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The Future of Fashion Isn't Representation

. Tuesday, 1 October 2019 .


I modelled for someone else the other week. As in stood in front of a professional camera in a studio set up and was photographed by someone other than my family/friends/the odd random person I can find around who is kind enough to take my phone and be my Insta bae for a couple of minutes. I spent the morning with Designer Wardrobe and did some modelling. And, dear reader, I never thought those words would ever be uttered from my mouth (well, typed from my keyboard).



And you know what? I fucking loved it. Every second of it. Admittedly I've always been quite intimidated by places like Designer Wardrobe - convinced that just like most ready to wear places, there's probably nothing in there that would fit me. So when they put a call out on Instagram looking for girls in all sizes to model their new pieces, I was so happy! Now that’s something you don’t see everyday. And for someone like Designer Wardrobe to be so inviting, so inclusive, so ready to celebrate every girl? It felt like an awakening.



This For Love and Lemons dress was the first thing I tried from the pile of options Donielle, founder of Designer Wardrobe picked out. It fit like a glove. I wanted to cry. And then she did something that made me feel like I wasn’t just tolerated here. She took me around the store to show the team how the dress looked like. We all gushed at how perfect the dress was, and that it fit so nicely. Everyone was so kind and so encouraging. All my nerves about that day and all my (admittedly silly) preconceptions of myself and my place in the fashion world – and now modelling world - melted away. I was actually welcome and wanted! No, I was celebrated. I can’t begin to express how this feels and what it means to me.



Since that day, I’ve been thinking about the future of the fashion industry. Beyond the well-loved buzzwords of diversity, inclusion, and representation, are we just tolerating or actually celebrating and creating space for change?




I mean, we've taken baby steps, sure, and one could argue that progress is still progress no matter how tiny. But the more I explored this thought, the more I've realised that actually, representation is no longer enough. Being represented in these industries feels like the bare minimum we can do to change it. It's not good enough. It's not enough for me. I don't want to just be represented at a fashion show, in images I see in the media, in the people I see working with PR companies and attending events. I'm no longer tolerating tokenism in this industry - adding a some 'colour' here and there, maybe a size 12 -14 and calling it 'plus size' when according to this piece, the average size of an American woman is between 16 - 18.



I'm done with stereotypes and being put in a box (nobody puts baby in a box - perhaps the 2019 refresh of that Dirty Dancing line?). I'm done with bullshit connotations of what an 'Asian woman' is - that we're all fair skinned and lithe and petite - and only showing one type of Asian beauty whenever we're 'represented'.





The future of the fashion/beauty/influencer industry (or, come to think of it, this applies to any industry really) isn't representation. It's normalisation. Normalise seeing plus sized bodies in 'normal' runways instead of just token representation shows. Although there is space for specific shows celebrating diversity too and I understand its importance, I'd love to be able to see something where there is no big fuss or PR buzz about how 'diverse' a show/editorial/movie/photoshoot/whathaveyou is because there's a POC or plus sized or there's a gorgeous model in a wheelchair. I want it to be just is. Because it is what it is.. We are who we are. Being exactly who we are is good enough.



I'm no longer tolerating 'she looks good for a plus sized fashion blogger/influencer' comments. No longer accepting that the reason this industry only chooses one specific type of look to showcase is "because clothes tend to look better on them than normal people". Yes, this is an actual quote I read in a magazine as a teen. While I can't remember exactly which magazine published this irresponsible sentiment, nor can I remember what year or issue it came out, I remember the quote word for word. Because it's these kinds of statements that end up being etched on your skin growing up in the Philippines where genetically speaking, it was more common to be petite than to be big like me. Comments like that are not only harmful, but what an insult to the models too - who are no doubt beautiful as they are, in just another normal body like mine. That statement, although one that I still think about from time to time, have never had the power to stop me from loving dressing up and expressing myself through clothes.



It's a bit silly, isn't it? You are a person with a body. Clothes are something that we need everyday. We all get dressed in the morning. And isn't it time we give everyone a chance - no matter how they look like or where they come from - to feel good in something as normal, banal, mundane, and everyday like the clothes?



