Weary of hearing how slimming black is? Plus model and girl power Insta queen Isabel Hendrix has got you covered
As a wave of plus-visibility hits the fashion industry, gone are the days of tacky patterns, frumpy cuts, and outdated styles being met with silent disdain. Women are asserting the power of the dollar and calling for choices catering to their personal palate, regardless of size. While curvy women bemoaning outrageously minimal selections and the policing of their bodies is far from new, companies slowly but surely adjusting accordingly is. With models like Ashley Graham fronting the cover of Sports Illustrated and empowering campaigns like #PlusIsEqual and #ImNoAngel helping to reshape the frontier of fashion, it’s easy to feel we’re arriving at a major turning point. Though, how much is really changing?
Millennial media maven, model, and all-around babe Isabel Hendrix, who’s been reviving timelines with her eccentric style and free-spirited nature, is rightly frustrated at the double standard: “So many companies and magazines tell you ‘This is how you can dress to flatter your shape and size.’ I hate those,” she says. “It’s so limiting. If you’re wearing things that are form-fitting in the right places and hide certain parts, that’s not actually helping you celebrate your size at all. The whole point of body positivity and self-love is you should be able to feel comfortable wearing whatever you want to wear. Fashion shouldn’t only be open to people who are tiny.” Below, Hendrix weighs in on pleasing the person in the mirror and chucking those archaic fashion rules in favour of wearing whatever the hell you’d like.
MAINSTREAM BODY POSITIVITY HAS A WAY TO GO
“I often get questions or comments from people saying I’m not plus size, but I do wear sizes XL and XXL. I’m really tall so I don’t necessarily look big but my reality is that I wear these sizes. So there’s definitely weird tension between people who are plus size but aren’t ‘plus size enough’ within the plus community. On the whole, people who are larger obviously get way more negativity and horrible things said to them. They’re hearing all of this stuff about body positivity but in reality the people they see represented aren’t super diverse. People are happy to say they’re fine with body positivity if it’s somebody who looks socially acceptable. It’s like, well whose body positivity is that, because it’s not relative to me and my story. There’s a huge gap that needs to be filled and needs to be recognised and talked about.”
SOCIAL MEDIA IS ENCOURAGING PROGRESS
“One of the things that makes me a little more hopeful is how people have been able to call for change through social media. Everyone’s voice can be heard much more easily and fame really is relative now. You can be whoever and have people hear what you have to say. It’s neutralised the playing field a bit more because it’s not just the high fashion people who are in charge of saying what’s beautiful or how models should look. I try to remain hopeful otherwise I’d want to just curl up and die. But that’s something I definitely see as a positive, lots of shops that are smaller have started using models of the diverse variety and hopefully it’ll continue the push to have more mainstream models doing their thing while being plus or different looking than what we’re seeing now.”
“People are happy to say they’re fine with body positivity if it’s somebody who looks socially acceptable. It’s like, well whose body positivity is that?” – Isabel Hendrix
IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CATER TO ANYONE’S IDEALS
“For me, it started with practicing self-love and telling myself things I wanted to believe, like: You’re beautiful, you look great just how you are, you look good in this outfit, you feel good, you should be happy wearing what you want to wear. Even on days when I didn’t feel like that I would repeat it in my head, like fake it ‘til you make it. I also surrounded myself with people who understand and have the same desires for society, because it’s so hard when all your friends or community are telling you to look a certain way. It adds such a weight onto trying to express yourself how you really want to. For me, that’s one of the most important things, just being around people who get it. I started dressing more uniquely and weird as I discovered more fashion blogs that were celebrating people who looked different and who didn’t necessarily fit into one idea of beauty.”
THE PLUS LABEL ISN’T FOR EVERYONE AND THAT’S OK
“Going back to the division with plus-size girls, some people feel really not good about having the ‘plus’ label in their description. Personally, I think it’s still relevant. I work for a clothing shop so I look at things in a very practical way, from a shopper’s point of view, and when I see a store that says they have a plus-size section, I’m like okay, they have stuff that’ll fit me. But if I don’t see that listed, I’ll just assume that they don’t. In that realm, I think it’s still something we have to have because not every shop caters to all people. I understand the other overarching argument as well, why can’t we just be models? Why do we have to be separated? I understand that, too. Even for me it’s hard, but I usually describe myself as a plus-size model. There’s so much that goes into it.”
THE INTERNET IS OPENING UP POSSIBILITIES FOR PLUS-SIZE SHOPPING
“If you look on wholesale websites and stuff like that, plus-size selections are so limited. Do you want this bat wing shirt? (Laughs) Or this skirt that goes to your calves? All these things are calf length and it’s like what the heck? I mean, if you want to wear that go for it, but really? Is that what’s happening? It’s frustrating and a lot of extra work just to find clothes, and it shouldn’t be. I’m a huge online shopper, I prefer weirder things and you don’t necessarily find those things in plus stores. Tunnel Vision (where Isabel works) is the main place where I get my clothing. We have vintage and new stuff. We go up to size 2x and we’re going to be ordering larger crop tops to 4/5x. There’s a small online shop called Witch Worldwide, which offers kinda gothy, internet clothing. They have sizes XS-4X for all of their clothing with a really wide variety. There’s also a shop that’s more hippy, Miracle Eye. They sell vintage and handmade, they go up to 2X but also offer custom sizing. They’re more bohemian, which is nice because it’s hard to find interesting or weird styles for plus fashion.”
DOING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
“Wearing clothes is something everyone has to do, you might as well use it as a creative outlet and have fun expressing yourself. It’s exhausting idealising what other people want you to wear and look like, it’s not fun to think about that all the time. If you’re able to just let that go out of your mind and out of what dictates how you dress, it’s really freeing. You’re able to not be consumed by ideas of what’s cool or what you ‘should’ wear for your body type or all those kinds of things. You’re able to wear what feels comfortable to you, whether that’s actual comfortable clothes or clothes that you feel the most you in. Everybody should be allowed to wear what they want and not have it be this huge deal, like, ‘Oh my god, my eyes are offended by what you’re wearing.’ (Laughs) It’s so ridiculous.”