I’m going to go ahead and file this under “what the fuck.”
I recently saw an ad on the subway featuring Madewell’s new “curvy” jeans and was instantly psyched. I went to the site and there were exactly three pairs of pants that went from sizes 23-35. The incredibly small selection was disappointing (the brand is known for their denim, after all) but even worse? All the jeans were modeled by size 0 models.
When you click on the pair of jeans, the first image you see is one of an extremely slender white woman rocking the jeans. If you click through all the images, there seems to be one of a slightly curvier girl, but she can’t be more than a size 8 or 10 at best.
This is unbelievably disgraceful. There are a ton of amazing plus models they could have hired to show off the jeans, including body positive activists Tess Holliday, Ashley Graham, and Barbie Ferreira (who recently helped launch Forever21’s plus line).
And considering that the body positivity movement is stronger than ever, you’d think that Madewell would be a little more sensitive, or at the very least, a little more aware.
Madewell is certainly not the first mainstream brand to fuck up the whole plus-size thing.
Two years ago, H&M chose the wonderfully talented Ashley Graham for a campaign. The problem? They weren’t actually offering plus-sizes in store (Ashley is typically a size 14). Then there was Athletica, who, like Madewell, chose not to use plus-size models to show off the plus-size clothes. And then there was the worst one of all: Wish.com used straight-sized models to showcase plus-size tights by standing in them and stretching them around their bodies. Um, who approved that campaign?
The problem is that these brands want to get in on the plus-size market but don’t want to actually use plus-size models. They want the money and the customers, but they don’t want to commit to the movement. If they truly believed that big is beautiful, then why wouldn’t they want curvy models to wear their clothes?
This is an ongoing problem in fashion. It’s hard enough just to get fashion brands to even sell plus-size clothing, let alone use plus models. Even the most famous celebrities like OITNB’s Danielle Brooks and SNL’s Leslie Jones have problems finding high-fashion designers to dress them for the red carpet, despite the fact that they will be photographed and seen by millions.
It’s time for the body positive movement to evolve past the internet and into the real world. And in the meantime, we’ll keep giving our business to Torrid, Eloquii, and Premme, aka brands that actually cater to fat women.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.