I know I’m a little late to the #FashionTruth conversation, but better late than never. I’m really glad that ModCloth’s co-founder Susan Koger has challenged the industry to change for the better, and I have plenty of thoughts of my own to add. Consider this my own open letter.
Dear Fashion Industry,
I’ve always loved fashion in one form or another, from the days when I pored over the rainbows of fabric colors in L.L. Bean catalogs to the time I showed off my new floral skirt for show-and-tell in first grade. I got really into style as personal expression in middle school, which is also when I became fat–so just as my interest in fashion deepened, I found myself excluded from it in so many ways.
Every teen magazine I read was full of unattainably-thin bodies, with only the occasional token plus size model who looked vaguely like me. As a young teen, I barely fit into a size 13, which was the biggest juniors’ size available in most stores–and then I gained weight and sized out of most juniors’ clothing. The fun clothes I saw in magazines rarely came in a size 16, and it was especially hard to find specialized items like prom dresses. It takes a toll on your self-esteem when you hardly ever see your reflection in media; when bodies like yours are portrayed only as problems to be solved; when you can’t find your size in most clothing stores you walk into, or can only find one rack of frumpy dresses at the back of the store.
Plus size clothing has come a long way since then, mainly thanks to the rise of online shopping. I have far more options today at a size 22 than I did then at a 16. But still, it’s rare to find my size in a brick-and-mortar store, so I’ve mostly given up on buying clothes in person. And women who wear a size or two larger than I do, let alone a size 30 or above, have significantly fewer options.
This needs to change. It’s not ok that such a large percentage of women and girls don’t see themselves reflected in fashion media, and it’s not ok that so many of us can’t find clothes in our size.