Among the many demands on the fashion industry to change, a call for a body diversity revolution is one of the loudest
British Vogue was the latest to call attention to the issue, with its Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Shulman revealing that brands "flatly refused" to dress plus-size model Ashley Graham for its cover issue. “It seems strange to me that while the rest of the world is desperate for fashion to embrace broader definitions of physical beauty, some of our most famous fashion brands appear to be travelling in the opposite — and, in my opinion, unwise — direction,” she writes.
Let's put the moral high ground and the platitudes about everyone being beautiful to the side for a sec. The fact remains that aspiration and scarcity will always be key elements of fashion. The high aspiration-factor is what stirs emotion in people and justifies the high price points. That moment when the average fashion consumer looks at an image and says "I want to be that". As stunning as Graham's facial features are, women are not going to look at her in a larger size Chanel and think 'I want to be that'. This isn't about shaming anyone, it's about acknowledging that all women aspire to be better versions of themselves. There's a reason why the a $701 billion dollar health & wellness industry is a $701 billion dollar industry. And it's not just about mindfulness and feeling good in your skin - it's about the whole shebang - the toning, the definition, the glow.
We as a society are very much confirming this, by buying the juices, supplements, lotions, and hitting the HIIT and the gym and the reformer and everything else. Women's magazines know this better than anyone else, with their endless click-bait articles about Adriana Lima's favorite smoothies and how to get Angel abs. Considering the odd cries about body diversity, the level of hypocrisy is somewhat astounding. We can't have it both ways.
Scarcity begets value. It's easy to be a normal or larger size, but thinner women are scarce, and then this is what makes their look "aspirational". This is also why luxury products are aspirational. If you democratise fashion, it will lose its appeal and the justification to charge these prices. As alas, it's not just about the craftsmanship and a well-made dress. It's aspiration.