Last week, Nike revealed their new plus-sized mannequins in the UK to much controversy when Telegraph journalist Tanya Gold referred to the mannequin as immense, gargantuan, vast and heaves with fat. It was shocking. It was horribly written. It was disgusting. But, it has ignited a new set of fire amongst women. Nike is taking a stand and making steps towards showcasing what real bodies look like. This was proven by the thousands of actors, influencers and every day women who posted photos of what our bodies look like as well as those of us who proudly went through liking and commenting. I was brought to tears to see our community of healthy, beautiful, inspiring women posting their stories.
We need more brands to showcase women of all shapes, sizes and stages of life! Designers should feel pride in being able to see how incredible their designs look on a wide variety of women. We, as consumers need to promote healthy habits and support those who are advocating for change. What does a runner look like really? Nike is getting credit for changing their merchandising strategy. I applaud them for taking a stance. However, they still only cover to a D cup and a 44 band. 70% of women in the US are above a D cup now and a 44 band is the equivalent of about a size 14 dress. Is this really plus size? According to Plunkett Research, about 68% of American women are a size 14 or over
To quote influencer and body positivity advocate Lexi Nimmo,
I'll keep this short because I know the internet is already ablaze with fiery posts written by body positivity advocates like myself. But let's get one thing perfectly clear. YOU DON'T KNOW ME. Don't you dare take one look at my body and try to re-write my story. This body is strong, capable, and worthy. This fat body has endured abuse, survived trauma, healed itself, and continues to carry me through my journey. Fat people can't run? Oh honey, running is the least interesting ability this fat body has! But for the record I can run! I can dance, love, explore, create, fight. I can do absolutely whatever I want to! Don't you dare put me in a box. Or her. Or him. Or any of us!"
I am pretty sure I am on the IG most-wanted list. At one point, I counted 7 bathing suit ads out of 10 posts that I was viewing. I have never bought anything from IG, I was not in the market for a bathing suit and not one of the brands could fit my size. They all seemed to blend with the same 20-something girl having the time of her life. Sometimes, she is black, sometimes white, hair is always blowing. One brand that stood out offers 2 - 22. However, they only showcased the size 2 women. Plus, if you clicked on the larger sizes, it was always out of stock. As a business owner, this made me so curious. Were they taking pre-orders, testing the concept of larger, or just super popular? So I opened up the comments. There were dozens of women asking the same questions in a very open format forcing the brand to eventually pull the ad replacing it with one showcasing a wider range of body types. On one hand, that infuriated me because put your money where your mouth is. I have zero love for Victoria's Secret but they did not falsify who they were targeting and with what messaging. On the other hand, it showed me the power of the communities pulling together giving the brand the feedback and push to make the change.
The only way we will see real change will be through our pocketbooks. In 2015, the plus-size apparel segment was one of the fastest growing online fashion markets, valued over $20 Million reporting over 19 percent sales growth. However, while the average U.S. consumer spends 934 dollars per year on non-plus-size clothing, buyers of plus-size clothing only spend about 637 dollars per year on clothing, on average according to Statista. It is my belief that it goes beyond changing mannequins - although that does help. It goes beyond having celebrating our diversity showcasing models in ads. If your product looks and feels good on all sizes, that is a huge win. We need more brands to put focus on creating quality products that better represent our changing and diverse bodies.