The fashion industry is a $3 trillion business that is ever changing and evolving from season to season. It’s an industry that is often criticized for its misrepresentation of women’s bodies. In recent years, plus-size models have emerged on fashion runways creating a larger presence of plus-size clothing in retail stores.
Caitlin Morrison, owner of Carpe Diem, a plus size boutique at 7106 Dollarway Road in White Hall, said that although there is still room for growth, she is excited about the diversity that is happening in fashion right now.
In 2015, plus-size model Ashley Graham was one of the first such models to appear in an advertisement in Sports Illustrated. The following year she became the first plus-size model to appear on the magazine’s cover.  
The same year, Lane Bryant released an advertisement for their body-positive campaign entitled #thisbody. The campaign featured plus-size models Ashley Graham, Precious Lee and Tara Lynn, along with others, wearing lingerie explaining what their bodies were made for.
This ad was banned from ABC and NBC networks, with executives at ABC offering the explanation that the advertisement was indecent.  
Many argued that this was hypocrisy because the network airs the Victoria’s Secret lingerie runway show. This very recent history serves as a reminder of the evolution of the representation of women’s body that the media and fashion industry are accused of perpetuating.
Morrison said the underrepresentation of plus-size models in the fashion industry is odd considering the size of the average woman in America.
“The average size for a woman in the south is a size 14, and so that’s not a small, medium, large, and if they do wear a large sometimes they do like for it to be flowy, so they tend to buy an extra-large instead of a large,” Morrison said. “Our store kind of has a niche since we are plus-size and plus-sizes are hard to find.”
In 2015, Target received a lot of backlash from their plus-size shoppers because of the online-only purchase option for a collaborated fashion line with designer Lilly Pulitzer.
The same year, the company was also criticized for ignoring its plus-sized customers by offering a limited selection of clothing.  In August of this year, Target Australia was slammed on blog sites and Facebook after it announced the new looks for its plus-size Belle Curve line on the 2 billion user social media website.
Users complained calling the clothes ugly, plain and boring. Although Target is not the only company that has been under fire for its plus-size clothing or the lack there of, Morrison said she has noticed a change in the style of clothing offered for plus-size women when buying for Carpe Diem.
“Some brands keep it more matronly I guess they think because only older ladies are plus-size. I’ve always been a bigger girl and when I would go shopping with my mom I would tell her that I am willing to pay the difference because I know it is extra fabric. It was hard for me to be on trend when I was younger because everything was so matronly. Now a lot of brands have broaden their horizons when it comes to their plus-sizes by offering on trend clothing or by simply adding a plus-size option because they see a need and they want to get in on the market while its hot,” Morrison said.
If the consumers couldn’t make the message clearer that designers should design for women of all shapes and sizes, the producers of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” a reality show where hopeful designers are chosen from all over the world to come to New York to compete for a chance to show a complete fashion line at New York Fashion Week, sent out a tweet in August of this year, saying, “models of ALL sizes will be working the runway this season.”
Morrison said that although there’s always room for growth and improvement, Graham being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated was a big win for plus-size consumers. Additionally, “Project Runway” having plus-size models is turning fashion in a direction she’s excited about.
This year at New York Fashion Week for the spring 2018 season, 26 plus-size models were featured.