Times are changing and maybe it's the littlest change that makes the biggest impact. Showing up as ourselves, for a start. Loudly, quietly, proudly, taking up space and tirelessly screaming into that void until more of us join in that we'll be so loud that the industry just can't help but listen and change. I know I will be, posting outfit shots of my style almost feels like a rebellion against those who think bigger girls shouldn’t draw too much attention to themselves.



The future of fashion isn’t representation. It’s normalisation. Tokenism is no longer enough. I don’t want to just be represented. I want to be in included in the standard. Not just tolerated but celebrated. That when given the space, we are actually welcome there. And while I can scream and shout into the void with my little voice as much as I can, I know that’s not enough of a driver for change. I've come to realise that while I can scream and shout as loud as I can, while my tiny voice a mere echo in a void as big as this industry, where most of the time it doesn't feel like my voice is heard, more so mattered, for any real change to really start happening, it takes other people supporting people like me too. Standing alongside us, actively driving change, amplifying voices like mine, listening when it's time to listen, doing the doing when it comes to action. 


There are so many amazing people who are out here making this industry a better place for everyone. From people like Zeenat Wilkinson at Sauce who provides such a great platform to creative, Danielle France from The Mustard Jumper who opens up her DMs as a safe place to have difficult (and sometimes controversial) conversations about fashion, to Jessica Emily Quinn who recently just launched All Bodies Welcome Here  who are on a mission to and Grace Stratton from All Is For All, to Meagan Kerr who has been tirelessly making our fashion industry more welcoming for years, and Ellie from Loving Ellie's Belly whose username is literally all about loving your body, it takes a hell of a strong village to create change and I’m proud to stand alongside them in support, solidarity, and love.



And to Donielle Brooke and the team behind Designer Wardrobe, who are so proactive when it comes to making sure they cater to curvier girls, including us in conversation about who they stock, proudly showcasing us in their social media feeds and celebrating all kinds of looks – thank you. You are, too me, the best example of what normalisation in the fashion industry in the future looks like. A collaboration, a celebration, accessible self-expression through clothes. It's inspiring to see this change come to fruition.



The future of fashion isn’t representation. It’s normalisation. There is space for me in this changing time. Just like there is space for you, too. Let’s not be afraid to take it and use it to challenge old narratives and limitations. It's our fucking time. And sis? Wear what you want. Life is too short for anything else. Really.


I modelled for someone else the other week. As in stood in front of a professional camera in a studio set up and was photographed by someone other than my family/friends/the odd random person I can find around who is kind enough to take my phone and be my Insta bae for a couple of minutes. I spent the morning with Designer Wardrobe and did some modelling. And, dear reader, I never thought those words would ever be uttered from my mouth (well, typed from my keyboard).



And you know what? I fucking loved it. Every second of it. Admittedly I've always been quite intimidated by places like Designer Wardrobe - convinced that just like most ready to wear places, there's probably nothing in there that would fit me. So when they put a call out on Instagram looking for girls in all sizes to model their new pieces, I was so happy! Now that’s something you don’t see everyday. And for someone like Designer Wardrobe to be so inviting, so inclusive, so ready to celebrate every girl? It felt like an awakening.



This For Love and Lemons dress was the first thing I tried from the pile of options Donielle, founder of Designer Wardrobe picked out. It fit like a glove. I wanted to cry. And then she did something that made me feel like I wasn’t just tolerated here. She took me around the store to show the team how the dress looked like. We all gushed at how perfect the dress was, and that it fit so nicely. Everyone was so kind and so encouraging. All my nerves about that day and all my (admittedly silly) preconceptions of myself and my place in the fashion world – and now modelling world - melted away. I was actually welcome and wanted! No, I was celebrated. I can’t begin to express how this feels and what it means to me.



Since that day, I’ve been thinking about the future of the fashion industry. Beyond the well-loved buzzwords of diversity, inclusion, and representation, are we just tolerating or actually celebrating and creating space for change?




I mean, we've taken baby steps, sure, and one could argue that progress is still progress no matter how tiny. But the more I explored this thought, the more I've realised that actually, representation is no longer enough. Being represented in these industries feels like the bare minimum we can do to change it. It's not good enough. It's not enough for me. I don't want to just be represented at a fashion show, in images I see in the media, in the people I see working with PR companies and attending events. I'm no longer tolerating tokenism in this industry - adding a some 'colour' here and there, maybe a size 12 -14 and calling it 'plus size' when according to this piece, the average size of an American woman is between 16 - 18.



