When people think of Fashion Week in New York, the stereotype that typically comes to mind involves emaciated Kate-Moss-esque women strutting down runways. This year, however, it seems plus-size women will finally see some likeness of themselves at the popular Manhattan event. For the first time in Fashion Week history, there will be an exclusively Plus Size runway show. Prominent plus-size models, including Tocarra Jones and Lizzie Miller, will strut down the runway in New York wearing dozens of fashions designed by the popular plus-size company One-Stop Plus.
This comes on the heels of intense public outcry at the London Fashion Week regarding their refusal to ban emaciated size 0 models, despite the fact that mental health experts have long warned that the poor example set by super-skinny models can be damaging to young women’s self-esteem. Psychologists and nutritionists point their fingers at ultra thin models as some of the most powerful triggers for conditions like anorexia, bulimia, yo-yo dieting, poor/skewed body image, among adolescent women.
Thus, many are considering the inclusion of a plus-size fashion show in New York’s Fashion Week a victory for “real” women, proving those with curves can be as alluring as their skeletal counterparts. Nancy Le Winter, editorial director at OneStopPlus.com, calls the move to include plus-size fashion at the New York show “fashion democracy at its best.” Galina Monaco, a designer with the company, believes that the move for inclusion is helping to create “the ‘new golden age’ for plus-size fashion.”
Is this really a sign that the Golden Age of a Fashion Democracy has dawned, though? First of all, one needs to recognize that this is a single runway show, featuring size 14+ models. Super-skinny counterparts from major fashion houses will be strutting down the runway at Lincoln Center in as many as twelve shows per day. When one considers the fact that plus-size is a demographic that comprises two thirds of American women, a single runways show over the course of New York’s entire Fashion week appears to be a bit of a gyp to some.
On the one hand, women with realistic bodies, wearing high-fashion in a manner that makes it relevant to “normal” Americans is clearly a step towards diversifying the fashion industry. On the other hand, some have made the point that by promoting plus size models, obesity is essentially being condoned as acceptable. They make the point that plus-size models are no different than super-skinny models… A bad example.
Obesity, and the many health issues that tend to be associated with it, has been on the rise in America and Western Culture on the whole for years now. Obviously, this is why the Plus Size demographic has become more accessible within fashion culture. Diabetes, hypertension, and dozens of other diseases are all associated with excessive body weights.
Others still contend that the single show is merely a novelty/niche show. They feel that One-Stop Plus is not “high fashion” of the same caliber the major fashion houses produce and therefore they don’t deserve a spot at one of the most major Fashion Weeks in the world.
Whether you look at it as a small step towards diversity, a triumph for plus-size women, a bad example, or a mere novelty this year plus-size will finally have an opportunity to strut their stuff at New York’s Fashion Week. The plus-size runway show will take place at The Atrium in Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, on September 15th.