Clearly, we still have work to do on the body positivity front.
2016 has definitely been the year of Ashley Graham, and with good reason. The famously body positive model, advocate and the face of the #beautybeyondsize movement got her own Barbie last month, was featured on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover, and landed her first Vogue cover. Graham is also featured in British Vogue's January issue, which hit stands earlier this week. In the mag, Editor-in- Chief Alexandra Shulman let readers in on a disheartening fact about something that happened behind-the-scenes of their gorgeous shoot with Graham. When magazines photograph celebs for their covers, designers usually lend samples of their latest collection for the celeb to wear. But apparently, some designers Vogue reached out to for clothes to dress Graham straight out refused.
"The shoot was put together fairly last-minute and we are all very grateful to the people at Coach who, under the creative direction of Stuart Vevers, moved speedily to provide clothes for us that had to come from outside their sample range," explained Shulman, according to the Daily Mail. While Graham might not fit into a standard runway sample, brands sometimes have commercial samples they can pull from that are larger, or have the ability to borrow larger-sized pieces from their current stock. From what Shulman says, it sounds like Coach may have created new samples of upcoming styles especially for Graham in her size, which we think is incredibly awesome. "They were enthusiastic about dressing a woman who is not a standard model, but sadly there were other houses that flatly refused to lend us their clothes," she continued. Not. Cool.
Considering that Graham is one of the biggest names in the fashion world right now (the girl has 2.7 million Instagram followers), it's pretty shocking that designers would pass up an opportunity like this. As Shulman points out, for years many have been calling for the fashion world to be more inclusive. While many designers claim that they are, this would have been the perfect opportunity to prove it. "It seems strange to me that while the rest of the world is desperate for fashion to embrace broader definitions of physical beauty, some of our most famous fashion brands appear to be traveling in the opposite—and, in my opinion, unwise—direction," she said. We couldn't agree more. (Check out our interview with Graham to steal her go-to workout for keeping her curves tight, plus how she really feels about being labeled 'plus-size'.)
More than anything, this incident is proof that even though the mainstream media is becoming more accepting of bodies of all shapes and sizes, there's still a lot more work to be done. In 2015, Americans spent over $13.5 billion on cosmetic plastic surgery—more than had ever been spent before. Clearly, there are unrealistic standards that a huge number of people are still trying to live up to. (Here, find more on the body positive movement's evolution.)
In any case, Graham doesn't seem to be too concerned about who is and isn't willing to dress her, nor is she interested in trying to fit into sample sizes. In the interview with BV, she says: "Do I sometimes wish I were thinner? God, in the old days, absolutely I did, but now I feel that to lose weight would be disloyal to myself. A lot of who I am is connected to my size, and I am so happy with who I am." To that, we say more power to her.