Fashion power is not size-ist

Models have always been thin and tall because clothes look better on them.

Damien Woolnough, please.

The simple fact is that clothes look better on beautiful, slender young women.

Georgina Safe, please.

The Myer Big is Beautiful fashion parade for Fashion Festival Sydney.  Photo: danimezza.com

The Myer Big is Beautiful fashion parade for Fashion Festival Sydney. Photo: danimezza.com

HOW on earth do you define better?

Have you ever taken a woman shopping for clothes, stood in the change room with them as they poked and prodded bits of their bodies they didn’t like?

Have you ever sought out and found a dress, a top or a pair of jeans that makes the same woman forget about the prodding, brings a spark to her eyes and makes her confidence outwardly soar?

I have.

It’s in those moments that I truly realise the power of fashion.  And it’s not size-ist.

This is the industry at its coal face. Actual customers in stores. Buying.

Seeking out a new work outfit, a dress for their daughter’s wedding or a whole new wardrobe to reflect their new lifestyle.

These are not women who have gawked at six foot tall glamazons strutting down a catwalk and thought, gee, I might “aspire” to wear that garment because I SO can imagine how it will look on me.

Not on your front-row fashion life.

You want to know what these women are REALLY thinking?

There’s absolutely NO way I can wear that.

The fashion industry is so far up its collective, non-existent bum that it’s completely lost sight of what it is there to do: sell clothes.

And guess what? It’s not only size 6 women who want to buy clothes either.

Last time I looked, ALL women were keen to put on some form of clothing each time they stepped out the door.

And most women I know actually want to feel good about themselves in those same clothes.

Which is why I will always be a champion of labels which make fashionable clothing accessible to women of all shapes and sizes – from petite through to voluptuous.

Who says that just because you are a certain shape or size that you should be excluded from embracing the latest trends?

No, not every trend will suit every person but dressing to disguise the bits you’d rather hide and flaunt the bits you’d like to put on show is the key to a confident style, no matter if you’re a size 8 or 18; a 4 or 24.

That’s not something inspired by a catwalk show. It’s something that comes from “playing” in a change room and having the confidence to try something new.

(It’s why I post regular Model and Me posts, to help my readers see how a garment looks on someone other than a size 6. I don’t say I look better than the model, just different.)

The more fashion labels that embrace this concept and offer on-trend styles for everyone, the better the choice and competition within an industry that over the past three years has seriously suffered from buyers’ remorse.

It’s not about arguing about the apparent health of a catwalk model.  It’s about instilling a confidence in a woman that may otherwise prevent her from leading her best possible life.

Hats off to you Leona Edmiston and to these labels I featured recently on my blog.  And kudos to models such as Robyn Lawley, Ljubenka Milunovic and Fiona Falkiner for offering more Australian women the chance to “imagine” themselves in a current fashion look.

Ignore the industry naysayers and keep delivering what women of Australia are looking for – accessible fashion for all.

The new Leona + label as part of the Myer Big is Beautiful parade for Sydney Fashion Festival.  Photo: danimezza.com

The new Leona + label as part of the Myer Big is Beautiful parade for Sydney Fashion Festival. Photo: danimezza.com

Fiona Falkiner for Myer Big is Beautiful parade, Sydney Fashion Festival. Photo: danimezza.com

Fiona Falkiner for Myer Big is Beautiful parade, Sydney Fashion Festival. Photo: danimezza.com

Robyn Lawley for Myer's Big is Beautiful parade, Sydney Fashion Festival. Photo: danimezza.com

Robyn Lawley for Myer Big is Beautiful parade, Sydney Fashion Festival. Photo: danimezza.com

Disclosure: I am a size 14-16 average height Australian woman who’s always been fashion obsessed.  I eat a diet that is healthy and balanced. Balanced by a champagne or three on a Friday night, that is. My thyroid is out of whack giving me the metabolism of a slug my but my cholesterol levels are perfect. I love walking and bad dancing to ’80s and ’90s music but an intense gym program makes me sick – literally.  In my job as a personal stylist, I’ve helped women from size 6 to 26 find their individual style and feel fabulous about it.

——————————————————————————–

Post update: BELLA model management’s director Chelsea Bonner responds to The Australian Newspaper obesity claims at the Myer Big is Beautiful show.

Organizers of the Myer Big is Beautiful show on Tuesday August 23 booked 13 professional models from Bella Model Management to appear in their show. All models provided by the agency are in their healthy weight range, as is agency policy of providing healthy realistic sized models from size 10 to size 18. 

No model represented by Bella Model Management is classified “obese” by any Australian health standard testing tool and all models must be healthy to be considered for representation by Bella Model Management. Of course, the BMI tool has varying results as muscle mass and bone structure must be taken into account, and our models who wear a size 16 to 18 are over 6ft tall where common sense is also applied. 

We have models who are personal trainers, rock climbers, pilate’s instructors and marathon runners who may not rate minimum BMI results yet are clearly in amazing shape.

