Hannah & Gemma

Style Plus

Full Figured Fashion Week (FFFW) — where plus fashion takes a bow annually in New York — appears to be a romp that people enjoy far more than the traditional New York Fashion Week. And it’s sparking some fascinating discussion of the social order of body size. In a word, the order is changing.

According to The Fashion Spot, FFFW is more fun, more diverse, and pumped up with pride and solidarity — all while delivering a satisfying fashion experience. The New Yorker has one of its classic essays that goes on for pages examining the rapid changes in full-figured fashion. This phenomenon is moving with blinding speed.

Historically, plus size fashion has been anything but fashionable. It’s been conservative, basic, and slavishly obedient to unwritten rules for “fat-girl clothes.” No more. The fast-fashion movement spawned by retailers like H&M and Forever 21 has embraced full-figured fashion and forced other retailers to catch up. Online retailing and social media have played a role as well. In the six years of FFFW’s rise to prominence, fashion blogs with names proudly declaring their curves — Curvy Girl Chic, Curvy Fashionista — have grown in parallel to promote the movement.

Inevitably, this fashion movement brings out scolds and worse. Plus-size blogger Sarah Conley told The New Yorker, “Being really visible when you’re a plus-size woman is not for the faint of heart.” Lewd and misogynistic comments are all too common.

But the more insidious stuff tries to fly under the radar, rationalized as a health concern. “There’s a fine line between anti-body-shaming and obesity-glorification,” is a comment that typifies such reasoning. It’s a means to enforce the established order that assigns an inferior status to women of size. Kinitra Brooks of the University of Texas at San Antonio says, “That’s called concern-trolling. It’s another tool of control.”

Health is private. Fashion and body image are public. People who find themselves uncomfortable with assertive, full-figured fashion should ask themselves if bias lies at the root of their discomfort.

Click here to read more in The New Yorker.

Hannah & Gemma, photograph by Eddie Lawrance, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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