I'm done with stereotypes and being put in a box (nobody puts baby in a box - perhaps the 2019 refresh of that Dirty Dancing line?). I'm done with bullshit connotations of what an 'Asian woman' is - that we're all fair skinned and lithe and petite - and only showing one type of Asian beauty whenever we're 'represented'.





The future of the fashion/beauty/influencer industry (or, come to think of it, this applies to any industry really) isn't representation. It's normalisation. Normalise seeing plus sized bodies in 'normal' runways instead of just token representation shows. Although there is space for specific shows celebrating diversity too and I understand its importance, I'd love to be able to see something where there is no big fuss or PR buzz about how 'diverse' a show/editorial/movie/photoshoot/whathaveyou is because there's a POC or plus sized or there's a gorgeous model in a wheelchair. I want it to be just is. Because it is what it is.. We are who we are. Being exactly who we are is good enough.



I'm no longer tolerating 'she looks good for a plus sized fashion blogger/influencer' comments. No longer accepting that the reason this industry only chooses one specific type of look to showcase is "because clothes tend to look better on them than normal people". Yes, this is an actual quote I read in a magazine as a teen. While I can't remember exactly which magazine published this irresponsible sentiment, nor can I remember what year or issue it came out, I remember the quote word for word. Because it's these kinds of statements that end up being etched on your skin growing up in the Philippines where genetically speaking, it was more common to be petite than to be big like me. Comments like that are not only harmful, but what an insult to the models too - who are no doubt beautiful as they are, in just another normal body like mine. That statement, although one that I still think about from time to time, have never had the power to stop me from loving dressing up and expressing myself through clothes.



It's a bit silly, isn't it? You are a person with a body. Clothes are something that we need everyday. We all get dressed in the morning. And isn't it time we give everyone a chance - no matter how they look like or where they come from - to feel good in something as normal, banal, mundane, and everyday like the clothes?



Times are changing and maybe it's the littlest change that makes the biggest impact. Showing up as ourselves, for a start. Loudly, quietly, proudly, taking up space and tirelessly screaming into that void until more of us join in that we'll be so loud that the industry just can't help but listen and change. I know I will be, posting outfit shots of my style almost feels like a rebellion against those who think bigger girls shouldn’t draw too much attention to themselves.



The future of fashion isn’t representation. It’s normalisation. Tokenism is no longer enough. I don’t want to just be represented. I want to be in included in the standard. Not just tolerated but celebrated. That when given the space, we are actually welcome there. And while I can scream and shout into the void with my little voice as much as I can, I know that’s not enough of a driver for change. I've come to realise that while I can scream and shout as loud as I can, while my tiny voice a mere echo in a void as big as this industry, where most of the time it doesn't feel like my voice is heard, more so mattered, for any real change to really start happening, it takes other people supporting people like me too. Standing alongside us, actively driving change, amplifying voices like mine, listening when it's time to listen, doing the doing when it comes to action. 


There are so many amazing people who are out here making this industry a better place for everyone. From people like Zeenat Wilkinson at Sauce who provides such a great platform to creative, Danielle France from The Mustard Jumper who opens up her DMs as a safe place to have difficult (and sometimes controversial) conversations about fashion, to Jessica Emily Quinn who recently just launched All Bodies Welcome Here  who are on a mission to and Grace Stratton from All Is For All, to Meagan Kerr who has been tirelessly making our fashion industry more welcoming for years, and Ellie from Loving Ellie's Belly whose username is literally all about loving your body, it takes a hell of a strong village to create change and I’m proud to stand alongside them in support, solidarity, and love.



And to Donielle Brooke and the team behind Designer Wardrobe, who are so proactive when it comes to making sure they cater to curvier girls, including us in conversation about who they stock, proudly showcasing us in their social media feeds and celebrating all kinds of looks – thank you. You are, too me, the best example of what normalisation in the fashion industry in the future looks like. A collaboration, a celebration, accessible self-expression through clothes. It's inspiring to see this change come to fruition.



The future of fashion isn’t representation. It’s normalisation. There is space for me in this changing time. Just like there is space for you, too. Let’s not be afraid to take it and use it to challenge old narratives and limitations. It's our fucking time. And sis? Wear what you want. Life is too short for anything else. Really.

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