Model Tara Laughton – size 16 –  whose photograph has run alongside these obesity headlines in many publications,  is one of our fittest models, having a resting heart rate of 55bpm she competed in the Sydney City To Surf 14km run on August 14 finishing in 156 minutes. It is totally irresponsible that her image be held up as an unreasonable ideal of women’s health.

We a greatly concerned about obesity as we are about emaciation. We represent models who reflect the 80% of Australian women who exist between these extremes and we are passionate advocates for women’s health and self esteem.

The remaining women included in the event were not professional models but everyday women who won the exciting opportunity to walk along side professional models – plus size models – during the show. This opportunity was offered as a part of a prize by Myer Department Stores’ Big Is Beautiful competition which was open to all women sized between 16 and 24 and is representitive of the main customer of this department store.

To use the word “obese” to describe any of the women involved in Tuesday’s show, professional model or competition winner,  without having the statistics of each is ignorant, and a blatant attempt to cash in on the “controversy currency” and grab headlines.  An ill-informed position usually reserved for more sensationalist publications.  

We are proud of all of our healthy realistic sized models who walked in the show, and are especially proud of the “everyday women” competition winners who joined them. These everyday mums, teachers and students showed tremendous courage to do something they are completely untrained for –  to a women of any size would have been overwhelming challenge.

——————————————————————————–

Thanks to blogger and photographer Danimezza for her fab photos from the Myer Big is Beautiful parade at this week’s Sydney Fashion Festival, which ignited this whole commentary.

For more on this subject, head on over to and read this brilliant post on Sugar Coat It:  There are no REAL women. Just WOMEN.

Regular Fab Friday programming will be back next week.  I was just too fired up to ignore this.  What do you think?

 

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  • Catherine Yarham

    Hi Nikki
    I found your blog through the Myer facebook page & love it! I’ve added it to my Facebook page.
    I’m currently a size 18 – 22 (171cm and wear an 18F bra. Shopping for clothes, especially office clothes is a nightmare, especially if you want to wear a suit that is not black. I love the Leona Edminston dress and am so glad that she’s making even larger sizes – her size 6 fitted me but just looked ridiculous because of where the seams fell on my boobs. I used to fit into some size 18 clothes in Sportscraft and Jaqui E (and the ones I have still fit) but lately they have been making clothes that are extremely fitted.
    Just noticed that Crikey have run an article about the Australian misquoting one of the models in the plus size (hate that term!) Myer show. http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/09/02/myer-big-is-beautiful-model-controversy/
    Thank you for your blog and I hope I can go shopping with you some day!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Lovely to see you here Catherine and yes, I’m an even bigger fan of Leona Edmiston now. Make sure you check out my post this week about bras for bigger cup sizes.

  • dianne

    Wow you certainly picked a great topic for discussion here Nikki. I think clothing retailers need to get back to fundamental marketing rules. Decide on their target demographic & promote to sell to that area of the market. There’s no point putting a teen size 6 in an outfit you want a 40 + woman to buy. Marketing is supposed to be to make us want to buy…. I think we’ve all had enough of falsely represented products. PhotoShop in mags is the other gripe I have with the fashion industry. Thanks Nikki for speaking up.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Hear, hear, Dianne. Yes, we’ve all had enough. Time for the industry to do some focus groups I think. Could start with all the women who’ve commented on this post!

  • http://morethanamummy.blogspot.com/ Jacki

    I love fashion and I love seeing women looking stylish – regardless of their size. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting things that flatter my shape and I find it so frustrating when ‘plus sizes’ are just so daggy. But I recently bought a Leona + dress from Myer for a function and I’m in love. It was stylish, comfortable and it actually suited my pear-shape! Go Leona! And thanks for shedding some light on this Nikki.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Hi Jacki, that’s wonderful to hear. Really glad you found a dress that you LOVE! Makes such a difference, doesn’t it?

  • Luci

    I’m not sure I’m daring enough to write this but, I understand where the likes of Damien and Georgina are coming from. Firstly, both of their pieces were critical of the clothes that were put on the models, criticising that there should be more creative and simply, better ways of dressing curves and the likes.

    I’ve read some of the comments on here saying 2% of the population at sixe 6-8 and I have to put my hand up and disagree with that! At the moment there seems to be a harsh battle between those under a size 10 and the rest of the world. IF we’re going to get into stats, then over over 1/2 the nation are considered obese. Yes people are big boned, which has long been used as the excuse to be be big. But many of the size 8s around (yes myself included) have quick metabolisms. There is a fine line between healthy and not, especially when you take into account anyone who is slightly larger… Plus size models (as much as I too hate the term), are sometimes overweight. That sends the same message about weight as it does sending the size 4 girl down the catwalk- thats its ok to not be healthy. IT’s not.

    Clothes have been put on models for years- idolised figures to send the message of how great their clothes on, hoping peers will idolise their designs. They will look just as hot and gorgeous on the next girl (whatever size she is), but I think it’s the rest of the world taking each fashion show to pieces that is reading too much into it all…

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Hi Luci
      Thanks for commenting. I’m actually very particular in my article that I’m not size-ist. I’ve worked with size 6s who’ve had bits they’ve wanted to hide and flaunt.
      I think the health argument does have a place but not from a fashion commentator – it should be from a GP. And that’s whether the person is a size 4 or 14 or whatever.
      Yes, we’ve long idolised clothes and how they look on models but most people struggle to make the connect between what they see on the catwalk and what they could actually wear themselves – once again, I’ve seen that with all sizes.

