We’ve all heard of companies hiring thin models to advertise plus-size clothing but one company took this concept to the next level — and the images have sparked outrage.
Amazon retailer Arrive Guide sells activewear in both straight and plus-sizes. That’s great news for the average woman who wears a size 14/16 — a range the fashion industry deems plus-size — but the model used by the company is not exactly reflective of the plus-sized shopper.
Not only is the model slender, she’s showcasing how large the leggings run by pulling the fabric away from her body in one image and in another, standing with two legs inside one pant leg.
Facebook user Betsy Abel, a woman in Minnesota, recently posted a photo of Arrival Guide’s Yukata Women’s Active Workout Capri Leggings, captioning it, “Here’s one for today’s ‘Are You Freaking Kidding Me’ file. Scrolling through Amazon looking at leggings… Get to the bottom and see this pair of plus size leggings… That’s fine, no shame if you need a larger size. So what the hell are they thinking using a slim model with two legs in one side??? Talk about disrespectful and being in poor taste. Like oh, hey, in case you don’t feel bad about needing a larger pair…let’s make asses of ourselves and show how two trimmer women could fit in these. Un-freaking-real!”
The post generated comments from people who deemed the image “sad” and “disrespectful.”
Abel, a fitness trainer at Sassy Guns Fitness in Minneapolis, tells Yahoo Style, “I work with women every day who fight stereotypes that go along with being plus-size and unfortunately, they are bombarded with images that make them compare themselves to cultural norms.”
Yahoo Style could not find a contact at Arrive Guide for comment (the company appears to have no website) and was told by Amazon that it didn’t have the manufacturer’s contact information.
However, according to Marie Denee, creator of The Curvy Fashionista Style Expo, an annual plus-size shopping event, the photos represent a missed opportunity. “It’s clear there was very little thought put into marketing these leggings,” Denee tells Yahoo Style. “The company could have hired a plus model — there are plenty out there — used a plus-sized mannequin, or simply featured the product alone.”
Modeling plus-size leggings. (Photo: Arrive Guide/Amazon)
The message is also muddled — the photos evoke images of magazine covers featuring women triumphantly standing inside one pant leg of an older pair of pants, to show off their weight-loss transformation. Is the idea that these leggings will motivate plus-size customers to lose weight? Or to shame them for requiring pants in a larger size?
Practically speaking, the photos don’t provide a clear image of what the leggings will look like on plus-size women. “What size are these pants? For what body type?” asks Denee.
While it’s important to spotlight the cultural bias for conventional beauty standards, Denee adds that the concept of accountability is often lost. “Does the onus fall on Arrive Guide or Amazon for allowing these images?” she says. “There’s a cultural sensitivity that’s lacking here and a great need for social responsibility.”
By Elise Solé