All of the women attending New York Fashion Week are beautiful, confident and well dressed. A small group of them are above a size six.
A few of these stylish and curvy women will land on your explore pages and in your weekly newsletters, but even more will be rendered invisible by photographers and publications pretending they don’t exist. It doesn’t matter what size you are, or where you live, fat problems are your problems.
“Evidence of obesity discrimination in the hiring process for employment,” was found in a 2016 study in the Frontiers in Psychology journal and another study by the Journal of Obesity Facts determined “evidence shows that the discrimination against obese employees leads to serious socioeconomic and psychosocial consequences.”
Those findings reflect real people. Plus size women experience discrimination in job interviews, int he healthcare system after being ignored by medical professionals who are more focused on the scale than their symptoms. It’s your daughters and nieces who have low-esteem because they feel like they need to keep up with the shape du jour.
They’re suffering because of biases that stem from a lack of representation. A 2017 study from the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education declared the average size of an American woman to be between a 16 and an 18 but you won’t see that this week.
Select members from the group posted outside of venues across the island of Manhattan will lower their Nikons, Cannons, and Sonys the second they see a larger body walk by.
No matter how well coordinated the pastel pants suit, cute the matching sunglasses, well styled the mini Telfar bag, or uniquely customized the facial covering it won’t matter because these photographers have been sent the message that the larger the body the less it matters.
I have witnessed the evidence of this first hand. In fact former HelloBeautiful style and beauty editor Danielle James took this on during her tenure and literally asked a photographer on the scene why they chose to celebrate some and ignore others.
Style influencer Essie Golden called this out recently in an Instagram post where she declared herself less than “excited,” by this season, Kelly Brown, founder of And I get Dressed, is fighting back with the hashtag #fatatfashionweek, and Transparent Black Girl founder Yasmine Jameelah recently reminded us of how far the industry has to go.
Weight discrimination is still legal in 49 states because we live in a culture that permits it. That means even those you might be tempted to shame about going to the doctor and the gym can be denied access to either place legally based on what they look like. One or two models walking in a high profile show is not enough to change these laws.
So how can you help? You can be intentional about the way you engage with plus-size people in the media you consume from the screen in your palm. Your voice, your clicks, your eyeballs matter. If you can’t think of one fat character on a show you watch, or an account you follow that isn’t the butt of a joke you can recognize that and try to change it.
You can remember that even if you think you are not impacted by discrimination and erasure of large bodies you are because someone you love is affected by weight stigma no matter what size they are. It’s a systemic problem that affects every aspect of our lives. And I really shouldn’t have to remind there are many
We need your help with this problem because fat Black girls didn’t create sizeism and we can’t fix it, without you.
Essie Golden, Maui Bigelow, Liris Crosse, Chastity Garner, Gabrielle Gregg, Danielle James, Danielle Young, Leah Vernon, Quan Michelle, Ariel Pierre-Louis, and many more women have been doing this work for years. They have brought us extremely far but they can not take us all the way.
People don’t listen to fat Black girls, (the identical cold shoulder tops sitting on shelves every season make that pretty clear.) In fact it wasn’t until after the retail apocalypse Leah Vernon that retailers even deigned to acknowledge that they needed our coins at all, so if there’s going to be a change it has to come from you.
You have to show for us even when there isn’t a retailer trying to remind us they exist by throwing us shapeless dresses in boring shades. You have to show up for us even when Lizzo’s beautiful face isn’t full of tears. You have to show up for us because we can’t finish the job alone.