Q: I am a plus-sized woman, and I don’t have a good fashion sense. For
women like me, what is fashion?
A: To all of you ladies who make the rockin’ world go ‘round, let me just say that there is no reason not to embrace fashion. Many designer labels feature the latest fashion expressly dedicated to plus-size women. You can wear chic clothing even if you are large and in charge. After all, you still want to be admired and desired, right? Unfortunately, you are not well-represented in print media and mass marketing. It’s like you are some kind of new species that has yet to be discovered.
Clothing manufacturers tend to follow the current trends, and these trends always seem to involve skinny women. When a marketing department receives authorization for an advertising budget, they tend to take the lowest risk approach available. The most common approach is to picture women as young, slim and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with that, unless it crowds out all the other female types, including the full-figured set. So, at least for print media and TV ads, we can only expect a warped view of the fair sex, in which plus-sizes are not acknowledged. This, of course, extends to just about every facet of popular media. We seldom see heavy women starring in films or TV (though Melissa McCarthy may be the funniest woman on the screen today).
I remember a show from a generation ago called Designing Women. There were literally years of press coverage about one of the show’s starts, Delta Burke, who went from skinny to extra-curvy over the course of five years, until she was fired. It turned out that Delta had type-2 diabetes and suffered from depression, no doubt exacerbated by the relentless press. But to my mind, she always looked fabulous, even at her heaviest. She has since lost 60 pounds and I’m sure still looks great, but the point is that she was always feminine, strong and attractive. The show always dressed her in very chic plus-sized fashion, and I wish similar high-quality merchandise was generally advertised today.
One thing that has changed since Designing Women went off the air is the advent of the Internet. It is now so easy to search for any niche, including “fashion for plus-sized women” and get pages of results. So, although the mainstream media is still strictly white bread, the Internet lets women connect with the latest trends in fashion, whatever their shapes. In the end, fashion is whatever makes you look good and feel good.