As we watch Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe hit the red carpet with just as much diva swagger and confidence as her more model-esque co-star, Paula Patton, we can't help but think that her presence has added another layer to the debate about plus-sized women and the fashion industry. But according to a fascinating piece in today's Washington Post, Robin Givhan asserts that the issue is more confusing than ever. Check out our "Curvy Girls'  Guide to Spring Fashions." Click here to read more pieces on Gabourey Sidibe. Check out more articles on Precious, here.

Jan, 24, 2010

As we watch zaftig-and-proud actress Gabourey Sidibe make the rounds the awards season, we can't help but think that her presence has added another layer to the debate about plus-sized women and the fashion industry. In the past year, Sidibe has landed the cover of high-fashion magazine V, she's been swanning around the talk show circuit, uber-confident and dressed to the nines, and she's even made the red carpet looks different--when was the last time you saw paparazzi lining up to shoot a plus-sized actress? This awards season, it's not a thing to see Gabourey striking diva poses next to her more traditionally model-esque co-star, Paula Patton. Seemingly as a result of her visibility, the fashion industry has been inspired try and represent the shapes of all women. But according to a fascinating piece in today's Washington Post, Robin Givhan asserts that the issue is more confusing than ever. This season, many fashion magazines ran pieces featuring plus-sized supermodels (like the striking Crystal Renn)--but at around 5'10" and a size 12, they're far smaller than the average American woman, who falls around 5'4" and a size 14. So what exactly is plus-size? And if most of America is a size 14 and up, why don't designers create more clothes to fit her? Why don't magazines really cater to the real woman, instead of producing one-off "size" issues featuring perfectly proportional, cellulite-free plus-size models who, despite being bigger than than their ultra-thin counterparts, still resemble the "after" shots in a weight loss ad. The most obvious answer would be that the fashion industry is a dream factory, and that the rail-thin models wafting down the runways and staring blankly from glossy magazines are aspirational--not meant to be realistic, only a fantasy. In the Washington Post, fashion editor Robin Givhan says that it's not about the models at all--it's about the designers' ego. "The most significant difference in creating a dress for a larger size is that often a designer has to tamp down his ego," she surmises. "He can't as easily force his vision onto the woman since she doesn't have the physique of a hanger." The bottom line is that it's easier for a designer to make his crazy sequined sack dress look hot on a skinny model than it is on a bigger woman. The discussion is exhausting and infuriating, but Robin Givhan's piece is genius. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the plus-size woman's place in fashion. Do you want to see more realistically-proportioned women in magazines and on the runways? Are you frustrated with the lack of fashion for plus-sized women? Or do you think thin will always be in? Let us know in the comments section.