Last week was Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia for those playing at home. Exciting times, right? The fashion world hosts dinners and parties, runways and events. And BIG surprise, pun intended, there is not a visibly plus-sized woman to be seen. It’s disappointing, and as runways (and street style photography) worldwide get real with what fashion looked like in 2019, we are woefully behind.
Years ago, we started talking about what would it take for our parades and brands to be more inclusive with the representation of different body types. We even had a few years of niche, specialised shows. This momentum and excitement had us believing that we would see representation on the runways one day.
More than a gimmick and women could look to these shows, not just to be inspired but to see themselves as someone of value.
But it hasn’t. Not really. We continue to see the same handful of ‘acceptable’ plus size, moderately diverse models trotted out to speak to the media as an attention-getter for brands looking for something to get them a little coverage. After all, in my opinion, if you were genuinely interested in diversity, there wouldn’t be such small moves.
Go big, show us an actual fat person! Heck, while you’re at it, instead of hiring or promoting the same body type or ‘look’ over and over, include a trans person, a person with a disability or visual difference. Let’s make things interesting and let that genuine diversity speak for itself. You know, without it being the primary motive behind your press release.
More celebration, less appropriation, please.
People wonder why the purchaser has become so cynical and ultimately critical of brands who do this. We’re sick of being fed bullshit. It’s not hard to see why. Brands will use a model that barely reaches a size 16 (let’s face it, most are 12/14) and screams about their progressiveness. It’s old news when the brands advertising, social media, website and sizing aren’t remotely inclusive.
I’m a big believer that you can brand and market your business as YOU see fit. I’m not saying you HAVE to be inclusive or include some social message in your branding. BUT when you jump into this arena for the sake of likes, views and coverage, you had better be all in. The customers, we, see right through all the other attempts.
And I know some people will say, okay, so if you want to be seen, why don’t you show up? Why aren’t you in Melbourne hitting the pavement, hustling for the invite or covering the shows from general public seats? Couldn’t I have done something more to make the coverage and inclusion of plus-size women better?
Let me answer by saying that that sort of adventure costs money.
And for a plus-size blogger in Australia, it’s not worth my investment. The entire niche is pretty low return, but that’s a story for another day, team. To invest my time and money into producing outfits, content and coverage for an event and brands that want nothing to do with my industry segment is pointless. Maybe I sound pessimistic to you, but I’m being real here.
To cover costs on a weeklong trip with relevant and photographable outfits takes money. And in my world, that money has to result in something beneficial to my business (the blog in this case) for it to be worth investing time and money. As a visibly plus-size woman, outside of what the world considers to be acceptably fat, the general ways to recoup that spend are too few to count.
And that’s despite being white, straight, cis-gendered and employed.
The outfits won’t be photographed and shared on street style blogs. That’s not an assumption, look at them, and you’ll see (just Google the event name). Pages and pages, slide after slide of thin, predominately white women. No coverage means procuring relevant styles from brands is almost impossible. This isn’t something that an influencer who is thinner would have to deal with.
My blog coverage and articles wouldn’t be reproduced or purchased. There is little opportunity for sponsorship as our audiences are large enough, we’re too niche, or not applicable to the showcasing brands (how could they be when they don’t make our size?). Sure, I’ve done the work before and had trips and conferences sponsored by a brand.
Would I put in that level of effort to attend Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia? Nah, probably not. Not in its current incarnation.
If I were there to report on behalf of you guys, I’d have to be talking about how no one is interested in us. That brands here are determined to ignore a significant portion of women even now, as the world moves away from that idea. Business model? And you can’t tell me the larger websites, magazines, or even TV are interested in that story. A fat woman on a blog complaining is practically laughable.
So, what do we do about it? I’m not sure. As I said, there’s no way that at this stage in the evolution of Australian fashion that I’ll be covering more. Not for brands that won’t dress us, of events that won’t invite us with people who see no value in us. Perhaps the answer is MORE support for the brands that do try. The inclusive ones, the ones with a decent sizing spread. I’ve always been determined to BE the change I want to see in the world, but on this one, I’m a little stumped.
What about you? Do you have any ideas on how we cause a lasting shift here?
Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash
Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.