Body representation in the fashion industry
Models are a major part of the fashion industry, almost every fashion brand in existence uses models to promote their products whether that be on runway or in campaigns. As a result of this, the fashion Industry is having a direct effect on the self-esteem and too often mental health of young girls. This is due to the lack of representation of female body image in terms of size and shape. Unfortunately, the industry is currently failing to reflect our vastly diverse population with the most commonly cast model being slim or even underweight. For example, during Fashion week in 2017 only 1.13% of models cast across all four major cities (Milan, Paris, London and New York) were ‘Plus-Size’. Considering the diversity of body size across the world, there is an obvious emphasis on a thin physique (The Fashion Spot, 2017). There is a proven correlation between the media’s representation of women with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. (Tiggemann and Polivy, 2010) The overexposure to extreme body types is clearly having negative impacts on consumers, “many young women to internalise and embrace the sociocultural thin ideal and, in turn motivate them to attain it” (Thomsen, Weber and Brown, 2002:2). This suggests that the fashion industry has a moral responsibility to be more inclusive and move away from their stereotypical model. An adaption in how fashion products are promoted could significantly benefit society and how they perceive the female body, therefore it is definitely an issue worth highlighting. An example of a brand that has taken the inclusive approach are Dove. Rather than using the stereotypically thin model they opt to use ‘real women’ within their advertising. Their ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’ in 2004 was extremely successful with 1.5 million people visiting the Dove website in order to engage with the tick box feature of the campaign, showing that consumers respond well to this form of promotion. (Bahadur, 2014).
Bahadur, N. (2014) ‘Dove 'Real Beauty' Campaign Turns 10: How A Brand Tried To Change The Conversation About Female Beauty.’ Huffington Post. [Online] 21st January. [Accessed on 4th April 2019] real-beauty-campaign-turns-10_n_4575940.html
The Fashion Spot. (2017) Diversity Report: Landmark Gains for Nonwhite, Transgender and Plus- Size Models on the Spring 2018 Runways. October 2017. [Online] [Accessed on 1st April 2019] https://www.thefashionspot.com/runway-news/768143-runway- diversity-report-spring-2018/
Thomsen, S. Weber, M. and Brown, L. (2002) ‘The relationship between reading beauty and fashion magazines and the use of pathogenic dieting methods among adolescent females.’ Adolescence, 37(145) pp. 1- 18
Tiggemann, M. and Polivy, J. (2010) ‘Upward and Downward: Social Comparison Processing of Thin Idealized Media Images.’ Psychology of Women Quarterly, [Online] [Accessed on 23rd September 2019] DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2010.01581.x
Victoria Secret. (2014) Perfect Body Campaign [Online image] [Accessed 24th September 2019] 10?r=US&IR=T