As the fashion industry continues to evolve every day, many choose to overlook or even neglect the media’s impact on our society’s perception of body image through upcoming trends. As this industry proceeds to glorify certain body types, it instills a detrimental mindset among younger generations about “perfect” and “ideal” body types, essentially creating a shallow perception of beauty.
For decades, as trends have continued to emerge and fade, the concept of fashion has continuously been correlated with those who are skinny or fit under the ideal standards for body type. These styles and trends have gradually become more accessible to the general population throughout the years, pushing companies to provide clothing accustomed to a broader variety of people. However, decades before this change, the industry often displayed trends to the public through a narrow lens of celebrities and models on magazine covers, television shows and advertisements. At this time, several famous fashion brands catered most of their items for those with a “model” body type, making a large number of trends and pieces inaccessible to the common populace.
Nevertheless, progressive changes have been brought to this industry today with significant impacts on our society, but there is still a long way to go. Now, more fashion brands cater to a broader range of body types with a greater diversity of styles and an overall improvement in available clothing choices, all of which were limited in the fashion industry’s earlier years. While these strides are made, there is still rare diversity in the body types displayed at upper-level fashion runways and shows. For a permanent change to be made, it is essential to understand the underlying reason explaining why the industry is still flawed. Looking beneath the surface, we see that society has readily accepted the ideal body portrayed by the media and targeted fashion trends for years. Yet, most of the population doesn’t even fall under this perceived ‘standard’ body type. The source of this issue is the fashion industry itself, and those who control it often choose to turn a blind eye.
Said designer Tom Ford in an interview with Harper Baazar, “In today’s world, models are a standard size. You make your collection and the girls come in, they put them on, if they don’t fit the clothes, they don’t get the job.” Ford continues, “[The] practicality of it is, you have a sample collection […] It’s all the same size and girls need to fit into that if they want to model.”
Furthermore, there are numerous instances of double standards present in fashion that have exhibited biases towards certain body types. For example, in past decades, baggy clothing (mom jeans, loose graphic tees and large shoes/sneakers) was generally looked down upon, particularly when worn by larger body types. Now, with current evolving trends, when relatively skinner, “ideal” body types wear similar clothing, it is perceived as an aesthetic, oftentimes ending up on Pinterest. Additionally, society today continues to judge others based on whether or not they believe that one’s style serves their body type. Several examples include Best Dressed and Worst Dressed lists at celebrity events, where people wearing the same outfit can be, and have been, judged differently solely based on how individual body types suited the same outfits.
When considering the damaging effects of the fashion business on younger generations, one can trace it back to how this industry has gradually sculpted ideas of standard body types and the specifications that come with being a model from an extremely young age. As a whole, society has been driven to believe that one must adhere to certain standards to be considered “beautiful.” Everything from TV shows, pageants, fairy tales, novels, movies, magazines and everyday media have all contributed to creating this skewed perception.
Despite these deep-rooted issues, there is still hope for further change as celebrities and influencers, such as Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion and Demi Lovato, are pushing the movement for body positivity. These figures use their platforms to express the importance of body acceptance to younger generations and empower them to make lasting impacts in the fashion industry and society in their lives as well.
To continue this movement in fostering positive body image in the community around you, start by making small changes through recognizing acts or perceptions of bias towards body image around you. Challenge how society views ideal appearance and size while promoting the acceptance of all bodies, including how people choose to express themselves. Help others around you build confidence in themselves, and don’t be afraid to address viewpoints on unrealistic body standards. Every small change counts in making a difference in tackling this deep-rooted issue and brings us one step closer to reshaping the fashion industry.