In case you’ve been hiding under a rock - a fair action given the state of 2020- and haven’t heard of Savage x Fenty, also known as Lingerie by Rihanna, I’ll briefly outline this revolutionary fashion label for you. Founded in 2018, Savage x Fenty has surpassed fashion labels to become a cultural phenomenon, featured in the wardrobes of some of the biggest names, including Lizzo, Normani, Gigi Hadid and more. The brand offers an optional membership program, but that isn’t whats catching everyone eye. Any brand created by a famous artist is sure to make the news, but Savage X Fenty dominated the social sphere when photos of their collection were added to the website and included all body types.
But here’s the catch, the part that truly gets me. We began to see larger bodies featured on websites such as Asos or Jacamo, which was a significant step forward but pales in comparison to Savage x Fenty for two reasons:
Let’s start with the latter, the scarlet letter of ‘plus-size’ slapped across clothing. What’s my issue with this? My issue lies in that these individuals tend not even to be plus-size; they’re not far above the average. You have thin, toned models for the ‘mainstream’ clothing and then anyone with an inch of fat on their stomach branded as plus-size. The plus-size range always features fewer options than mainstream clothing, despite catering to a higher majority of the population. The sizing is dramatic and inaccurate. Don’t even get me started on the medium size featured by most clothing brands - it isn’t medium if it is far below the average size, which is a UK 16 for women!
Instead, Savage x Fenty features a range of models on their website of all shapes and sizes, for all clothing. That’s right, Savage x Fenty doesn’t offer plus-size clothing because all of their clothing is available in every size. From XS to 4XL, Rihanna and her team believe that every woman should feel beautiful and get to wear whatever they want, not what designers have deemed to be appropriate for a fat woman. As you’ll see that the options provided in plus-sized clothing tend to be more conservative and less form-fitting. This could aim to ensure women feel comfortable, but we wouldn’t need such restrictions without society telling us that we do. A larger woman could wear anything a petite woman can wear, it’s her choice and her body to dress as she sees fit. We need to stop feeling horrified by the sight of stomach fat or larger overlapping thighs. Booty shorts or bralettes, mini skirts or crop tops, here we come!
By removing the plus-sized label, Savage x Fenty has evolved into an actually inclusive brand. As they don’t just include an alternate range, they include plus-sized women and men into their existing range. They’re providing as much choice for a woman who is 3XL as one who is S, and this is something that plus-sized women rarely see. To have a mainstream brand cater to them, to have a mainstream brand offer them the same clothing as their thinner peers get to choose from. This is inclusivity; this is the way forward.
“Savage X Fenty celebrates fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity.” - About, Savage X Fenty website.
And they genuinely do. Savage X Fenty celebrates the fearlessness of wearing what you want, despite your size and how society dictates that it be dressed. The confidence to look through an entire page of options and know that you can order any of them, a freedom that should have been awarded long ago. The true inclusivity that comes from including everyone in the same category, not just ticking off different boxes and keeping them separated and focusing on our similarities rather than our differences. Rihanna’s range of models shows how different people look in the same clothing, and through that, it not only allows people to see themselves in clothing but also highlights the different beauties that can come out of them.
Now let’s take it back to the first point, the fact that Savage x Fenty not only celebrates larger women but larger men as well. You may think “so what?” and I don’t blame you. There is no denying that women, especially fatter women, are far more scrutinised by the media and the general public. Women have their self-worth intrinsically linked to their size and appearance in a way that men are not subjected to. If we want to play the “who is worse off?” game, then the answer is clear. But bear with me, and consider the recent body-positive movement and its portrayal.
“Being a plus-size man is much easier that being a plus-size woman. We can take up more space, and our bodies aren't scrutinised the same way women's are. But in terms of representation in the media and pop culture, women have us beat. The way media and fashion brands for women have embraced fat bodies over the years has given me so much joy and hope—I only wish men would catch up.” - Christopher Rosa, Glamour.
Looking back, I can remember seeing far more plus-sized women included in the body positivity movement and on fashion brands than men. Even in plus-sized categories, male fashion brands will focus on large muscular men rather than genuine bodies. The need for this is confirmed in the overwhelming support for the Savage x Fenty male line, and the promotion of the “dad-bod”. We accept men being a larger size in real life, but this has yet to transcend to the media, which almost flips the conditions held for women. And it’s needed, the solution for the bodily oppression of women isn’t to hold men to equally high standards, it is to remove the barriers for all. It’s to stop judging individuals by their size, to stop equating weight to health and to start looking at each individual as unique and beautiful for it.
Fat has been around since the world began; it has been celebrated over centuries from the Romans to Medieval times. Check out sculptures made of women across the centuries and how their larger and unapologetic bodies are painstakingly crafted. Fat isn’t going anywhere, the only thing going is the fatphobia we have internalised and continue to spew. Savage X Fenty marks a moment in history and the evidence that we need. People love this brand for the real image they portray, they mirror the consumers who will shop there, and I’m sure that their earnings aren’t hurting for it. And good, they deserve to be rewarded for their experiment and tenacity, any other company is welcome to join them and earn from it. Every size is sexy and deserves to feel that way, and I will support any company that proves it.
“In Rihanna’s World, Plus-Size People Aren’t Just Welcomed. They’re Worshipped” - Christopher Rosa, Glamour
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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