Sizeism in the Fashion Industry – More Power to the Plus Size

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Believe it or not, there is still discrimination and sizeism in the world of fashion. Evidence shows that there is issues with sizeism in the fashion industry. Even though the high fashion industry acknowledges the increasing popularity of plus size models, sizeism still exists.

Sizeism in the Fashion Industry

According to Teen Vogue magazine, European designers still discriminate against plus size models. Sizeism in the fashion industry or size discrimination is prejudice and unequal treatment directed at people based on their size. While sizeism is one thing, weight stigma adds another layer of pressure for people of size.


Weight Stigma Versus Sizeism

However, sizeism is not to be confused with weight stigma or bias. Sizeism discrimination is most likely to affect women in the workplace. On the other hand, weight stigma does not include negative actions. However, sizeism is a more poignant form of discrimination. As a result, women are targeted, and they face harsher criticism based on their weight. Sizeism affects beauty standards.

The American Standard of Beauty

The American standard of beauty appears to idolize extreme thinness as seen in Victoria Secret models. Thin beauty images are not always the only type seen on the runways. In fact, the advent of the plus size model is the new norm in the fashion world. The societal body image in America has turned a corner. However, sizeism is still lingering in the fashion world. So, how do we combat size injustice?

How to Combat Size Discrimination

Negative behaviors or inequitable treatment directed toward someone overweight, without justifiable cause, is size or weight discrimination. This behavior will not be tolerated:

  • Never accept mistreatment based on your size or weight.
  • Stand your ground and fight for your rights.
  • Promote being healthy, not being thin.
  • Learn from Lizzo.

The Lizzo Dilemma

The Effects of Sizeism


Unfortunately, the latest research on sizeism does not get as much air time as diet culture and the downside of being overweight. According to researchers, weight stigma triggers physiological and behavioral changes. When people are pressured in any way about their size, here’s what happens:

  • Food consumption increases
  • Ability to self-regulate decreases
  • Cortisol levels rise
  • Hormonal changes increase

Emerging Standards of Beauty

Body enhancement surgeries on plus size body types are on the rise. Ironically, these procedures are not necessarily for weight-loss. Full-figured is the new, emerging role in the current standards of beauty. According to Neelam Vashi, associate professor of dermatology at Boston University, women are not just fighting size discrimination, they are also fighting medical and social discrimination.

How to Fight Socially Accepted Discrimination?

Ella Halikas and Alexa Jay were not allowed to enter the Highlight Room, a Hollywood nightclub. This incident caused an outrage in the plus sized community. It also sparked a mini-online movement, to combat the various prejudices in nightlife. Subsequently, there are other legitimate ways to fight size discrimination as shown in the following list:

  • Address weight bias in our society (town hall meeting in your community)
  • Discuss awareness of weight bias in workplace harassment training
  • Increase public education about complex causes of obesity
  • Collaboration with the educational, medical and celebrity communities
  • Implement anti-bullying policies in schools to protect students from weight-based bullying

Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)


CFDA is the acronym for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. It was founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert. Its headquarters is in Manhattan, New York and is a not-for-profit trade association with over 485 members. Membership is by election and invitation-only. Recruitment takes place annually.

Recruitment of Fresh Talent

Council of Fashion Designers of American is established to support and nurture new and emerging design talent. Their educational initiatives aid aspiring fashion designers. The select candidates are college students in the early stages of their career. Many delegates are fresh out of high school. Education is one of the main qualifications of the candidates.

Educational Initiatives

The CFDA scholarships cover a wide range of fashion departments. Participants receive $25,000-$50,000. This organization supports areas of the fashion industry including all the following:

  • Editorial and communications
  • Material sourcing
  • Marketing and production
  • Professional development

Diversity and Design Initiative

CFDA Design initiative awarded $200,000 to 15 students across all fashion design specializations and marginalized groups in 2022. Recipients were challenged to design fashions using scraps provided by Coach (a prominent retail brand).

  • 81% of 2021 and 2022 CFDA Scholarship recipients are diverse/underrepresented student design talent.
  • 80% of these recipients are women (She/her/hers).
  • The FFGS is another resource for anyone interested in joining the world of fashion.

Fashion Future Graduate Showcase (FFGS)

The 2022 call for CFDA Scholarship Fund and FFGS submissions shifted towards an open-access application for increased community inclusion to attract more diverse relationships with HBCUs (historical black colleges and Universities).

