When it comes to clothes, I happen to be one of those people who seldom follow trends. Fashion for me has always been about offbeat, unique garments that have a story to tell and are super comfy to wear. The prompt, of course, is a tight one and such separates are an anomaly to find. This is exactly why I know about all the boho-chic stores and specialty boutiques in all the cities that I have ever lived. And this kind of reminds me of a certain hip store back in Jaipur that I happened to have a love-hate relationship with.
Back when I was living in Jaipur, I crushed hard on that store's display only to be disappointed every time I tried on their clothes. I have an average built, hourglass body, and whatever nice separates they offered never fit me on the waist. This was back when I was considered legit "thin" in my family. I must have gone to the store some three times and each time it felt like the employees didn't give an Eff about customers like me.
Honestly, I never really dug too much into that, repressed that shitty memory from my head, and just gave up the idea of wearing a certain kind of clothing. However, Diet Sabya (@diestsabya) and Aishwarya Subramanyam's (@otherwarya) recent posts on Instagram have certainly brought back an unpleasant memory. And along with the memory, they have hit me with a shocking realisation: how the fashion industry continues to stereotype women's body by penalising plus size women or indirectly levying what's being called a "fat tax." The floodgates were led open by a post shared by Aishwarya where she talked about designers taking extra money for making plus size clothing.
Soon enough Diet Sabya reposted the story and what followed was a barrage of harrowing stories as women started sharing their experiences about how they were charged the "fat tax." From being charged extra for plus-size clothes in the name of embroidery to being ill-treated by the designer's staff, women spoke about all kinds of stories revealing the dark side of the fashion industry.
In these testimonies, women share how they have been charged up to 60k extra for a design simply because of their size and even after that they weren't really given the kind of fit and treatment that they should have received. Noticed how most of the designers hired plus-size models for the recently concluded FDCI India Couture Week 2020? Well, seems like all of it remains a charade with inclusivity being just an Instagram gimmick.
Honestly, it is really heartbreaking to see plus size women so brutally discouraged from wearing what they want to. Imagine, a young plus size girl, saving up money to buy a designer dress only to be told that the dress does not fall into her budget anymore given that she is "fat" and to be told that is a half-amused-half-disgusted tone. Imagine, if that girl were you or someone that you really cared about!
Back in 2019, Sabyasachi was called out for alleged "tokenism" and well while he might have refuted the claims, we have seen hardly any plus-size models in Sabyasachi's team post-Varshita T (Can't count Priyanka Parkash Sachdeva here given that it was just a one-time thing). Perhaps it's high time that these designers understand that plus-size models aren't an addition to critique proof the collection but a touchstone for reliability and inclusivity that the brand has to offer.
Well, shame on Indian fashion for being so shallow. That said there are designers who don't need to be taught something as basic as these, Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango and Shubhika from Papa Don't Preach are among them. Here's hoping that other design houses take lessons in inclusivity and more than that humanity from them.