Fashion in itself is an insanely wide subject. It’s personal and professional, it’s about making a statement and, more importantly, it’s solely about embracing what’s best for you, what makes you comfortable and confident. However, fashion is a tad bit complicated too. I say complicated because I have experienced how, for as long as I can remember, the very fabric of our society has associated the idolisation of fashion with a particular size.
For years, digital applications and social media platforms have offered body tuning assistance where one can slim body parts in a photo. Hell, they even have an auto mode where they’ll slim your body to what they feel is an “appropriate” standard and there you go, you have a photo which looks nothing like you, which represents nothing for you, but it’s out there in the digital world being how it’s “supposed” to be. The standards we’ve been overpowered with are not only unattainable, but they’re also obnoxious, demanding, and swaying away from reality. On a favourable note, however challenging it is to bring about change in a world that constantly wants you to be a certain way, people have stopped giving in to unmeasurable standards. They’re owning their identities, peaking at self-love, and spreading the true meaning of body positivity.
We’re slowly moving towards size inclusivity. People are embracing their different body types, brands are identifying aspects that go beyond monetary gains, and the movement of acceptance is here to stay, which has been challenging for women globally.
Suggested Reading: Plus-Sized Women And Dating: Your Weight Never Determines Your “Datability”
The big hole in the midsize fashion
As someone who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, I always watched shows, picked up magazines and saw billboards and tried identifying with the representation out there, but I couldn’t. I struggled to figure out where I belonged, and while I grew confident in being myself while growing up, I did wonder about the fashion industry single faceted agenda, the societal nastiness when it came to body types and the effect it had on innumerable women around me. I visited a bridal store with a friend last month, and the shop assistant told her that it’ll be better if she went down a size because she has time until her wedding in January to fit into the lehenga she liked. Why not make the lehenga in my friend’s size, I asked. Why is it that only people have to fit into clothes, why can’t clothes be designed to fit people?
Recent research on the women-clothing market revealed that the global plus-size clothing market for women is expected to reach beyond a market value of $264.4 billion in 2027. The paper revealed how the growing market potential has the opportunity to accumulate over $1570 billion. With a few fashion brands taking necessary measures to become size-inclusive, there still are challenges if we look at the larger picture.
Lack of mid-size representation
Women’s relationship with fashion has always been on and off. For instance, we’d love it if we walked into our favourite store, picked up a dress, and fit into it. But what about times when you love an outfit and it just doesn’t fit? That’s okay, too, but what’s unsettling is when certain brands don’t create our size, leave alone display it. What is even more problematic is when brands make your size but on most occasions, showcase that clothing line on only one body type leaving a lot of us to wonder. The lack of representation of diverse body sizes has caused a serious effect on growing children as well. I often wonder where the people who identify as in-betweeners go? The good side of social media has given hope and shattered conventional outlooks in this regard.
What is mid-size fashion and how has it caused a wave of change
If you browse through the internet at this point, the term mid-size fashion is found all across in forms. Thankfully, a lot of body positivity influencers and mid-size creators are doing everything in their power to make people feel relatable, something that has lacked for decades on social media platforms. These influencers showcase their fashion sense, give honest shopping recommendations and reviews, and also support each other in their endeavours.
“When I create content around the smallest of fat-shaming experiences, I receive so many overwhelming responses. It makes people who relate to me feel seen.” – Diksha Singhi
Anushka Moore, a creator and founder of Mid Size Collective, a platform that features mid-sized women, started her initiative to give a voice and face to the real side of the people who identify with mid-size bodies. The platform’s bio reads, “The home of not petite but not plus-sized style. Reppin’ the size 10-16 babes.” Like Moore, several creators have used their space responsibly and highlighted the cause leading generations to understand that fashion is for all, not just for a particular body type.
“It’s amazing to see that social media, which was a space that breeder insecurity among people, is – to some extent- evolving into a space where people are expressing the very identities that they were ashamed of.”