  • http://www.maxabellaloves.blogspot.com Maxabella

    Hoo f’ing ray! It irritates me that we have to have posts like this one, but no one could have said it better, Nikki.

    It absolutely embarrassing that Bella felt they needed to respond about the healthy weight range of their models like that. To be honest, that is putting them in the same class as the underweight model debate and that irritates me too. The assumption is that just because a woman is size 14 – 18 she is ‘fat’ and ‘obese’. Ridiculous, especially as models are often over 180cm tall. A size 16 on a 150cm woman is a very different thing to on a 180cm woman.

    Blah, blah, blah. It’s not about the stats. These models look absolutely gorgeous and prove that it’s not about the stats.

    x

    PS – I need that one shouldered black dress!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      As I said above the only real commentator on someone’s health should be their GP, not a fashion journalist. And that really does apply to whatever sized person is on the runway.

  • http://www.wherethefairieslive.com Sif

    I’m 5’3″ and a size 20-22. I mostly eskew mainstream fashion because my tastes lie elsewhere. I was hugely excited to find the HolyClothing label of clothes which markets itself at women wearing clothing between sizes 16 and 30. It’s a bonus that the clothes are made ethically in India and don’t cost with world! I wearing HolyClothing almost exclusively, even though I have to buy it online. The internet is making it so much easier for people of all sizes to vote with their credit and debit cards! Hopefully that will change how designers view the wearing public. I mean, it doesn’t really take a lot of skill to make a 6ft, size 10 model look great in a dress – they should show us just how creative and skilful they really can be!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Hi Sif – thanks for the tip off about HolyClothing. And yes, I agree re the online shopping bit (and so do Styling You readers based on the post I did yesterday. (Link below).

  • http://www.sequinsandsand.com.au Anita McLachaln

    Don’t get me going! How much space and time have we got?
    Absolutely bloody brilliant Nikki!! Love this: “It’s not about arguing about the apparent health of a catwalk model. It’s about instilling a confidence in a woman that may otherwise prevent her from leading her best possible life.”
    Confidence is everything and that is what we in the ‘fashion game’ should all be in the business of doing…boosting womens’ confidence. In my experience, women of all shapes and sizes have often hidden confidence issues. Everything flows from having self confidence. It’s why I love what I do…my business’s reason for being. Customers tell us every week how they never thought that they could ever look great on the beach (again). When they discover that they can, they are so grateful and relieved. Some emails have brought me to tears. This is real. Women don’t often talk about it, but it’s very much there. Stop the plus size rot and give women what they want…and more importantly, need. Let’s keep the discussions going. I live for the day that we drop the term ‘plus size’ and just get on with it.
    Thanks Nikki.
    http://www.sequinsandsand.com.au/read/1081/stop-plus-size-rot-just-give.html

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      You can take all the space you need. And you may have noticed I don’t use the term plus-size at all. Hate it. It’s subjective and non inclusive. We are all women!

  • http://Claireyhewitt.blogspot.com Claireyh

    I really want that Leona dress. I even buy my girls Little Leona, Devine dresses. Someone told me my five year old is overweight a couple of weeks ago. I nearly punched him in the face. You can see her on my blog and in Instagram, I am pretty sure it is not my mothers protective instinct saying she is average, I am more sure that society expects all females, even kinder kids to be scrawny and thin.

    • http://theclampetts.blogspot.com/ Ellie

      Oh Claire(y) I want to punch him in the face. From the pictures I have seen she is just a normal little girl, what a twat he is.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      I’m lining up for a punch up too. This is a world gone mad. Oh, and I love the Little Leona range. Just gorgeous x

  • http://robecriluto.com Beet

    I think you’ve said everything I think on the matter very well. I pay no attention at all to anything that comes off a runway. At size 24 there is no possible way any of it would look good on me. I don’t buy fashion mags or keep up with any of that. But I do subscribe to email newsletters from certain stores that use realistically sized models and offer stylish clothes in sizes that will fit (and hopefully flatter) me. The fashion industry would do well to remember that while it may dictate the trends, it still has to sell it’s products to average sized people who are looking for clothing to suit their needs, their bodies and their lives – not the body of some stick-like waif on the catwalk.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Sounds like you’re switched on to how to play the fashion industry at its own game. I too subscribe to the stores that I know will generally stock clothes that I can work to suit me. Makes it easier all round.

  • http://thebestbeautyblog.com Ling

    Beauty comes in all sizes! Appreciate fashion from size 2 to 22. Love this post Nikki!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Absolutely Ling – appreciate the beauty in yourself – and in others!

