I know there has been some brou-ha going on lately about this issue. Truthfully, I haven’t read any of it – because it’s such a moldy-oldie issue. So, if it’s so moldy-oldie, why do I choose to write about it? Because I think the issue is more about the fat community than the clothing industry.
My personal feelings about thin models selling fat clothing is that it is offensive. I feel like the vendor is treating me like I am so stupid I don’t know that the clothes draping on the willowy model are going to look significantly different on me.
However, in the past, Lane Giant and others have done experiments of running ads with fat models and ads with thin models and the ads with the thin models always create more sales.
So while I know that clothes are going to look different on my fat body, the sales numbers have led the companies to believe in general folks in the fat community do not know this. Or that fat people so hate their own fat bodies, that they don’t want to buy something that a fat woman is wearing. Either way – how sad is that?
Until we learn to look at fat bodies (others and our own) and see beauty – we are going to have issues (conscious or not) buying clothes that are modeled on fat bodies. And you can’t blame the clothing industry for doing what is necessary to sell the most of their product.
If you have ever been to a NAAFA Convention, you will know that one of the most joyful events is the fashion show. NAAFA members model clothing for the vendors attending the convention. I have participated in several of these fashion shows, and I have to tell you I love it. I also love being out in the audience during the fashion shows. Onstage or not, there is such a pure joy in seeing fat people wearing beautiful clothing, feeling good about themselves, and knowing that they are being admired and appreciated. And lots of clothing gets sold in the process.
Some print catalogues do use fat models, and a few even use super-size models. Online, you have a greater chance of seeing clothing modeled by fat and super-size models. But these are smaller companies and often they cannot compete with the big companies when it comes to pricing; making it more difficult for the fat community to support them.
So even if you object to the use of thin models, your personal circumstances may leave you with little choice; and I don’t want to berate anyone for doing what they feel is best for themselves. We all have to make choices and pick the battles we can or want to fight. Hell, I order from Lane Giant (or Woman Within as it’s now called – are they referring to that thin woman inside of me that is supposedly screaming to get out? Well if she exists, she can STFU), because sometimes I can’t justify paying $80 for a pair of slacks modeled by a fat woman, when I can get the same thing for $30 modeled by a thin woman. Do I feel torn about it? Sure. I want to support fat-positive companies, and my husband will confirm that I do (way more than he would like at times) So we all do what we can do, when we can.
I much prefer that vendors who sell to fat people use fat people to market their product; and we’re making a little headway. But again until fat people put their money where their fat is and stop giving those vendors business, it’s not likely to happen.
And as a footnote, I don’t want to totally dis on the companies like Lane Giant – they were here first! If you are an oldster like me, you can remember the joy when the first Lane Giant store came to your local mall! Holy crap. A store where all the clothes fit YOU! And the clothes were cute too. So there is a level of loyalty to them because they saved me (and maybe you) from those awful old lady clothes which was what I had to wear before because there were no other choices. And now there is Torrid and Avenues – but Lane Bryant (there I said it) led the way – much to their profit, but they still led the way.