Social media is often deemed a source of insecurity and body shaming. Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s too easy to scroll through your Instagram feed and see pictures of influencers and celebrities who you wish you could dress like, or you wish your body could mirror… and it traps you. Even if you’re confident and comfortable with the body you have, it takes its toll on you. You want to look and dress like the people sprinkled throughout your feed, but you don’t, and so you think that, in order to be happy and achieve their style, you have to change something about yourself and your body. But you don’t. At the end of the day, Instagram and most social media spaces are our own. We choose who we follow, and thus, we choose what we see.
This didn’t become apparent to me until this past summer, when I addressed the thing that had been bothering me since middle school. I was bent on redefining my style after what felt like a year of uncertainty, and so I took to YouTube and Instagram for inspiration. I dove headfirst into the world of fashion and lifestyle influencers, and I found exactly what I expected. The most popular, mainstream influencers all looked the same– they were size four, they shopped at Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville, and they were trendy. They were the perfect image of the women the fashion industry has the tendency to market and cater to, and I hadn’t even realized that to be the case until I tried to dress like them. I bought the pleated skirts, satin tank tops, skinny mom jeans… and I hated it. Nothing fit right for me, nothing worked with my body type, and I ended up feeling worse about myself than I ever had before. And it’s not that I don’t love my body– I do. It’s just… we live in a world where popular society does not always agree with my body type, and when trying to find myself through style and fashion, it sucked. Every single popular influencer was straight size, and I felt stuck. I felt as though I was doomed to layers that would never compliment my curves, and would never venture into trends I so deeply wanted to be apart of.
Then I found the influencers who would change my life– who would be the push into finally allowing myself to feel as though I existed in an industry so systematically inclined toward body shaming. I found Sierra Schultzzie, Carrie Dayton and Lucy Jane Wood— and from there, I fell into a rabbit hole. I’d finally found people who looked like me, whose styles aligned with my own. I felt as though, for once in my life, I could let my style mirror the images I’d sought after for so long. I followed these influencers on YouTube and Instagram, and followed other influencers who looked like them. This was when I discovered the term “midsize,” which referred to the girls who weren’t straight size or plus size, but somewhere in between. I surrounded my feed and nightly YouTube binges with women I could relate to, and it paved the way for me to own my style, and dress the way I wanted to after years of not understanding what was right for me.
Midsize fashion is so rarely spoken about, yet girls who fall into this category are a dime a dozen. They just don’t know it exists. We’ve all been there– we’ve walked into stores like Forever 21 and have felt ashamed when straight sized clothes were too small, and plus sized clothes were too big, and we’ve felt like the issue. We’ve felt like we either need to be bigger or smaller, and it’s sucked. But we aren’t the issue. It’s brands like Forever 21 who refuse to acknowledge the fact that size 10, 12, 14 and 16 women exist. There are measurements beyond a 31 waist, and before a 36 waist. It’s what’s driven me to align more with brands like American Eagle Outfitters, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Brands who have worked so hard to finally integrate models of all sizes, and clothing of all sizes without separating the two into entirely different categories, with a clear lack in variety for the size they’ve deemed less important. Forever 21 is the primary suspect– on their website alone, you’ll find tens of pages of items available for straight sizes, nothing for midsize, and about two or three pages for plus sizes. It’s time for this to change. In a world where it feels like bodies of different shapes and sizes are finally being somewhat acknowledged in a positive light, I implore these brands to do better.
You can preach body positivity and women’s empowerment all you want; but it isn’t genuine until you’re actively taking steps to recognize women of all shapes and sizes. Midsize fashion influencers are forcing brands to finally shine light and give a space to all the girls who lie in between and beyond, and I admire that. Without these influencers on my feed, I’d still be that girl in high school, wanting to change my weight and body for everybody but myself.