Australian influencer Flex Mami (aka Lillian Ahenkan) has appealed to clothing brands to extend their size ranges and to be respectful when reaching out to plus-sized influencers such as herself.
In an opinion piece for News.com.au, the size 18 author, presenter, podcaster and DJ slammed brands for their ignorant and offensive communications with her and other plus-sized women.
Sizing her up
The BUILD Series Sydney host detailed a recent incident with an unnamed brand, who asked to send her clothes to wear in Instagram posts.
“Naturally, when I received these messages, I jump on their website to see if I’m interested in what they’re offering and to check if they actually stock my size. Spoiler alert: 90% of the time they don’t.”
When she politely declined the request, citing size as the reason, the brand responded that they have “a few styles that stretch”.
Big mistake. HUGE.
Stretching the truth
Flex takes issue with this and other types of responses she regularly receives, including “Let’s just see if it will fit”, “This is made to be oversized” and “We can leave it unzipped at the back”.
She explains that rather than being accommodating as the senders may believe, such responses encourage dishonesty, imply she doesn’t understand her own body and reinforce that she and all plus-sized women exist outside the “norm”.
Not only is this disrespectful and dishonest, but it’s also deluded.
“The “standard”, especially in Australia, is not small or thin, yet that is what the majority of the industry is catering to.”
Flex urges more fashion labels to cater to women her size and larger.
Producing up to a size 18 is considered an extended range and more brands are beginning to do this, but that they need to offer bigger sizes too.
She acknowledges that this can be a huge undertaking for a brand, but that it’s a necessary step to true inclusivity. Otherwise, working with plus-sized models and influencers is “tokenistic and unsustainable”.
“What exactly is the message that’s being sent here when brands aren’t actually willing to cater to our bodies but are more than happy to exploit our bodies, likeness, platform and labour?”
Flex ends the piece with suggestions and solutions for working with her and her peers, from stocking bigger sizes to accepting feedback from plus-sized influencers.
“So who’s going to take precautions, accountability and responsibility on the other side? I’m over people capitalising off my discomfort. 2020 is the year I’m literally taking up more space.”
Flex isn’t the only well-known woman promoting inclusivity and respect for women of all sizes.
Fellow Australian influencers Ariella Nyssa, Karina Irby and former The Bachelor star Abbie Chatfield are all advocates for body positivity, hitting back at body-shaming trolls who attack their cellulite-and-all approach to Instagram pics.
While The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil is on a one-woman crusade in favour of ‘body ambivalence’ or ‘body neutrality’.
And then there’s Lizzo, known as much for her body-positive social media presence as she is for her music.
Lizzo loves a cheeky bikini snap and her stage costumes often leave little to the imagination. The Good As Hell singer recently and rather brilliantly captioned an Instagram post “Roll model” and we are more than here for it.
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