  • http://www.theveggiemama.com vegge mama

    This isn’t going to be a popular sentiment, but hopefully I’ve come into this late enough so most people won’t see it – but I am incredibly thin and even I have trouble finding clothes that flatter my shape. I am at least four different sizes when it comes to boobs, waist, hips and thighs. I can never just waltz in to a store and come out with a haul of clothes that are a perfect fit. So I don’t think we can blindly assume that fashion should solely revolve around size. That beautiful girl they keep posting next to the “obese” headlines sounds about 100 times more fit and healthy than me, so it is irresponsible of the pundits to hold these girls up as something we should strive to avoid being. Clothes are there for everyone, and we can dress to enhance our bodies rather than obediently follow fashion. Well done you Nikki for reminding us all that fashion isn’t about size, it’s about making every body feel great in their own way.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      You’re a beautiful, drop dead gorgeous example of the craziness of the fashion industry.

      • http://www.theveggiemama.com veggie mama

        And you are the best person I can think of to bring attention to this issue <3

    • http://www.mummyautobiography.blogspot.com Miss Pink

      You just wrote, quite nicely, what I have been thinking and attempting to blog about all afternoon.
      I have so much trouble getting clothes to fit too.
      Thank you xx

      • http://www.theveggiemama.com veggie mama

        I was thinking of you when I wrote this too, as I had just read your post on being skinny and nodded along with it all. Oh the stories I could share!

  • http://www.beautyamongsttheweeds.blogspot Mary

    Nikki – the number of comments alone indicate what a chord you have struck with us all – and the content of the comments confirms it.

    I am only very slowly starting to embrace the size I am now ( in my head for a long time I am still 5 feet ten and a size 12) which is comfortably an 18. I discovered Nicola Waite a few years ago ( especially at sale time) and have found that she creates lovely clothes for women my size.

    When I move to Sydney and when you are down visiting the lovelyl Mrs Woog I would love to have you take me shopping!

    Thank you for this post – your beautiful face is matched by your heart.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Hi Mary, I love Nicola Waite – great designs with a unique style and something for all!

    • http://www.woogsworld.com Mrs Woog

      My Mum comes into Sydney just to visit Nicola Waite’s shop in Paddo. Excellent brand x

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

        Love your mum.

  • http://carlyfindlay.blogspot.com Carly Findlay

    Great post Nikki. Fashion designers and stores need to take note of what women want and feel comfortable wearing. There is such a diversity of shapes, sizes and heights, and fashion should cater for this.

    I would also like to see a greater representation of people with disabilities in the fashion industry. Have you seen Britain’s Next Top Missing Model? It is the search for a model with a disability.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      No I haven’t Carly but I think it would get more people thinking. And create less of a dis-connect between the fashion industry and consumers.

  • http://mummydi-alogue.blogspot.com/ Diana

    Finally I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. As a size 16-18 with a G bust and short torso, I’ve always struggled to find clothes that flatter rather than overwhelm my shape. Hunting for an outfit to wear to my sister’s upcoming wedding was a nightmare.

    A wonderful post Nikki. I can’t believe its taken me this long to find you!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Diana, I’m glad you’ve found me too!

  • http://www.verily.com.au Leonie Macleod

    Verily will increasing the size range from 8-20 in some of the most popular styles. I love to make women feel confidante, comfortable and beautiful inside and out in my clothing. For some reason boutiques only buy up to a 14 or 16 so you may have to shop online. I would love to hear what women are looking for, so I can design with curvy girls in mind.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Leonie, that’s wonderful news. Your label is amazing for making women feel good (it makes me feel good when I wear it).

    • http://www.insideoutstyleblog.com Imogen Lamport

      Verily’s clothes are great – Leonie designs for lots of different body shapes rather than the one catwalk body which is why they look great on me and you.

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

        That’s so true, Imogen. How lucky am I having her just up the road from me!

  • Somer

    U have written a very intelligent response to an absurd topic. Thank goodness!! I was sick of reading crap from people who have no clue. You are correct in all you say. Very well written.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks so much – it is an absurd topic and it’s got me fired up.

  • http://www.athomemum.com Bronwyn

    Thanks Nikki for a great post. I would have to agree with you 100%.

    For I don’t know how long I have not been that interested in the fashion industry or fashion because, to be honest, I just didn’t think it had any interest in women that look like me. I am also 14-16 in size. I could lose some weight and have been working on things to achieve that. But my health and well being are my business and shouldn’t be an issue when I am purchasing clothes. I don’t know why it needs to be so hard but I think everyone, no matter what their weight or health situation, deserve to be able to buy and enjoy fashion that make and look them feel good.

    From a business perspective also I just don’t understand the fashion industry most of the time. In what other industry does a business go out of their way to alienate the consumer as a selling technique. IMHO I just think they design clothes for their super-slim models and then just add extra material for the larger sizes on the shelves. And from my position as the consumer, I don’t really care about the perspective of the designers, whether clothes look better or worse on a slim model. I am the consumer and I am buying. I want to have something that looks good on me not Jennifer Hawkins or Miranda Kerr.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      You are spot on – and the customer is sick of being alienated. I think this has been particularly noticeable over the past three years when most people have had less money to spend. Customers are showing their disdain for a size-ist industry by not buying at all – or very little.

  • http://www.mumisphere.com Jillian

    Great article. I often wonder who the catwalks are catering towards. Finally we get to see some “real” women. x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      It seems they’re catering to an industry minority – from buyers to media commentators. It’s about time consumers had equal say.

