It is a well known fact that the fashion industry and the film and television industries have always equated beauty with thinness. In recent years, people within the ‘plus-sized’ community have been raising awareness about body positivity, a movement that encourages people to adopt more forgiving and affirming attitudes towards their bodies, with the goal of improving overall health and well-being. The movement is not only about working out and striving to be positive and creating a better lifestyle for oneself, but deals with health as well. People involved with this movement challenge themselves daily to learn how to grow and love themselves to the fullest.
A 2015 study conducted by NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service found that the percentage of women in the U.S. who shop ‘plus-size’ categories is 17% of the overall U.S. women’s apparel market. That number will have increased since that time as sales in the plus-size market increased 5% in the 12 months ending February 2105 to US$19.8 billion and 3% in the 12 months ending February 2016 to US$20.4 billion. The NPD study also showed that the percentage of U.S. teens shopping for plus-size clothing has increased from 19% in 2012 to 34% in 2015.
What this means is that there is an underserved need for women and teens to see healthy and positive images of themselves, regardless of their size, reflected in the media. In addition, women who choose careers in the fashion and beauty industries need to have access and exposure to the same opportunities as their size 2 counterparts.
According to Alysse Dalessandro, independent size-inclusive designer of Ready To Stare, “...accepting a size 12 (fashion) model doesn’t help a size 28 woman find a pair of jeans.” Dalessandro worries that fashion brands aren’t listening to their plus-sized customers. “They tell us that plus-sized models should be aspirational. We don’t want that... If you are going to call something ‘body positive’ then you should use all bodies.”
One woman who is shaping the conversation here in Toronto is Josiane Laure Modjom, also known as Malia Indigo (pictured above). Indigo believes that fashion professionals are faced with many barriers including rejection, lack of opportunities and lack of exposure. Through her platform maliaindigo.com, and the recently launched campaign, #plusvisibility, she is providing models, designers, make-up artists (MUAs), and other related professionals, a showcase to market their services and products. According to Indigo “The purpose of the campaign is to demonstrate the positive impact when we come together as a complementary community.”
The campaign features local models: Malia Indigo, Ophilia Alleyne, Pascale Ramalingum (pictured above), Elizabeth Ankomah, Sirene Qureshi, Susan Tamasi and Sheila Lopez (from the U.S.) and is currently running from May 15th to June 5th.
Maliaindigo.com Be reachable. Be visible. Be your own agent. #plusvisibility