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Body Positivity Graces the Catwalk: A Look at New York Fashion Week

Olivia Clancy, Communications Intern

Content note: Mentions of size and potentially-triggering behaviors 

From newly implemented size minimums on models to anti-thigh chafing bands, the year’s New York Fashion Week shows seem to be changing. How do these shifts reflect the growing body positivity movement?

NYFW is known for its iconic trends, high end designers, and celebrity-filled audiences. As the trends in clothing change every year, so do those in social responsibility, especially in regards to diversity of models walking the runway. This year marked a change in the size and shape of models which is seen in diversity of the women (and men) who participated this year.

The day before the shows began on September 7, the French fashion companies LMVH and Kering announced their ban on runway models under a size 2. If these companies don’t sound familiar perhaps their holdings will. Collectively, the two own major influencers like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and over 20 more. This rule means that all runways from New York to Milan are now required to follow this regulation and can be fined if they neglect to do so. 

The new regulation also impacted male models involved in Fashion Week as they faced new regulations as well. Male models must now fall into the size range of 34 to 44 in order to be able to participate in runway shows globally. These new size policies result from the charter between the two companies known as “The Charter on Working Relations With Fashion Models and Their Well-Being,” which serves as a means of “respecting the dignity” of all the models involved. 

The changes to models’ appearances did not end with the charter. Chromat’s Becca McCharen-Tran outfitted her models in anti-thigh chafing bands. The bands resemble an elasticized garter and their intended purpose was to reduce the friction that occurs particularly when in a dress, skirt, or lingerie. However, the effect of the bands was one of body positivity, showing that a thigh gap is no longer necessary to achieve beauty and highlighting the abundance of curvy girls throughout the show. 

As a whole, this round of NYFW shows boasted a number of plus-sized models, the inclusion of a wider range of sizes, and stricter regulations on models. While the fashion industry still has a long way to go as far as shape and size inclusivity goes, these runway shows made it apparent that body positivity is always in style. 

Olivia Clancy is a sophomore at New York University studying applied psychology and child and adolescent mental health studies. She plans on using her own experiences with mental illness to help others in her future career as a clinical psychologist.