  • http://www.mummyautobiography.blogspot.com Miss Pink

    I actually dismiss a lot of clothing because it all looks too baggy and saggy on slim models.
    I prefer to see it on a model with a little more curve. And i’m actually a slim woman. Slim women can still have curves and flabby bits, and there is nothing attractive about a bit of fabric just hanging off of a body. It doesn’t sell the item at all.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Exactly – it doesn’t matter what your size, there is no “perfect” shape. You just want to feel the best you can by choosing clothes that help to achieve that. x

  • http://parentingcontroversy.com Cecilia @ Parenting Controversy

    I wholeheartedly agree that the fashion industry is so far up its collective ass that it’s lost sight of what it is there to do – sell clothes.

    These photos of plus sized women give me a CLEAR picture of what these garments are likely to look like on me and THAT is what will inspire me to buy them. Seeing them on walking coat hangers just makes me nervous about how the garment would translate onto my curvy body.

    PS: I’m sooooooooo excited to learn of the new Leona + label!!! Yay!!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      One of my readers, Maxabella, commented on a Model and Me post about how great it would be for a fashion company to work with a group of women (from size 6-through to the label’s size range) and show what the same garment looked like on a range of people. I’d be super excited to be a part of that.

      • http://parentingcontroversy.com Cecilia @ Parenting Controversy

        That’s a fantastic idea and I would be too. Perhaps we should extend this conversation to Twitter in an effort to get relevant brands to hear what their customers REALLY want from them.

  • http://www.getinthehotspot.com/ Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    I agree. We all have body issues (thanks to the media probably). I love seeing these gorgeous women dressing boldly and walking proud. They look gorgeous. Especially hat lady:)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      They do all look gorgeous. Yes, I don’t think mainstream media helps in upholding a “one size fits all” model for fashion and celebrity coverage.

  • Paula

    Well said, Nikki.

    As someone who is a, shall we say, enthusiastic fashion consumer, I buy from a range of labels. I try to support Australian designers and when I shop, I’m looking for quality and long-term wearability.

    That said, I have EVERY size from a size 8 top to a size 16 dress in my current wardrobe – and they all fit. Fashion industry, I love you, but you have some serious issues – and its not the models that are the problem…

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Yes, my “enthusiastic” fashion friend, the size issue is another one I need to have my say on. I too have every size from 10-16 in my wardrobe – and they all fit.

  • Adrienne

    How wonderful to read this!! I have just been sitting in a waiting room and reading the article on the same thing in the Womens Weekly and thinking…about time! Thank you for your wonderful quote and description of the fashion industry! I am a size 16 – 18 depending on the garment and also what stage of my life I am at and am so totally sick of going into shops and being embarrassed when asking do you have a bigger size….then the young thing behind the counter goes …no we only go up to 14! Even in target a few weeks ago I notice that I couldn’t buy anything form the Hot Options section ( which I would like to purchase from ) as it stops at a size 16. They are so arrogant that they think they can herd women like a bunch of overweight sheep into their “bigger garment ” sections where they sell flowery hideous stuff that looks like your grandmother!!
    I also have a beautiful tall slim daughter who at the age of 9 could no longer purchase anything from the Pumpkin Patch range and though she is only 13 she has to buy womens size 10 -14 depending on the label. She is going to push 6 feet at maturity I think and thankfully she is standing tall and proud and not rounding her shoulders to hide her full bust shape. SO sad to think that according to the fashion industry she is already too big for their sad and pasty,waify looking clotheshangers that they show their clothes off on!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Adrienne, you have two ends of the spectrum there – and it just goes to highlight the yawning gaps between the consumer and the fashion industry that need to be looked out. Perhaps through the power of social media, more messages like this will get out to the decision makers.

      • Adrienne

        Yes Nikki….definitely two ends of the spectrum…and where do I get my self loathing from when I am trying on clothes???? From being the same shape as my daughter and absorbing all their toxic messages since that tender age! I get so depressed when looking at clothes that I invariably end up going home without anything ….their loss LOL

        • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

          We all have that soundtrack playing in our heads. Try and devote a particular time to focus on shopping for yourself – no other distractions, including that internal soundtrack.

          • Adrienne

            Am unable to shop much at the moment due to health reasons but I will be and thanks for the tip!!! I just read the offending article by Damien…. couldn’t believe some of the responses! People are actually saying that 10 -14 are the only acceptable sizes… so a size 16 is considered unhealthy????? What planet do these people live on? I can understand the concern that some of the plus sized models may have health problems but cant help feeling that it is more about the author and his followers having a natural revulsion at having to see the “unacceptable” in their eyes :(

            • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

              I also think it’s not on for commentators to judge a person’s health on how they look. Unless they are that person’s GP, they don’t know anything.

  • Dawn Clayton

    Hi Nikki,

    Loved your post,such an important issue. I can really relate to your comment about a woman’s confidence soaring when she tries out the right garment.

