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Curving a new era: Plus Size Fashion

An untapped subject can sometimes receive negative feedback, due to the lack of knowledge about the matter. Controversy is the foundation of change: if there were only one opinion in the world, the notion of change and progress would not exist. When a demand is created, the economy armors itself to pursue this need and to provide it. Only, in the matter I am about to introduce, it took quite some time for it to be present in our daily lives of mass media and consumerism.
In a young woman’s life, adolescence is a very critical and fragile period. Some go through it quite smoothly, without any complaints, social headaches, self-esteem problems or existential issues. The biological aspect of changes she goes through triggers many issues of physical self-doubting, nervousness and introversion. Her figure is her principal interface toward society; therefore confidence is key for a young woman to assume herself and accept her body. Yet, this self-assurance is not provided by the media, as it continuously sets women on the pursuit of ridiculously utopian sizes and measurements. Figures vary, just as eye color does, from one individual to another. In this society that is whirling in diet pills, plastic surgery and materialism, being curvy, large or busty is synonymous to being an outcast. Social rejection is cruel: It is a skinny pretentious culture that rewards anorexia instead of good health. On one hand, Media & Advertising are one of the antagonists in this progression of thought. Yet on the other hand, the market started out as an enemy, but soon became somewhat of a supporter. I haven’t clarified the nature of my case yet, so here it is: full-figured women and fashion.
Speaking from experience, I struggled during my adolescence, as I was a big and tall girl, compared to my peers. The biggest challenge was trying to stay trendy, stylish and up-to-date while the market was purely model-figure-oriented. Going shopping was an agony! Since big sizes weren’t really available, I had to shop in the women’s section, which in the nineties was an utter catastrophe in terms of style. I looked older than I really was! I am sure many women out there went through the same situation when they were young. Being different has always brought forth debate, whether in religion, race or nationality. Some people find it difficult to accept difference and be tolerant thereof. Not to mention, a lot of issues, such as bullying, occur throughout school years, which can gradually shatter one’s self-esteem. These layers of negative feedback are more proof of a discriminating society. However, when I speak of full-figured women, I do not encourage obesity; on the contrary, good health is essential. Many women lead a healthy lifestyle but have — for example — curvy assets. This doesn’t mean that she is obese or overweight. Preaching the wrong kind of messages will shatter my credibility and my aim in introducing this movement. In any case, times have changed and a new movement has emerged from the fashion industry: “Plus Size Fashion”. Basically, it is a term given to fashion that is proportioned to sizes going from UK size 14 and above. Initially, many fashion designers were appalled by this terminology and the existence of such fashion frenzy. They thought it was just a phase and it would lose its agitation eventually. They underestimated a majority that has been long in the shadows, trying to fit in a world that has skinny models and actresses as icons. Well, no more. This movement is rising strong; it is not only hitting the shops but also magazine covers and catwalks.
I have been aware of this movement but only recently has it made its big BANG! The Internet is a wondrous power: I have been following Plus Size Fashion Women Bloggers online for quite some time now and it is mind-blowing. It is a community that is growing rapidly. Thanks to social networks, bloggers and their fans and followers can discuss common issues, stories, fashion tips, and plus size fashion brands, while posting outfits of the day as inspiration to others. However, my concern is that there hasn’t been such positive activity in the Arab World. Are we too preoccupied with becoming plastic dolls with puffed-up lips, in high heels and tight clothes? Are we embarrassed to stay natural, no matter what size or shape we are? Is being a curvy woman a humiliation or reason for exclusion? It is sad that many women aren’t comfortable in their own skin and have no sense of personal identity. Beauty has taken a fatal detour and the “curvi-licious” women have come to set their part of beauty back on the right track. It is not wrong to demand a decent fashion line that accommodates certain larger sizes. It is not wrong for a big or curvy woman to feel beautiful. It is not wrong for her to dress in trendy clothes. It is wrong to undermine this topic and to take it as some obnoxious feministic talk. It is absolutely wrong to give mocking looks or statements to people, in general, no matter how different they are. Tolerance and respect are values that need to be applied more strictly and I think our Arab region lacks this — at all levels.
Plus-size fashion has found its way through the market mostly in the West, but it is serving the cause of those who accept their curves and cherish their beauty, all over the world — thanks to online shopping. It is not picture-perfect just yet, but efforts are being made for a smooth incorporation of this fashion line. The acknowledgment of this topic in the Arab world is one of my big goals. Spreading the word, having a vessel that reaches as many women as possible who feel involved, and supporting the plus-size fashion movement compose my strong beliefs in this matter. Finally, I think a first step would be to start a community: Fashion and Beauty Bloggers, Facebook Groups, etc… So what do you, our readers, think?

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