One size fits all, pigs really can fly and Trump didn’t win the election. Actually, one size fits few, pigs still can’t fly and the new U.S. budget has a Toupee Clause.
It’s long been debated that perhaps the fashion industry’s greatest flaw is the zero epidemic. The size zero has become the golden standard for the American woman, despite the impossibility and risk it poses.
Fashion of the late 1960s brought us Twiggy, revolutionizer of supermodel status, but also the harsh ideals of female body size (not to blame Twiggy). Models like Kate Moss followed suit in promoting the trend and the overwhelming popularity of their zero-zero frames created an undeniable expectation for the next generation of women.
Among the many implications and concerns behind the epidemic, body dysmorphia is a disorder that often manifests itself into anorexia nervosa and bulimia out of an obsessive desire to change appearance due to perceived ugliness. Those suffering from it often lock themselves away and avoid all social interaction out of severe sense of physical inadequacy. The disorder affects 1 in 50 people and most women affected are preoccupied with their hips and weight.
A recent survey asked teen girls: if they could have anything, what it would be? The number one answer was to lose weight and keep it off. Yet the size zero models who are looked to as the standard of beauty are on average 13-19 percent under their expected body mass index — 15 percent under a normal body weight meets the criteria for anorexia nervosa. Between the pages of underweight models are dieting and weight loss ads, enforcing these unattainable standards.
Yet as the decades went by, reality contradicted the ideal. The average female body size grew farther and farther away from what was once considered the “perfect body.” And while average women grew in weight, models continued to get thinner, generating a wider and more terrifying gap that women starve themselves to cross.
In 1966, Twiggy was actually an eight according to universal sizing measurements. Today she would measure in at a zero-zero. This so called “vanity sizing” — arbitrary swell in sizing measurements to accommodate larger body sizes — manipulates self-esteem, not to mention ruins online shopping. But clothing companies found women were psychologically compelled to buy clothing with a smaller size, explaining the surge in vanity sizing. The universal sizing chart has been rendered meaningless all to be closer to a size zero.
To further convince girls of their dysmorhpia-favored body sizing, front running companies sell “one size fits all.” For most brands, like Brandy Melville, “one size fits all” measurements line up with a zero on universal charts and tend to fit girls within the range of small, exclusively. For few, the fitting room is a rewarding experience. But every other woman is guaranteed a traumatic fitting room experience finding she is somehow the outlier of the word “all.”
High fashion especially makes little effort to represent all sizes or even a healthy body image and the inclusion of plus sized shows is thought of as an accommodating gesture rather than the norm. Besides lacking racial diversity, size diversity is even sparser on the runway. Designers like Marc Jacob and Sophie Theallet featured plus size models in their latest collections — yet the feature of a singular plus sized model among so many zeroes almost seemed demoralizing to plus sized women by promoting the distorted mindset that they are somehow the outliers.
Leaders of the fashion industry cite a number of reasons for failing to represent the plus sized majority. Some designers simply don’t want to, claiming their target will never be the size 12 and up since skinny will forever be the look. Karl Lagerfeld put it simply saying: “No one wants to see curvy women.”
Mentor Tim Gunn refuted these ideas in a recent article for The Washington Post slamming the notion that curvier women are at fault for the lack of clothing in circulation for their figures. The market for plus sized clothing is booming with potential and eager spenders. In fewer words, Gunn accused designers of not having any balls. It’s as if it never occurred to them they’re still designing for women of decades past. But progress is in the works and the hope is that one day the fashion industry will settle on body image ideals inclusive for all women.