    Fitting women everyday who are all shapes and sizes really brings home the importance of accepting your beautiful self for who and what you are. We are all shapes and sizes and all very ‘real’. I love working in an environment where women can look and feel fabulous and find garments that enhance and work with what they have. I also fit many so called ‘skinny’ ladies who are also as concious about their body as more voluptuous ladies.

    The point is that we can all look and, more importantly, feel fabulous when we work with what we have. I went to a lingerie fair for D Cup and up models last year and the ‘plus size’ models were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

    thanks, Dawnx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Dawn, what you offer in your lingerie store is priceless. For big-busted women (of all back sizes!), they have place where they can start to look their best because what’s underneath is working for them.

  • http://www.hummingbirdssong.com Rhi @ Hummingbird’s Song

    Nikki, I just wanted to say that I love your style. Even though you’re so supportive of the plus sized industry, not once to do you attack or belittle those of us who are size 8, and who have our own fashion woes (which I wrote about here http://www.hummingbirdssong.com/2011/03/shapes-and-body.html). You’re about about inclusion, not exclusion. You and Suger Coat It rock xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Rhi, that’s because I’ve been privileged to work with women of all shapes and sizes. Where once I would have thought a size 6 or 8 woman had it made in the fashion world, I now know this is not the case. There’s no such thing as a perfect body (and our minds don’t help with that) but we should all have access to clothes that have the potential to make us feel the best we possibly can.

  • http://www.likestowrite.com Ann Paterson

    Yay, Nikki! Your critique of the industry is spot on and it’s so refreshing to see models who actually are bigger than normal (mind you, who isn’t?). I get so annoyed when the fashion industry congratualtes itself on using ‘bigger models’ when they’re usually just a tall size 10. Well done.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      I struggle with the word “normal” – we should celebrate women because they’re women – and give them clothes choices to suit their size, style, height and shape. Yes, there’s a lot to be done!

  • http://boredomaboundsbyjulia.blogspot.com Julia @ Boredom Abounds

    I just hate that anything over a size 12 or 14 is considered “big”, when it’s the average size of Australian women, so a lot of great brands don’t cater for those sizes. That irks me more than anything (and the massive inconsistency of the sizing brands do have, but that’s another story for another day).

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Yes, the inconsistency in sizing has me training myself and my clients to ignore the number. It’s about finding clothes that fit and flatter YOU – not want you should be wearing because of a number.

  • Rachel

    What you said was spot on Nikki…thank you for saying it. My wardrobe was looking drab because I was tired of trying on clothes, feeling depressed and walking away empty-handed promising myself to lose 10 kilos. When you’ve got a toddler and a baby in tow, you don’t have time to try on everything on at Country Road! The other day, I said ‘Enough is enough’! I asked a friend to babysit whilst I hunted for clothes to make me feel fabulous. I succeeded. Maybe I’ll lose that 10 kilos, maybe I won’t, but I refuse to look like a frumpy mummy in the meantime. Fashion should not be made for one size!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Rachel, that is just the attitude you need to have. It’s not about the next 5 or 10, or 50kg – it’s about feeling the best about yourself you can – NOW! And making an appointment with yourself to do this is so the right way about it.

    • http://www.woogsworld.com Mrs Woog

      I totally agree with everything you are saying here. I used to be exactly the same and it made me feel like shit. Good on you darling xx

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

        And so stoked you took this advice today and made a shopping appointment with yourself. Clever.

  • Simone

    Currently a size 16-18, I trotted off to Myer yesterday to buy a dress trying to embrace colour. Unfortunately I found a number of dresses up to size 16 but ummm needed a size 18 for the derriere. Even the sizes 14-16 if available were sold out. As a short woman 5’3, I find most larger sized woman’s brands just swamp me, but was inpired to see that Jane Lamerton has a “Petite” range with sizes up to 18. Go the real women, however a friend whom is a size 6 does struggle to find options that flatter her petite frame go figure.

    • Simone

      Just read your reply’s heart we’re all real. We’ve all got lady bits!

  • Heather

    Good on you Nikki! Thanks for all you do-you are the voice of reason in an otherwise demoralising chorus that is fashion. Love the pics!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks Heather – and the pics are from a very talented blogger friend and photographer, Danimezza. She is a star on the rise!

  • http://www.i-am-kirst.blogspot.com Kirst

    I love that black white and green Leona+ dress!!!
    Do you think the skinny minis will be upset that they can’t get it? Maybe get a bit of the same feelings that bigger girls get when they are excluded from a particular collection.

    I personally think that designers design for twigs as it’s just easier. Not better. It’s far easier to design a dress for a girl with no boobs or bum, and just hangs off her. It takes real talent to design (and make) a dress that fits perfectly on a beautifully proportioned, curvy body and makes the wearer feel fabulous.

    I am not small or big, but I am not curvy either. And I hate that. I would kill for a waist/hip ratio like these models you have pictured!

    K xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      The great thing about Leona is that even if that exact same design isn’t available in a smaller size, there would be something similar. The style that Leona is famous for has just been translated for a greater size range.

      And yes, from my own experience and working with other women, we always want something that we don’t have with our bodies. And that’s a whole other post and probably a few counselling sessions for me as well.

