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The Great Size Debate: Kate Upton and Robyn Lawley

December 07, 2013 4 min read

From an outside view, the Fashion Industry looks just like the garments they sell; gleaming, beaded, beautiful, a higher class.  Others might even go so far as to say that it is comprised solely of creative minds that are above such trifles like a bottom line, cost, taxes, and the ever dropping confidence in the world wide economy.  In no way, shape, or form is that the case.  The Fashion Industry is as tied to the business world as the stock brokers on Wall Street.  They exist to sell product in the most attractive, shiny, and most appealing packaging possible. What has sold in the world of fashion has sold on the back streets of the world for thousands of years.  Sex.  Overt and covert images that prick desire and the ever elusive feeling that buying such a piece might also buy some of that sexiness.  The only quirk in the industry is the ever surmounting debate over what constitutes beauty, who determines the ideal body type, why must society only have emaciated models to look at? 271878 Most recently two models have found themselves at the center of this debate and have struggled to determine the best way to straddle the business world and personal views.  Kate Upton has skyrocketed to fame in the fashion world, even famously saying herself that she never dreamed that she would be a high fashion model.  She is blatantly upfront about her body and that she does watch her diet and works out with a vengeance.  Almost as if saying to the public that the distorted view that maintains a fantastic figure with no work is absurd. kate-upton-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-cover-2013
  ‘This year’s Sports Illustrated cover—a shot of her in Antarctica, parka open to reveal a stunning breadth of cleavage—set off a fresh round of “Is she fat?” conversations across the Internet. “It was hard at first,” [Upton] admits of hearing such rumblings. “You sit there and you’re like ‘Is something wrong with me?’ ” But she’s learned to ignore her critics—and come to regard her healthy body as a point of pride. “The things that they’re rejecting are things that I can’t change. I can’t change my bra size. They’re natural! I can work out and I can stay healthy and motivated, but I can’t change some things. I really just live my life. I love my body. It’s what God gave me! I feel confident with myself, and if that inspires other women to feel confident with their bodies, great.”’ (NyMag)  
article-2500484-02D448A000000514-824_634x887 142652-robyn-lawley Another model to have found herself in this new position is Robyn Lawley, who the International Business Times has gone on to say that along with others is “Revolutionizing Fashion one Curve at a Time.”  Their article highlights the changes that Diana Von Furstenburg as the head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has been spearheading.  While Kate has been relatively quiet about her feelings about the “real women” campaigns, Robyn has not.  Kate seeks to change the norms by breaking stereotypes and doing shoots “curvy” women wouldn’t normally get hired for.  Robyn has been famously outspoken and has even come to be deemed the face of plus size models. The Huffington Post quoted her saying,
“It's disappointing as I love catwalk modeling, it's more exciting than being on a shoot so it sucks not to be included. Plus-size models are being used more in magazines and in the media but not on the runway and not by high-end designers like Prada.  I'd love them to use more curvy girls but it's like a taboo and I don't know why.  It screams lack of diversity.  It doesn't send out a good message to teenager girls who are impressionable. They're not coat hangers, they're girls and it's bad for them to only see skinny frames on the catwalk. I hope I can be a strong role model for them but there's not enough of us plus-size models."
While Robyn’s statements are accurate - the sentiment is off.  Couture designers aren’t using plus size models not because of some taboo but because it is currently not what is selling on the market.  Robyn rails against an industry whose back is made up of the sales of clothes, jewelry, and shoes to women who want a slice of perfection for themselves. It would do absolutely no good for a personal trainer to say “well I workout all the time, but I don’t want to watch my diet and insist its not necessary in an industry of health and fitness.” Changing the Fashion Industry’s view of the “ideal” human body has never been an easy process and certainly it has never faced the idea that all women should be considered beautiful and that clothes might be made to flatter them all.  It is perhaps Kate Upton’s strategy of breaking down the barriers through talent and ability that will pave the way for the other “curvy girls.”  While no one will fully agree with the make up of the Fashion Industry or the images it perpetuates, it is only through accepting reality and taking down the walls brick by brick will the walls come down.

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