Why fatphobia is still a thing in fashion

The strawberry dress caused a stir in the fashion world over summer as many people found it on fast-fashion sites such as Wish. People were desperate to find the original designer, and found the fabulous dress and made it the mood of summer. The original $490 strawberry midi dress designed by Lirika Matoshi went viral on TikTok and showcased off the dress.

Unfortunately, someone had already worn the dress before. Tess Holliday wore the dress on the red carpet all the way back in January and received some serious backlash from the press. Holliday shared on Instagram on August 17 that: “I like how this dress had me on worst dressed lists when I wore it in January to the Grammys, but now because a bunch of skinny people wore it on TikTok – everyone cares.” 

Fat people aren’t trendy

This whole thing sums up how much fatphobia still dominates the fashion world and measures it by the size of the model instead of the clothes. Many other curvy influencers had worn this dress throughout the year (Bree Kish, Honey Ross, Susan Presley and Dani Sauter) but didn’t receive as much love as skinny influencers did on TikTok.

Twitter saw a similar problem in which a picture was posted of two plus-sized women wearing baggy 90s shirts matched with acid wash denim shorts. The women were mocked and slated on Twitter, with many raising the argument of if this picture was of two skinny girls – then it’d be on Pinterest mood boards. If models such as Bella Hadid or Kaia Gerber wore this, then it’d be an instant iconic look. 

Changes need to be made

In order to defeat this fatphobic mentality, popular designers and retailers need to offer more options for people size 16 and above. The strawberry dress made by Lirika Matoshi only goes up to size 16 and Holliday had to have hers custom made. Most retail brands only style most of their modern clothing up to size 16 and then have a special plus-size section with the most hideous clothing. 

Fashion shouldn’t be defined by your weight, but by your individual style. If curvy women can’t find their style in their size, then they have to wear clothes that aren’t right for them. Alterations for a size should be the result of personal fitting (such as a bigger bust) rather than a larger size. 

People who aren’t plus-size in the fashion or media industry need to realise that skinny doesn’t equal beautiful. The size of someone does not equate their job or their personalities. Plus-size and straight-size models are equally gorgeous in the same outfit, but their attitudes make the difference. Holliday in the strawberry dress is stunning and the influencers on TikTok are exquisite in the dress, at the end of the day the dress is gorgeous. Ultimately, that’s what fashion is about and should be the focus – THE OUTFIT!

Words by Charlie Vogelsang

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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