fashion

"Squinting to see that size diversity": An Aussie model has nailed Fashion Week's issue.

This week, Australia’s fashion people have converged in and around the red bricks and old train tracks of Sydney’s Carriageworks for 2019’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA).

Designers, stylists, commentators, journalists, editors, influencers and fashion lovers are spending their week watching, critiquing and documenting showings from over 30 of the country’s best fashion designers and brands.

There’s no denying each and every MBFWA show embodies months of meticulous work and craftsmanship, culminating in one dynamic display of art.

But we can’t pretend something’s not missing from the runways so far. Body diversity.

To hear more about size diversity in Australian modelling, listen to Mia Freedman’s No Filter interview with Curve modeling agency founder and director Chelsea Bonner below. Post continues after audio.

On Tuesday, Australian curve model Jessica Vander Leahy nailed Australian fashion week’s issue, specifically when it comes to size diversity, in a detailed Instagram post.

“Squinting to see that size diversity at Australian Fashion Week. I might not be in town [right now] but I’m watching from afar and so far, not so good,” the model, writer and Project WomanKIND founder wrote.

“Every year, we wait to see different kinds of bodies in clothes and every year Australian Fashion Week disappoints. One or two curvier models in a handful of shows doesn’t diversity make. Why is Australia so slow on the uptake? It’s so BORING!

“For the minuscule amount of high-end Aussie designers happy to showcase on different sizes, well done! To the ones deliberately excluding women who don’t fit that narrow (white? pubescent?) size 6 ideal, what is your excuse? You can’t say you didn’t have the clothes? Fashion week rolls around every year — it’s not a surprise.”

 

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Squinting to see that size diversity at Australian Fashion Week. ???? I might not be in town rn but I’m watching from afar and so far, not so good. Every year we wait to see different kinds of bodies in clothes and every year Australian Fashion Week disappoints. One or two curvier models in a handful of shows doesn’t diversity make. Why is Australia so slow on the uptake? It’s so BORING! For the minuscule amount of high-end Aussie designers happy to showcase on different sizes, well done ????????????????????????To the ones deliberately excluding women who don’t fit that narrow (white? pubescent?) size 6 ideal, what is your excuse? You can’t say you didn’t have the clothes? Fashion week rolls around every year — it’s not a surprise. When women wise up and no longer support brands who CHOOSE not to support them I won’t feel sorry for them. They had enough time. They’ve perpetuated enough self loathing and anorexia and anxiety. Why don’t they want to be inclusive and uplifting and joyful and celebrate all kinds of women? Why? Please riddle me that? As the week rolls on let’s hope we see a more interesting display of diversity. Ideally, EVERY show should be a diverse show! #fashionweek #mbfwa Also, this is not a bitter post. I actually was due to walk in a show this week but I’m unable due to a personal issue; I believe I’m being replaced by a model with my similar measurements so go her ????????????????. This is a comment about how the week as a whole just seems to be a display of one body type wearing clothes. Nowadays so many other Fashion Weeks—New York/London—are light years ahead in terms of embracing diversity, of all kinds, on their catwalks. Australian high fashion’s collective reticence is starting to look more than embarrassing—it’s actually starting to look a little cruel. ????????‍♀️ #fashion #bopo #bodypositive #fashionweek #australiandesigners #curvemodel #diversity

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Vander Leahy, who has been modelling for over 10 years and was due to walk in a fashion show this week but was unable due to a personal issue, went on to ask the industry as a whole why it “just seems to be a display of one body type wearing clothes”, when international fashion weeks in New York and London are “light years ahead in terms of embracing diversity, of all kinds, on their catwalks.”

“When women wise up and no longer support brands who CHOOSE not to support them I won’t feel sorry for them. They had enough time. They’ve perpetuated enough self loathing and anorexia and anxiety. Why don’t they want to be inclusive and uplifting and joyful and celebrate all kinds of women? Why? Please riddle me that? As the week rolls on let’s hope we see a more interesting display of diversity.”

“Australian high fashion’s collective reticence is starting to look more than embarrassing—it’s actually starting to look a little cruel.”

Vander Leahy added further context to her Instagram post in a video after receiving some backlash commentary in defence of skinny models and their right to walk the runways. (You can watch her full video below, post continues after video.)

“People want to say, ‘there’s nothing wrong with being skinny’. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying, of course, you can have thin girls in the show, there’s nothing wrong with that. All I’m saying is there needs to be a diverse range of bodies in every single show, if you are actively not seeking to be inclusive and have different bodies in your show, I just don’t even know who you’re trying to sell to,” she added.

“I know some of the thinner models who have been in the shows, they are beautiful and excellent models and deserve to be there. But so are so many other girls out there – curvier models, bigger models, taller models, shorter models, older models, than that tiny little ideal that a lot of designers are trying to push and are saying this is the only kind of person we want wearing our clothes.”

In essence, Vander Leahy’s sentiment is this: there needs to be a diverse range of bodies in every single show.

That means thin bodies, curve bodies, in between bodies, bodies with different skin tones and ethnicities, bodies of different heights, bodies of different ages, bodies whose owners are living with a disability. All bodies.

Because all of these bodies represent all of us.

What do you think about diversity in Australian fashion? Do you think designers should be more accountable for the bodies selling their clothes? Tell us in the comments.

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