Modcloth's Open Letter to the Fashion Industry & My #FashionTruth

Earlier today, Modcloth CEO Susan G. Koger published an open letter to the fashion industry, a letter that challenges their "unrealistic and unhealthy standards."

They asked me to participate in this important conversation, and I jumped at the chance. It's a subject I'm well-aware of and certainly experienced in. Consider this my very own open letter. 

Modcloth told me that in a recent study, they found that only 13% of women believe the industry accurately portrays real women. My first thought was, "Big surprise." I'm actually shocked the number isn't lower. Modcloth recently signed an anti-airbrush pledge, which is an awesome step in the right direction. In my opinion, air-brushing is not the enemy. Used in moderation, it can make you look like your best self (holla BUST!).  It's when you get far far away from that self, we start to have a problem. Good lighting can solve most things though so who even needs Photoshop?

Let's get back to the idea of "real women" and how that relates to the fashion industry. Personally, I have a knee-jerk reaction to the term. It's often used to exclude naturally thin and/or trans-women. As well meaning as it is, "Real women have curves" is not an inclusive mantra. And, that's what is truly missing, inclusivity. Women come in all shapes and sizes, which you wouldn't know looking at our culture of fashion . The plus-side of the spectrum has lacked a voice for so long, yet the irony is that the average American woman is about a size 14. Talk about a marketing oversight. 

I currently hover around a size 12-14 and, for a while, I didn't understand the extent of my limited options. In that range, I have the privilege of being on the cusp of plus. This means I might find something at the mall, in my size, but it will be hidden, far away...all by itself. When it comes to high end,  the options are even worse. Designers basically fail anyone over a size 8. I remember shopping in Soho with my mom, who wanted to buy me a special gift. We went into shop after shop with no luck. I remember the odd shame I felt at the suggestion of ordering a special size.  Another time, the glee of finding something that fit far outweighed the shame. Why? Because I had already resigned myself to looking (not wearing) such pretty things. There was an immediate assumption that there was nothing there for me. The normalcy of that assumption doesn't do wonders for the self-esteem, mine or the countless women who feel the same way. The average woman is a size 14 yet somehow there's a stigma of anyone looking stylish over a size 10. How much money is being lost there? I bargain quite a bit considering plus gals have money to burn.

When it comes to advertising, plus is rarely plus, and my biggest issue, especially when highlighting different body types, or skintones for that matter, is the segregation of it all. Vogue Italia not only has a separate section for curvy women, but a separate section for black celebrities as well. How is that ok? I am happy when magazines choose to use a plus-model, but I don't think they should be lauded for it, especially if the focus is purely plus. Integrate those models into everyday editorials and change will start to happen. A healthy, inclusive image has the power to change the way women all over the world feel about themselves.

I commend Modcloth for using such diverse models. I also commend them for supporting the “Truth in Advertising” Bill, which is currently on its way through Congress. Way to go Modcloth! We can only hope it's the start of  a new direction.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and enlightening me Kristina.
    I've always been slender, but I enjoy seeing brands and companies cater to all women. It's uncomfortable shopping with friends and having different body shapes, trying to all shop at the same place!
    The Truth in Advertising bill sounds interesting! I'd love for Australia to follow suit.


  2. Yes, yes & yes!

    I can't relate to being super skinny, tall or small chested so ads & clothes on models don't hold any interest to me. It's really rare to find unphotoshopped images, larger busts, different skin tones, variety in heights, etc. I wonder why it's taking so long for them to fix this.

    I agree with the "real women" thing because not every person has curves or physical feminine parts.

    I know some brands are expanding with their sizes but what bothers me the most is that it's usually much more expensive. It shouldn't be you need $40-$60 per item kind of thing. That's just horrible.

  3. I can relate to you so much. I'm a plus-sized fashionista and I hate how hard it is to find clothes and how limited the clothes are. It has always made me feel self conscious, because even at my smallest I was a size 12. ModCloth has helped me gain my confidence with their plus sized selections and using diverse models.

    xox Julia // http://juliamadesimple.co.vu/

  4. Oh my gosh, thank you for this post!
    I've always been considered "plus-sized." At my smallest, I was a size 12 and now I'm a 16-18. ModCloth has helped me regain my confidence, with their great selection of affordable plus sized clothes. I am definitely a supporter for Truth In Advertising.

    xox Julia // http://juliamadesimple.co.vu/