago the thought of this would have been unfathomable to me. Yes, my confidence in my body has increased, largely due to self-portraits I take of myself; but these images are posed. Walking, sitting and lying on a beach will not be.
Being able to feel comfortable in lingerie has made me feel more comfortable about the prospect of swimwear, but in a bikini, my body would be totally relaxed. This still frightens me, and I'm angry that it does. Someone who looks like me has been told they need to cover up in the sun. They are not allowed to be cool and carefree like everyone else. This is my body, and she deserves to be seen. She deserves to be comfortable on a hot day.
Barbie is a huge inspiration for me - seeing someone my size embrace themselves on a platform of her calibre brings me so much joy
My body should not need to change. There shouldn’t be another section for people who look like me. That goes for petite too. Every product should have a full range. It is so disheartening when something you love is not in your size or the section of your size. I’m done being pushed to the wayside.