Riding the Plus Size wave
Urban men with a waist greater than 36 have never had trouble finding fashionable clothes. A slight paunch or man-boobs never have interfered with them wearing an Armani or an Abercrombie & Fitch. However, apparel companies are still reluctant to allocate store realty to plus-sized women’s clothing.
It is society which has created a stereotype of an impractical thinness making it synonymous with sexy. But, in reality sexuality has very little to do with how a woman looks. More important than looks is the strength of her character and how she feels about herself. If you look at it, the glamorization of size zero is fairly recent. The Greek goddess of love Aphrodite is a voluptuous woman who, judging by her expressions is proud of her sexuality.
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There is a lot more to a woman than her figure, and if a woman wants to look in vogue, I believe she should have every chance to do so. In fact, I feel voluptuous women are more attractive. I observe most oversized women to be jolly and with an incredible zest for life. They talk a lot and are extremely friendly. We feel that clothes look better on slim and ‘fit’ women. This is because of our conditioning. We have been made to believe, through society, media and medicine companies, that slim is healthy, whereas the facts suggest otherwise. Some women are naturally thin and some try too hard to gain size zero.
The latter are always found to be insecure about their looks. They eat less, workout incessantly, still always feeling overweight. Contrast this to overweight women who are comfortable with the way they look and carry themselves confidently enough to attract eager eyes. This proves that self-image is always psychosomatic. I feel confident and secure if I feel I look good. Self-Esteem is very subjective and depends on how a woman feels about herself and not how others feel about her.
Americans are growing bigger and already 62% of women are categorized overweight(cited in Los Angeles Time, March 1, 2009)The average weight of an adult female is now an unprecedented 163 pounds (cited in IHRSA/ASD Obesity/Weight Control Report: 2004). This means that a majority of women in America are ‘plus-size’. Earlier, plus-sized women had no option other than getting their clothes stitched by the local tailor. But Alas! Our neighborhood tailor is no Ralph Lauren. HeHe cannot provide expert advice on the ever-changing trends in fashion. Nor can he suggest appropriate clothing for different body types. This was aggravated by the lack of available choices in the readymade and designer apparel markets. Companies like Lane Bryant have done a good job of making the people realize that nice clothes provide a feel good factor. When a woman wears stylish clothes, she feels she looks good and this gives her a positive self-image. She feels happy and a happy person always looks good.
Clothing companies have off late realized that figures other than the typical 36-24-36 hourglass figure do exist. Stylists and fashion designers have started thinking about figures like a pear shape or an apple shape. Voluptuous women want to choose from a wide variety of apparel and not just a section reserved for them tucked away in a corner so small they cannot even walk comfortably. They now demand a wide range of clothing which is as in vogue and the junior sized clothes. It is good news that Apparel companies have effectively addressed this niche market. But more needs to be done.
Apparel companies have a responsibility of creating awareness that voluptuous women do look beautiful if styled well. This can be done with effective marketing. Sales people at apparel stores can double up as style consultants for oversized women. Billboards, TV advertisements can help in conveying the thought to the target market. It is the largest niche market still not properly tapped. It needs to be understood that a slight flab is no abnormality. Media is basically a reflection of the reality and it seems to agree with the growing number of ads featuring women (of all sizes) as confident as any. They are achievers and in leadership positions.
Today they have money and they want to spend it on themselves. They want to look as fashionable as their slimmer counterparts. Both these categories exist and quite normally. A slight flab is finally ‘in’. Armani and Seven Jeans, among others, are now offering plus-size lines. Though it is a fast growing trend, it is still not catching up with the ever-increasing demand.