I know, I know… I shouldn’t expect much from someone who embraces the moniker of “The Body,” but seriously, Elle? Check out these gems from The Guardian’s interview today with the Australian fashion model-turned-lingerie designer:
Why has fashion alienated larger women?
It’s expensive to create the products. Perhaps larger women haven’t been as celebrated and therefore haven’t been interested in themselves, but today larger women, or all different body types, are celebrated.
Do you feel a responsibility to cater for all women?
I don’t feel responsible to cater for all women, but I do believe that as long as we have the expertise and the interest, it excites me to create lingerie for a different body type.
Elle has it totally backwards. Larger bodies used to be revered in the past and it is today that only a narrow aesthetic body type ideal –thin– is celebrated. And it’s not necessarily that larger women aren’t interested in fashion; it’s that fashion hasn’t been all that interested in them. Case in point: Amanda went to Macy’s in search of a size-16 cocktail dress and instead encountered a sales clerk who, in one brief exchange, “condescendingly call[ed] me fat, poor, and low class, insult[ed] all plus sized women in general, and [made] sweeping racist generalizations of ‘women of color’ being fat and poor.” While launching plus-size offerings would require an initial investment to upgrade sample sizes, purchase materials and create designs, the fact that more than more than 56 percent of American women wear a size -14 or higher indicates a hefty long-term return on investment. Just look at the Chris and Lucie Scholl. The entrepreneurial sisters, neither of whom are plus-size themselves, recognized that the growing plus-size market was being grossly neglected and suffering from a lack of stylish options. In 2000 they broke two cardinal rules of fashion: they exclusively offered fashionable plus-size clothes modeled by plus-size models who actually wear double-digits. Their gamble paid off –in eight years, their online boutique b & lu went from one order a day to bringing in almost $1 million annually last year. Just a few years ago, Igigi.com, another online plus-size shop, reported not being able to get enough fabric to keep up with customer demand. Fashion designers recently claimed a drop in plus-size sales as reason for dropping plus-size apparel –completely ignoring, apparently, the fact that there’s an economic RECESSION going on– but from 2001 to 2006, the $32 billion plus-size apparel market grew by a whopping 50 percent. The fact that many lines offer plus-size clothes online but not in brick-and-mortar stores indicates instead the true motivations behind their dearth, which have nothing to do with profits and everything to do with image.
For the record, Elle’s line of lingerie “celebrates” women with buxom bosoms but not buxom bottoms –max Elle line bra size is a well-endowed 38/G, but Elle panties only go up to a size 6.
But you shy away from the word “feminism”?
It’s one of those coined phrases that has a lot of innuendo and not much meaning these days. There’s a stereotypical perception that a feminist is somebody who believes in equal rights for men and women. Well, I believe men and women are different and they have different needs, therefore the concept of equal rights doesn’t really sit with me in many ways.
Newsflash to Elle: It’s not a stereotypical perception; it’s what feminism is. And it’s thanks to all those “stereotypical” feminists who fought for equal –not different– rights for women that you have been at all able to become the successful model and businesswoman you are today. You’re welcome.