Each year, up to 50 fashion graduates are selected to showcase their final Senior collections on CFDA’s RUNWAY360 alongside NYFW presentations. Applications open March 2023. FFGS graduates have secured placements at leading brands including:

  • Nike
  • Proenza
  • Schouler
  • Pyler Moss
  • Reebok

Champion of Inclusivity

According to Prabal Gurung, a CFDA board member and designer, raised in Nepal, “when united, the real change happens, and history gets made.” He is known as the champion of inclusivity. The fashion industry is still a far cry from being the land of equality and it still has a way to go. However, upcoming fashion enthusiasts; many full-figured candidates, are rising to the occasion and are receiving recognition through the Generation Innovation Award.

Generation Innovation Award

CFDA + Swarovski Foundation created the Generation Innovation Award of $30,000 combined with a mentorship to advance understanding of fashion design strategies. Another contributor is the Black in Fashion Council.

The Black in Fashion Council


Another organization, the Black in Fashion Council, was founded to represent and secure the advancement of people of color in the fashion and beauty industry. It’s mission statement confirms that “it unites a resilient group of editors, models, stylists, media executives, assistants, freelance creatives and industry stakeholders” to build a foundation of inclusivity. The Kelly Initiative is another program that is making waves in the fashion industry.

The Kelly Initiative

The Kelly Initiative members sent a public letter to the CFDA accusing them of allowing exploitation, prejudice, tokenism, and employment discrimination. This is a group of 250 fashion professionals, acting as a watchdog for social injustice in the fashion industry. The Kelly Initiative leaves no stones unturned. They support plus sized models, with sizeism cases similar to Haliakias and Jay’s discrimination and other challenges regardless of gender, age, culture, or race.

Halikias and Jay Blocked at a Hollywood Nightclub.

Halikias added, “We want to share our story. We are tired of just letting this happen, we are clearly being discriminated against. This is not the first time she and her friend, Jay have experienced racism or fatphobia in a nightlife”, she told NBC News. She has 500,000 followers on TikTok.

Halikias and her friend Jay are celebrities in their own right. Jay has 78,000 TikTok followers and is assigned as a plus size model with DT Model Management. Halikas is featured in Sport’s Illustrated and has worked as a content creator since 2019. They both fought for their rights to enter the club. The bottom line is that discrimination will not be tolerated. Know your constitutional rights.

Know Your Constitutional Rights


Discrimination of any kind will continue to be proliferated when you stand by and do nothing. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be proactive and stand up for your rights. Don’t take the law in your own hands, find the organizations and agencies that will help you fight back. No one has to face discrimination alone. You have civil rights that must be respected.

Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act of 1976.

The Public Act 453 of the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act of 1976 prohibits “discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of these human rights. In addition, these rights are based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.”

Your Personal Civil Rights

Your personal civil rights are stated by the Health and Human Services Department. It herein states that “personal rights are guaranteed and protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Final Thoughts

Everyone deserves to be treated to the utmost with dignity and respect regardless of race, color, creed, educational status and all the above demographics. These are inalienable rights that shield individuals from any type of discrimination. Kudos to Haliakas and Jay for standing up in the face of discrimination. They are true champions for standing up for their rights.

Discrimination Is Not Tolerated

You have seen the landscape of sizeism and social, society injustice. This too shall pass. Discrimination has no place in a democratic-republican society and will not be tolerated. No one should be defined by their height, weight, or size in this day and age. Regardless of where you live across the globe, sizeism must go.

Thank You

Take this message in and share it with friends and family and shout it on the roof tops “sizeism is illegal and will not be tolerated.” What is your take on sizeism? Let me know if this resonates with you or someone you know. I am more than glad to address these issues with you. Leave me a comment in the space below and I will be more the glad to share dialogue with you.

Rachele, Founder



2 thoughts on “Sizeism in the Fashion Industry – More Power to the Plus Size”

  1. Wow, what an empowering article. While I’m not directly involved in the fashion industry, I have personally encountered many instances where my weight became a deciding factor between landing an opportunity and not. Thank you so much for raising awareness of this. I will definitely be sharing this with my friends and family.

    • Kory,

      Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond to my article. Recently I have been researching and diving deep into fashion and lifestyle and what I find is astounding. No one should be stereotyped or reprimanded due to their shape or size. This will not be tolerated. 

      I am so glad to say that plus-size women are fighting back and are gaining lots more respect, now that they are appearing as high fashion Instagram influencers, are on the high-end runways and even in magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Vogue.

      Your feedback is greatly appreciated,



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