Short excerpts from models and brands on expanding the fringes of body-image expectations.
Photo courtesy of Fortnight Lingerie
When we think about treating ourselves after a long week of work or studying for finals, shopping is a gesture that often comes to mind. Unfortunately, sometimes a fun and exciting experience of buying something new can bring our spirits down.
The Canadian apparel market is worth over $27 billion, yet most fashion brands still have a limited size selection. For many of us, finding clothes that make us feel comfortable and confident is not easy. And we are constantly reminded of the fact. Clearly disinterested in my personal body positivity journey, Instagram ads push unsolicited, perfectly edited pictures of slim models with no stretch marks or body hair to my feed daily.
“Deep scars and years of healing”
Data released by the Canadian Women’s Health Network suggests that between 80 and 90 per cent of women and girls in Canada are unhappy with their appearance. The unrealistic beauty standards set by the media can often lead to harmful consequences: from excessive use of Photoshop to unhealthy dieting and eating disorders.
The unachievable idea of a flawless body harms the self-esteem of those women who want to buy clothes, as well as those who work to sell them.
Dina Roudman has been working as a model for over 14 years. "After years of being rejected and compared to thousands of women, it isn't easy to stay confident," she says. “It causes deep scars and takes years of healing. I'm learning to [overcome] it everyday and love my body more.”
Many models experience constant pressure to fit the ever-changing demands of the fashion industry. These changes come at the price of their physical and mental well-being.
“I had a meeting with Women in Paris, one of the biggest modelling agencies in the world. Then I was told by another agent I should go down 10 pounds if I really wanted to work. Being a healthy 29-year-old woman, it's hard to lose 10 pounds without actually having to really change your lifestyle and diet,” Roudman says. “Our bodies naturally change, and we have more curves as women.”
Western beauty ideals require women to be thin, tall, and fit. Tall and skinny models appear on most runaways, billboards and magazines. The lack of body inclusivity in the fashion industry promotes fatphobia, hatred and discrimination towards fat bodies within society.
While the fashion market only begins to challenge the status quo, a growing number of Canadian brands offer a wide size range and promote a healthy body image. So, if you are looking for a new bra, underwear, or a swimsuit made from long-lasting and ethical materials, here are three lingerie labels that are worth putting your money on.
Fortnight is a Toronto-based lingerie and swimwear brand that makes minimalistic and functional garments. The brand’s website features models of different sizes and body shapes to make the shopping experience more realistic. The founder of Fortnight, Christina Remenyi, says that they test all their products on real women and make adjustments based on their feedback.
“We’re always trying to tweak our pieces in order to best fit our customers,” Remenyi explains. If you are looking for a label that makes bras sized from A to G cup, Fortnight is a place to go.
In 2014 a speaker and self-love advocate Mary Young decided to “fill the gap in the intimates market” by creating a lingerie brand for different body types. MARY YOUNG makes lingerie, loungewear, and bodysuits in sizes XS to 2XL. The brand recognizes the importance of “keeping it real” by pushing models, who like any other living and breathing human being, have stretch marks, cellulite, and curves. Aside from fashion, MARY YOUNG also challenged the mainstream agenda by introducing the Self Love Club, an inclusive community that promotes empathy and self-care.
Azura Bay is an eco-friendly lingerie boutique founded by Ashley McIntosh. McIntosh says that she, like many other women, has a love/hate relationship with shopping. So she decided to bring together some incredible brands and create a one-stop online destination for undergarments and loungewear. Azura Bay is here to save your time by curating an easy-to-shop collection and endorse the natural beauty of female bodies.
The present and the future of body-inclusivity
The good news is that more and more brands are starting to challenge the norm and embrace positive body image. However, we still have a long way to go as many of us are not used to seeing a variety of body shapes and skin textures in clothing ads.
Dina Roudman is one of the models for the Fortnight garment collection. She says that her reaction to seeing un-retouched pictures of herself on a brand's website can go both ways.
“Sometimes we want to look perfect because that's what's been engraved into our heads: industry standards and the way we should look,” says Roudman. “With age, that's starting to change. I like my body and the skin I’m in more and more, so I love to see brands pushing boundaries and using real images.”
A wide size range and models with realistic body types help a brand to reach more people. Remenyi says they often receive positive feedback from customers who thank them for celebrating every aspect of human bodies.
“Many women cannot relate to the beauty standards that crowd the mainstream media and so, finally seeing the representation of authentic, diverse, unique women is very liberating and relieving,” says Remenyi.