With all of the high-brow exclusivity and the unrealistic standards of beauty, it can be easy to forget why we love fashion so much. Fortunately, 2013 offered up some fantastic people, organizations and moments that made us proud to follow the style beat.
A so-called "plus-size model" broke through and got the mainstream's attention... and respect. Robyn Lawley has become the unofficial poster child of the plus-size movement, sparking conversation on everything from "thigh gaps" to the validity of the label that separates her from mainstream models. Her empowering, inclusive message -- to love your body whether or not you have curves -- has been heard loud and clear, especially as she nabs top modeling gigs for the likes of Ralph Lauren and Vogue.
Lululemon was accused of discriminating against curvier shoppers... and was forced to change its tune. After making comments implying that not all women's bodies are built for his brand's yoga pants, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson issued an apology. "I'm sad for the repercussions of my actions," he said in an online video. "I'm sad for the people at Lululemon who I care so much about, that have really had to face the brunt of my actions. I take responsibility for all that has occurred and the impact it has had on you. I'm sorry to have put you all through this."
Retailers finally started to give curvier women the trendy clothes they deserve. "When I'm working in the real world with real women and we're shopping, we find that fashion seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12," Tim Gunn told The Huffington Post. "How ridiculous is that?" Fortunately, it seems designers have started to hear women's pleas. More and more options have become available this year, with global retailers like Mango, ModCloth and H&M catering to plus-sizes. Nancy LeWinter, editorial director of OneStopPlus.com, told us, "I think 10 years ago, plus-size women were OK settling. Today, plus-size women are far more clear about what they want and don't want."
A magazine proved that a no-photoshop policy is actually possible. Verily, a fashion and lifestyle magazine, hit its stride this year, pleasantly surprising the world with its no-Photoshop policy. Contributing Editor Ashley Crouch told us that the magazine was built on the principal that "the unique features of women, whether crows feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body, are aspects that contribute to women's beauty and should be celebrated -- not shamed, changed or removed." Amen, sister.
Someone finally asked plus-size women what they want to be called. As contentious as the term "plus-size" has become, it seems nobody had been asking the 60 percent of American women identifying with the plus-size market what they'd like to be called. Thankfully, Sonsi.com, a retailer from the same parent company as Lane Bryant, decided to poll the women themselves. The national survey, which polled 1,000 women sizes 14 and up, found that 28 percent prefer the term "curvy." After that, respondents were split: 25 percent said they prefer "plus-size" and 25 percent would prefer "full-figured." So there you go.
Stores placed "disabled" mannequins in their windows to better reflect the shoppers who peer in. Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled, created a series of mannequins based on real people with physical disabilities in a project entitled "Because Who Is Perfect? Get Closer." The results are breathtaking.
Real women of all shapes showed off their bodies in lingerie... and were applauded for it. When Chrystal Bougon, owner of plus-size lingerie store Curvy Girl, launched her "Regular Women" campaign, she asked customers to fearlessly submit photos of themselves in lingerie to "show that women with rolls, bumps, lumps, scars, stretch marks, surgery scars and natural breasts that have nursed babies can be stunning and beautiful." Women came out in full-force, and a national media conversation was started.
Magazines were exposed for their flagrant use of Photoshop... It took one Jennifer Lawrence GIF to show the world how much unnecessary Photoshop goes into the images we see in fashion magazines. When a June 2011 Flare magazine cover of the actress resurfaced along with the aforementioned GIF this year, the Internet saw a striking before and after contrast, highlighting how much even the most beautiful stars aren't safe from retouching. The negative response was a strong indicator of what people really want: natural, realistic images.
... and real women, including teens, lobbied for change. Inspired by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm's successful petition against Seventeen magazine's use of Photoshop, SPARK Summit asked Teen Vogue to do the same. "These photoshopped images are extremely dangerous to girls like us who read them, because they keep telling us: you are not skinny enough, pretty enough or perfect enough," the Change.org petition read.
Models didn't take themselves too seriously. No one can make us laugh like Chrissy Teigen can. The stunner continues to prove that models don't have to be stuck-up, aloof figures. Between her hilariously candid Twitter account, her real talk about model diets and her down-to-earth take on her own style, Chrissy's redefining the role of models... in the best way possible.
The industry started an honest discussion about eating disorders. When it comes to prompting a dialogue about eating disorders in the industry, sometimes it's best to start right at the source: the sketches which inspire the clothes marketed to women. Star Models, a modeling agency based in Brazil, released ads depicting a fashion design sketch of a model contrasted with a picture of a "real" model with those same unweidly proportions. The resulting images made for a powerfully graphic anti-anorexia campaign.
Abercrombie & Fitch said it didn't care for heavier shoppers... so shoppers of all sizes hit back with amazing parody ads. After Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO said he only cared to sell his clothes to "cool," "good-looking" people (and not "larger people," as industry expert Robin Lewis suggested), blogger Jes M. Baker decided to show the company what "Attractive & Fat" looks like in the brand's clothes with a series of parody ads. "I challenge the separation of attractive and fat, and I assert that they are compatible regardless of what you believe," Baker wrote.
But the fashion world's not always so peaceful...