  • http://www.mummyofstyleandsubstance.com.au Kellie

    I LOVE this post Nikki! Ive always been one for positive body image, even if one is a size 14-16 like us or larger. I have done previous posts on Chrystal Renn and Khloe Kardashian and how people judge them.
    What you wrote above is why I read Italian Vogue (they LOVE women with curves) and why I bought the latest Australian Vogue.. I have refused to buy the Australian Vogue until they started using ‘plus’ size models and not skeletons with skin and this month they did with the gorgeous Robyn Lawley featured.
    Im also going to say that although we would love to see bigger models on the catwalk, we dont want to be advocating obesity either. Healthy, curvy models are definitely the go, not skeletons with skin. What happened to models like Cindy, Linda, Naomi, Christy etc. They were skinny but also curvy. When did it become fashionable to look sickly and anorexic?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Apparently the clothes look better! I actually don’t think seeing a model who is a size 20 and above advocates obesity. Just like I don’t think seeing models or celebs looking skinny advocates anorexia – it’s way deeper than anything superficial seen on a catwalk or in a magazine.

      I just think most of us are visual people. It’s difficult for most to imagine what they would look like in clothes – if there are examples to work off, then you can actually see what to buy. And feeling good and confident about how you look in clothes should be every woman’s right.

  • http://ilikeiwishiheart.com Heidi

    I believe that only a truly talented designer can and does design for all shapes and sizes. Those who choose to ignore reality and real women are narrow-minded and shallow and in the end, most likely losing out on sales. Celebrating women for just as we are is what it’s all about and it is blogs like yours Nikki that encourage this, so thank you Nikki! Hx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks Heidi, I’ve actually refrained from using the term real women as it’s a bit of an oxymoron – as Mel from Sugar Coat It says, we’re all real. We’ve all got lady bits! But I get what you mean – real as in the sense of what size the majority of the population is. Designers like Leona Edmiston who design and cater for women of all shapes sizes should be applauded.

  • http://bigwordsblog.blogspot.com bigwords

    Great post Nikki – so well said. I am the first to admit I am unhealthy at the moment and need to get back into shape, but even if I do reach my healthy BMI range I will still have saggy boobs (from breastfeeding), a rolly belly (from three c-sections) and no matter how much I stretch I will always be 5ft 6. That is why I do not watch fashion parades or take too much stock in fashion mags or catalogues because I can not tell what any outfit will look like on me (if they fit me at all). Women need to see different shapes and sizes on the catwalk in mags etc so we can make an informed decision as to what to buy – what to buy to hide the rolly bits and embrace the gorgeous bits of our bodies. Time for a change fashion industry.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Totally agree. Part of what I do with clients is stretch their imagination where it comes to clothes – I make them try on things that they may not have ever picked off the rack. Those pieces are usually the ones that bring the spark to their eyes. And that’s what I love about what I do!

  • http://www.madambipolar.blogspot.com SawHole

    Fiona looks hot in that dress.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      That she does. The pattern and the cut of the dress is fantastic for skimming the body and creating shape.

  • http://www.eleanorfromthecommentbox.blogspot.com Eleanor

    And THAT is why I love your blog!!!!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Aww, thanks Eleanor x

  • http://www.sheribombs.blogspot.com Sheri Bomb

    Great post! I used to be an very large girl (women’s size 16-18) when I was only 13. I’ve since lost a lot of the weight and I’m now around a size 12. Finding and buying clothes is a much more positive experience now than it was when I was bigger, which is sad really. When I was larger, I used to hate going clothes shopping and it usually ended in tears because I could never find anything nice that was in my size – it should not be this way! The fashion industry are doing themselves out of sales so I find it very hard to sympathise with them when they are crying poor because of retail sales slumps. I was near a market stall at Greazefest a couple of weeks ago and I heard a larger lady ask the rather glamourous stall attendant what sizes they had to which the glamourous stall attendant replied ‘we stock small, medium, lovely and extra lovely’ it really made me smile.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      I love that Sheri. Now that’s someone working at the true coal face of the fashion industry and delivering what her potential customers are looking for. And as a size 12, yes your shopping experience may be easier but when was the last time you saw a size 12 on the catwalk? I know, I’d like to see that!

  • http://www.laurenskyeaccessories.blogspot.com Laurenskye

    Brilliant as usual Nikki! The only reason there is a perception that clothes look better on tall and thin models is because the clothes are designed for only tall and thin women. How amazing do the girls above look in the non discriminating clothing designed for all sized women. I love that spliced stripe dress on Fiona Falkiner. i will certainly be keeping an eye out for that.

    And PS Damien, you clearly do not associate with any overweight women, or you would realise that the worst way to encourage a healthier lifestyle is to incite self-loathing. Telling a woman that she does not look beautiful in clothing only sends her on a downward spiral.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Lauren, that is very true, the downward spiral that comes from a flippant remark or not being able to dress to make you feel fabulous is counter-productive on so many levels.

