The human race has learned to evolve culturally over time. Each generation focuses on topics that spark great debate and slow, but generally positive progression. From the most fundamental discussions around basic human rights and racial and gender equality to LGBT rights that have dominated headlines in the past decade, our evolution to improve the human experience never stops.
What is also quietly taking place although less in the public eye is the ideal around beauty; its forms and norms. The fashion industry has generally escaped criticism in its continued use of thin models on the runway and in ad campaigns. It’s amazing what a multi-billion dollar industry can influence when it essentially dictates what are considered (aspirational) attributes that define human beauty. That power has shaped not only economies but how societies operate. But given that the average size of the American female is a size 14, any progression that brings society’s mindset closer to that reality is not only healthy, but is needed. And from a pure economics perspective, imagine what a makeover to this already $18 billion plus-size apparel industry could look like.
While most of us have turned a blind eye, some industry insiders (and outsiders) have taken things into their own hands to begin changing society’s perspective on this topic. Back in December, New York fashion photographer Victoria Janashvili who regularly shoots for GQ, Maxim, Esquire and Cosmopolitan, decided to publish a coffee table book entitled Curves, to highlight the beauty of women with more normal bodies. She started a Kickstarter campaign to get her book published.
Not only have photographers embraced the so-called ‘body size movement;’ models like Ashley Graham are leading the pack in this revolution. Modelling for numerous campaigns including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, Graham’s voluptuous size 16 body is now gracing the pages of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in a racy ad entitled #curvesinbikinis by Swimsuits for All.
Most of us are aware that Marilyn Monroe, in today’s society, would be considered what the industry calls a "plus-size model." With the addition of more recent faces like Kate Upton, Robyn Lawley and Candice Huffine, these beautiful women are beginning to not only turn heads but also society’s mindset of what ideal beauty should be. I'd personally like to see society progress even further to stop the categorization and simply appreciate them as 'models.'