A similar lack of representation led Priyanka Sharma, a techie from Bengaluru, to advocate for mid-size fashion. Sharma is a digital creator and showcases the latest trends and styling tips on her Instagram page. She told SheThePeople that she drew her inspiration from her daily life, her experiences, what she saw around her and how she learned of the discrimination against mid-sized people when it came to fashion retail. Her experience on social media has been great especially because she has had people tell her how they related to her. Speaking about digital reach in this regard, she says that the power to use one’s voice is a big asset. “We need need more people from fashion to make modest clothing normal, too. There’s always something that requires a good change, a different approach when it comes to fashion, so we need to educate ourselves, and social media connects us to that.”
The push for size inclusivity
With actualisations and brands pushing for inclusivity, mid-size bodies are not just limited to their size of clothes but also fashionable and stylish choices available to them largely. Singhi, who holds an extensive experience in this regard, says: “If I am being 100 per cent honest, there is good availability of mid-size fashion now. Not just clothes but fashionable clothes are almost always available up to XL- 2XL. It’s the sizes that go beyond where the actual problem starts.” Singhi adds that while there’s a rise in mid-size models and creators on social media in terms of representations, there’s still a long way to go. “Big fashion brands are still apprehensive to bring plus-size models on board which is why they are playing it safe by bringing in mid-size models. Mid-size models are great. But don’t jump on the bandwagon of body positivity, if you can’t accept it unabashedly, completely and with the heart in the right place.”
Diksha Singhi, in a way, mirrors the change we’re talking about. As someone who made it on her own to become one of the most recognised and followed digital creators, Singhi pushes for this inclusivity by appreciating the development that has emerged in the past few years. “When we talk about inclusivity, I believe it should cater to making all sizes inclusive in representation and participation. There are so many new small brands coming up that are doing wonderful size-inclusive fashion and such initiatives should be appreciated in order to see more of them. Participation of all sizes is a major factor not in just body-positive campaigns but across fields. Social media enables us to pump all this and we definitely should,” says Singhi, who has proudly walked for several fashion shows in the past few years.
Why is inclusivity important
Research on girls as young as eight and nine years of age revealed that these kids have become vulnerable to poor body image. The data-based study indicated how homes, schools and societal institutions must act urgently in tackling this grave issue that has left young girls confused, and under-confident because they’re made to believe that women should be a certain way. Without genuine diversity movements and an honest representation of relatable, real and not image-conscious bodies, the fashion industry will once again contribute to growing children’s poor self-esteem.
The recent TikTok mid-size movement had diverse influencers participating in what can be called a revolutionary attempt at bringing forward a conversation around inclusivity. Influencers are comprehending that brands can no longer exclude them or ignore representation, and they are tapping into that. People across TikTok and Instagram have recently generated hashtags around mid-size fashion and women, and these tags have gone on to get millions of views, shares and traffic.
“On TikTok alone, the hashtag #midsize has more than 2.5 billion views. The women featured here are showcasing everything that it takes for them to stay true to their bodies and still be stylish in their way.”
On TikTok creators like Emily Lucy and Mary Skinner are spreading the message of normalising acceptance of mid-size bodies. On Instagram, creators Singhi, Sakshi Sindwani and Aayushi Badehka among others, are making content that speaks to the people authentically. The globally renowned platforms are now serving as influential ones too with digital creators making feel-good content that is strong relate to millions of women across the world.
Therefore, while we’re holding conversations around the same and learning to understand how women identify differently with body types and sizes, there’s a need for brands, too, to indulge in appropriate research and surveys that help them join the bandwagon for the greater good. I believe representation also begins with acceptance. Unless every family, every home and society at large don’t raise their children in an environment where they are loved and accepted for who they are and whatever size they identify with, we cannot entirely change. The acceptance has to be holistic and that’s when people will begin to choose their sense of fashion and stand out with their unique styles, not by what the generic age-old phenomenon decides for them.
The views expressed are the author’s own.
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