      • http://www.laurenskyeaccessories.blogspot.com Laurenskye

        For what it’s worth, which is not much these days, when I worked in fashion design the main label I worked on was the now defunct (not my fault!) Carbon, which catered from size 16 to 26. We produced beautiful on trend fashion for this massively under catered for market. The market research we did was fascinating and while it is not an easy market to design for, it is so rewarding to help women feel more beautiful than they already are.

        • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

          It IS so rewarding Lauren – and I’ve experienced that reward and not just from size 16-26s. There is power in fashion – it’s just a matter of harnessing it to help women feel good.

  • http://writingloud.blogspot.com Megan @ Writing Out Loud

    LOVE this post, Nikki! Well said!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks Megan – I hope when you shop these days you feel more confident in choosing clothes that make you feel great.

  • http://www.danimezza.com Danimezza

    You. Rock. Always have. x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Right back at you Miss Dani x

  • http://tatumwoodroffe.typepad.com.au Tatum

    fantastic post nikki. there are so many points here you have just nailed about women and where the fashion industry is getting it wrong…you’ve articulated them perfectly. Tatum xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks Tatum, my aim with my clients and on this blog is to first and foremost help women feel good about themselves. I am but one fashion commentator, though, so there is a long way to go before that’s accepted as an industry norm.

  • http://feryxlim.posterous.com Feryx

    Everyone always talks about size. What about height? There is an abundance of beautiful floaty pieces I cannot wear because I’m too short and major swamping will ensue. End of the day though you’re right not every woman will want to look at runway shows even plus sized ones. Fashion will not cater to every size openly.

    Btw total lolz on the “last time I checked all women like to put on clothing before going out”. I’ve decided to rock the nude look today. :D

    • http://www.stink-bomb.blogspot.com stink-bomb

      oh i hear you!! i long to be able to wear maxi dresses but at my height? not a chance in hell of that happening :-(

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

        I’ve talked about height above – and that’s a huge factor. Models – even ones in the parade above – are all about six foot – it makes a huge difference to the trends that will suit you. And, as I said above, not all trends suit every woman. It’s sifting through the trends, “playing” and working out which ones do.

        • http://feryxlim.posterous.com/ Feryxlim

          GAHH amazon people!! It’s ok, i’d like to believe that in chance of disaster I will be carried off first as people may mistake me for a child. And that’s where being short WINS!

  • http://sshhmummysonthephone.blogspot.com Penny

    Love it. Hasn’t the fashion industry noticed that the only size clothes hanging on the sale rack at the end of season are size 6’s and 8’s? That’s because 2% of the female population are actually that size and all the REAL women have bought the REAL sizes.

    My go to girl is Charlie Brown. Her clothes are totally designed for REAL women. Flattering, ruching in the right places, material that skims rather than clings. And when I see her she looks normal! Love her.

    I look at the Sass & Bide clothes, for example, and as much as I like the look of them, I just know I’d never be able to wear them.

    • Mrs Woog

      Charlie Brown rocks x

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

        That she does!

    • http://www.hummingbirdssong.com Rhi @ Hummingbird’s Song

      Just curious Penny, why do you refer to a woman who is a size 10 and above as ‘REAL’? I’m an 8, and the last time I looked I was as real as the next woman. When it comes to body acceptance and fashion, I believe that as women we should be supportive to all shapes and sizes.

      • http://sshhmummysonthephone.blogspot.com Penny

        Hi Rhi – you’re right. As women we should support all shapes and sizes. As should the fashion industry. The way I have worded it is incorrect and has offended you. My apologies. And point taken.

        • http://www.hummingbirdssong.com Rhi @ Hummingbird’s Song

          Thanks Penny! Just a bit of a bugbear of mine, as trust me I still have so much trouble with fashion. No boobs and a broad back make so, so hard to get a good fit. Thanks again for the reply xx

  • http://www.stink-bomb.blogspot.com stink-bomb

    i detest clothes shopping, always have. the thought of going out to find clothes to put on this body, leaves a sour taste in my mouth. i dress it in the same thing day and day out usually mainly because i think everything looks bad on me.

    what really annoyed me about Damien’s comments was yes perhaps clothes do look better on slim women but what of about those of us who aren’t slim and would like, for once, to see the clothes we are going to buy, modelled on someone who actually looks like us body shape wise?

    Even though Fiona Falkiner and Robyn Lawley are bigger than your “normal” [in the industries eyes] model, they are in no way plus sized and for me shouldn’t be modelling clothes aimed at the 18 to 24/26 size market. why can’t we have 18/20/22/24 sized models, modelling the clothes that women that size are going to want to wear and buy? i could understand if you’re trying to squeeze a size 20 model into an outfit that’s being aimed at women sized 8 through to 16 but it’s not, it’s about women sized similar to the women you’re trying to get to buy your product modelling these clothes, so we know what they’re going to look like on OUR bodies.

    “In my job as a personal stylist, I’ve helped women from size 6 to 26 find their individual style and feel fabulous about it.”

    i long to find mine, so those you’ve helped i have no doubt thanked you immensely…one day perhaps, one day!

    great post.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au Nikki Parkinson

      Thank-you! If you click on the link to Danimezza’s photos from the parade you’ll see all the models – not just the three I featured. I think you’ll find that inspiration that you’re looking for.