There is not one standard definition of beauty or one perfect size.Ashley Graham
In the fashion industry, lack of diversity has always been a concerning topic. However, in the current digital age of social media, this issue is more apparent than ever. We are constantly exposed to outfit posts that all look very alike, which is often fuelled by something called ‘influencer marketing’. According to Forbes, “an influencer is someone who helps other people buy from you”.
Over the last few years, Instagram has really taken off. Research has shown that there are now at least 1 billion users of the platform each month. Although this is a whopping figure, most users aren’t happy when using the app due to the lack of/incorrect approach to diversity that they are exposed to in advertisement materials. A study conducted by Mintel found that “45% of women, and 50% of men feel that diversity in advertising does not feel sincere”. Evidently, this is a major issue in the world of fashion marketing and changes definitely need to be made.
Brands absolutely must cater for all different cultures, races, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities and body types now more than ever with the pressures of society making us feel like we all need to look a certain way, or be a certain weight.
One brand that successfully includes the aspect of diversity into their company is Missguided. They continuously preach about body confidence and how every body is beautiful. For example, their bio states: “Committed to empowering all. Inspiring self-confidence in mind, body & potential”. The firm also often posts images of stretch marks, which is a refreshing sight to see in between heavily edited fashion campaigns.
Quite often, when a brand uses the same style of model/influencer to market their clothing, this can negatively impact a consumer’s level of body confidence. For instance, when a user stumbles across a brand that uses a slim model in all of their campaigns, they could begin to look at themselves and think “oh I could never wear that, I don’t have the figure to pull it off”, or, “I need to get surgery so I can gain the confidence to wear that outfit”. All of these comparative thoughts are simply toxic and just weigh us down…no pun intended.
Consumers shouldn’t feel like they have to be a certain size in order to pull off a piece of clothing, it’s just not right. Clothing should be made to fit us, we shouldn’t have to fit the clothing. This is why the inclusion of all different body types must be taken into consideration throughout the whole process of a clothing line. From the design itself to the sizes that the item(s) is available in.
In my personal experience, I have come across some brands where I feel like I need to get an augmentation in order to be able to wear some of their pieces. This then affects me mentally and the whole process is just a negative cycle. Brands must break the cycle of showcasing ‘perfection’ on Instagram and begin to show that every body is worthy, beautiful and capable…flaws and all.
One influencer who really makes a mark on the diversity side of things is Ashley Graham. Ashley Graham is an American plus-size model who was the first ever size 16 model for Sports Illustrated. Graham stated that: “she had to work harder than everyone else because of her size” at the beginning of her fashion/modelling career. Despite this struggle, she is now a well established model. So, she uses her platform to spread the word about inclusion on a global scale.
One way Graham does this is through her Instagram movement called ‘#BeautyBeyondSize’. The incentive was introduced in 2018 and it aims to inspire consumers to be more body confident, and for beauty/fashion brands to use more plus-size models in their marketing materials.
Fast forward to 2020, and the hashtag now has over 585,000 posts on the platform, so she is definitely making an impact! As well as this, the supermodel has her own podcast called ‘Pretty Big Deal’ which started as a “way to bring the radical inclusivity that she advocates for in her fashion work to a broader audience”.
So, we all really need to take a leaf out of Ashley’s book and start embracing our beautifully unique bodies for what they are. Unfortunately, drastic change for the better in regards to diversity in influencer/model marketing isn’t going to happen overnight, however if we all keep demanding change for every different type of person out there, the impact will be tremendous, and the message to brands who are perhaps lacking a sense of diversity within their campaigns will be loud and clear. Now, let’s get out there and prove a point!