Looking at my curves, it probably will not come as a shock that I don’t really follow the fashion fads-to-be during fashion weeks in Milan and Paris, for size 0-2 twiggy figures. The only reason fashion week is even on my radar is thanks to an interview I heard recently with Tim Gunn on NPR. Tim Gunn, of Project Runway fame, and fashion expert extraordinaire, was railing against the fashion industry. The theme of his rant – wait for it – “It’s a disgrace designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women”. Now, I’m not a fashion blogger (and I met more than a few at last week’s blogging conference), but this headline grabbed my attention.
He cites a Washington State University study indicating the average size American woman now wears between a size 16 and 18. There are 100 million plus size women in America (although I do not understand why women have not revolted against designations such as “plus sized women”. There is no such comparable label for sizes on the other end of the spectrum. What would that designation be- minus sizes?) Googling the question- “What is the average dress size for women?” – the response is size 14, 140 pounds. Gunn says this is 2004 data and is no longer accurate. “Far more women in this country wear a size 16 than a size 6, but the industry seems not to have noticed.” Gunn argues there is money to be made to the tune of $20 billion, but…
“Many designers, dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or too cowardly to take a risk- still refuse to make clothes for this 100 million strong demographic.”
The selection of + size 12 clothing in stores such as Nordstrom (8.5%) and J.C. Penney’s (16%) is paltry compared to the varied selection for size 2 figures. Nike.com shows only five items. I guess curvy women are not expected to dress well. I guess curvy women aren’t allowed the opportunity to experience the confidence a well-fitted article of clothing affords. While I found this interview fascinating, as I write this post, I’m furious. (Sometimes I don’t know what I truly think until I write it down). What message does this convey? Society’s definition of beauty is a size 2 female? Seriously? I don’t want my 18 month old granddaughter growing up with this definition. And, the issue goes beyond being insulting and humiliating. The New York City Girls Project is tackling the issue of girl’s self esteem and body image. Their site notes:
Over 80% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat, and, by middle school, 40-70% of girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body. The goal of this initiative is to help girls believe their value comes from their character, skills, and attributes, not appearance.
I hope there is a climate change on this issue. I do appreciate someone like Tim Gunn getting out front on this issue. BBLB, as I’ve noted in previous blogs, advocates bravery. I think it took courage for Tim Gunn to criticize his fashion family. And to do it so publicly on NPR and in the Washington Post takes guts. To be sure, his friends in the fashion industry are not happy with him. But I am.