With designers like Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano advocating for a more diverse representation of women’s bodies on the catwalk (as seen on their own during last season’s fashion week), it had started to feel as though the fashion industry was finally changing for the better. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has also made a promise to fund plus-size fashion in the US, while here in the UK, brands like M&S have expanded their size ranges, ensuring their clothing is more inclusive than ever. Then comes a story that a size 8 (UK size 12) is “too big” to be dressed by designers, and it feels both disappointing and depressing all over again. Bebe Rexha, who has been nominated for the Best New Artist award at February’s Grammy Awards, posted a video on Instagram, claiming that several different designers refused to make a dress for her to wear to the event.
“I finally get nominated at the Grammys and it’s, like, the coolest thing ever,” she says in the Instagram video. “So, I had my team hit a lot of designers and a lot of them do not want to dress me because I’m too big… If a size 6/8 is too big, then I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t want to wear your fucking dresses.” Rexha didn’t name the designers in question, but she certainly isn’t the first person to encounter such a problem. Melissa McCarthy, for example, has spoken several times about the fact that no designer would make her a dress for the Oscars in 2012, prompting her to start her own clothing line, while Megan Mullally said on Instagram, at the end of 2018, “Looks like I will be buying my dress [for the SAG Awards] online though, as per my usual, even though there is literally a 100 percent chance that I will be on camera, because I’M HOSTING IT. Designers do not send me dresses [sic].”
It would be interesting to know if any of these designers are those who have started to use “plus-size” models on their catwalks. While a brand like Christian Siriano does – and has always – employ a diverse model line-up (he has also famously dressed women who were ignored by other designers, like Leslie Jones, for example), it seems cynical that other brands may be publically toeing the line of inclusivity when it comes to size – but not practising what they preach. As Rexha herself said on Instagram: “Don’t say you can’t dress someone that isn’t a runway size. Empower women to love their bodies instead of making girls and women feel less than by their size. We are beautiful any size! Small or large! Anddddd My size 8 ass is still going to the Grammys.”