Is the rise of 'curvy' a real thing or just a fad?
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When the models began to parade down the catwalk of the Curvy Fashion Model in Madrid, it became clear that there is no single pattern for the word 'curvy'. If they hadn't been in the same pageant, it would be hard to tell what all these girls had in common.
In this beauty contest, the bias for the participants was that their hips measured more than 95 centimeters, a figure that reaches the vast majority of women. Some of the girls must not have worn more than a 40 and the journalists commented between whispers: "But, is that girl 'curvy'?".
The bulk of the stores offer clothes between sizes 34 and 42, and above this figure the label 'curvy' waves. A very small word for a huge range of sizes and shapes. Although 'curvy' essentially means 'with curves', in practice this loan refers to 'plus size' people.
"A woman is 'curvy' depending on how big her hips are, or from a 40 according to the real size", explains David Boix, responsible for communication of the contest, "a 'curvy' at European level is a 95 and up, It's what the agencies are asking for. That doesn't mean having cellulite or not being rock hard. People think 'curvy' means being overweight and that's a lot of debate."
It is understood then, that there are 'curvies' with and without overweight, with a lot of chest or 'flat', with bodies worked in the gym or even with obesity. This was reflected in the verdict of the contest: although the range of bodies was diverse, the winners were girls who did not seem to have health problems due to their weight, those who could carve out a real career in the 'curvy' fashion industry. Although the world of fashion begins to have broader sights, models are models.
The 'plus size' catwalk initiative is part of a few years in which social media campaigns in defense of the 'curvy' movement have skyrocketed. The model Ashley Graham -maximum representative of the movement- has lit the fuse of cyberclaims dozens of times. She wondered in her profile why she couldn't be a Victoria's Secret 'angel' or what was wrong with the cellulite on her thighs. The response in the form of comments was massive.
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Graham has received negative criticism for throwing down this gauntlet, but not as much as her colleague Tess Holliday, who is several sizes larger than her with a 54. Cover of the mythical 'teen' magazine 'Nylon', of 'People' and 'plus model mom feminist' according to Instagram, Holiday was banned by Facebook in 2016 for, according to the social network, violating its health and fitness policy. The Facebook group 'Cherchez la Femme' appealed the measure and came across this statement: "Ads may not represent a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable. Ads such as these are not allowed as they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead it is recommended to use an image of a healthy activity, such as running or cycling."
The model thinks that the term 'curvy' is just "a way to make up" what it really is. "I'm a firm believer in calling things by their name and I haven't seen anyone lose sleep over someone telling them her size is XXL," she told 'Paper Magazine'.
The curvy expansion
These kinds of conflicts ignite like wildfire in the digital world, but the debate does not stir up the big fashion firms so violently. "The topic 'curvy' is something that is touched on more in social networks than in real life, but I think it will penetrate the market," explains Violeta Andic, mother of Violeta by Mango, one of the brands that has chosen the clear side. in the 'curvy' battle with collections in large sizes with a youthful air.
She carries the stigma of having a somewhat old-fashioned design, such as "old lady", on 'plus size' clothing. To break with this prejudice, the branch of Mango was born in 2014. "When we launched the idea, the theme was to create an independent brand because we wanted to have our own identity, work the pattern in a different way and work with in-store advice", confesses its founder. .
Some, however, criticize the fact that the 'plus' lines are sold in separate stores. "There are brands that have extended sizes but others have made a new line, which is also very good, but why, if you go shopping with a curvy friend, does she have to go to another store?" asks David Boix , which supports the data from a 2015 Modcloth study. The research indicated that 60% of the 1,500 women surveyed felt uncomfortable buying 'plus-size' clothes in a separate section.
Violeta by Mango has been quick to find a piece of the pie in an industry that moved more than 21,000 million euros in 2016, according to data from the NPD Group. And it is precisely the adolescent public, the one that presses the hardest on social networks, the one that has made the turnover of 'plus size' fashion increase.
Plus sizes on the catwalk
The big fashion firms are gradually giving in to this trend. Michael Kors or Christian Siriano have been some of the designers who have uploaded to their catwalks women of sizes above the usual ones in these arenas. "I have always dressed women of different shapes and ages. This diversity of models on the catwalk should reflect an augmented vision of reality that speaks to what the world in general is. My job as a designer has always been to create garments that serve a wide range of women, and I think more and more retailers are realizing this," said Michael Kors himself in an interview with WWD.
These are the catwalks that María Berrio Palencia, Curvy Fashion Model finalist, aspires to one day climb. She weighed 120 kilos and ended up undergoing a stomach reduction that gave her the self-confidence to enter a beauty pageant. "When people hear 'curvy' they imagine a fat girl with health problems, but we try to take care of ourselves and go to the gym," she complains.
Fashion 'curvy' 'made in Spain'
For girls like her, Eva Arinero designs, who founded her Lady Peanut store back in 2012, to accommodate women with the shape of this nut. Since then it has become a reference in Madrid for 50's style fashion. As a 'curvy' girl (with a 48), she seeks to create garments that serve all women without limiting their sizes. If the correct size is not in the store, it is custom made.
"My effort was to make clothes that fit well, because I made them for myself. It seems that having a larger body has to be hidden, it's something social," she explains, "I didn't want to cover my chest or my legs."
For her, 'curvy' encompasses all those people who cannot wear 'standard' Inditex sizes. "It is believed that whoever defends 'curvies' defends obesity and that is not the case, what we defend is that we want to be beautiful no matter what size we are," she acknowledges, "there are people who hate this word, I don't know why, it's just a loving way of talking about a chubby person."