As a plus size woman red carpet outfits haven't mattered to me, until now

Long gone are the days when I used to stay up all night to watch the Oscars (eye cream can only do so much), and so I was pleasantly surprised, nay thrilled, to wake up yesterday morning to my Twitter feed awash with an inspired spread of plus size stars rocking the red carpet.

In past seasons we’ve heard of curvier stars begging designers to dress them and having to opt for the same unimaginative silhouettes and safe options just to have something to wear. And so, for the fashionistas of the world who aren’t a stock model size, myself included, awards season usually passes with very little excitement.

But the world is changing – not fast enough for an impatient chubba like myself, but still. Progress is being made. Plus size fashion has blossomed on the internet. Over the last 10 years fat women have finally rebelled against what they’re supposed to wear and a grassroots movement across the world has pushed boundaries and set fire to the rule book.

There is no better example than star of Lady Bird and Booksmart, Beanie Feldstein, who is known for her unapologetic red carpet looks. On Sunday night she went for a stunning white gown with a black rose design covered in sequins. Custom designed, the gown was pretty traditional, but… it had no sleeves. Some kind of arm covering is considered a must by stylists dressing plus size women; and so, as ridiculous as it seems, Beanie was very much breaking ‘the rules’ by turning up with her plump arms on show.

This is a huge moment. One of the biggest hang ups curvy women talk to me about is their upper arms. In the summer chubby babes sweat it out in cardigans and boleros rather than subjecting the public to…what? A bit of excess flesh? So make no mistake, Beanie’s decision to wear a sleeveless gown at the biggest event in the Hollywood calendar matters and no doubt was taken deliberately.

I’m overjoyed that a new crop of plus size actors and celebs are no longer satisfied with wearing the dark, heavy ‘flattering’ fabrics and predictable silhouettes their predecessors were forced into.

They’re making their way onto best dressed lists and setting trends by themselves. If only the big designers would take notice. But alas, no. Only a handful will dress these boundary smashing babes. Which seems extra ludicrous when you realise that celebs like Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy are among some of the industry’s most bankable stars, and are regular fixtures on the red carpet.

One of the stand out looks on Sunday was Rebel’s custom Jason Wu gown. The sparkling golden piece was a solid call back to old Hollywood, with its cinched waist and cap sleeves. Predictably – and boringly – most commentary was focussed on Rebel’s recent weight loss, rather than her breathtaking gown or irreverent comedy. Snore.

But we also had Chrissy Metz, star of This Is Us, who arrived in a vibrant, breathtaking red gown. Women who look like Chrissy are so seldom shown in the media, that her inclusion in best dressed lists for this off-the-shoulder piece is EVERYTHING! I cannot overstate the importance of this moment – for plus size fashion and fat women alike.

Designed by Christian Sirano, a long time ally of curvier women, the dress was romantic and eye catching. Nothing about it asked Chrissy to blend in, to hide, to take up less space. And that message is invaluable for women who look like Chrissy, and are always being told that they need to make themselves smaller and less visible.

Meanwhile E! Correspondent Nina Parker took to social media to tell how she had designed and created her own dress with designer Lynne Carter Atelier, because plus size options on the red carpet are still so limited. Working the red carpet, Nina looked breathtaking in her dark blue dress that featured sheer long sleeves, a full shirt and deep V neckline.

This is a tale familiar to many women like me – until the recent surge in plus size bridal boutiques many curvy brides had no choice but to go the bespoke route as retailers just weren’t catering for them. Almost 20 years ago, when I was much smaller than I am now, while many of my friends were shopping for their leavers prom dresses, I knew I was going to have to go to a dress maker.

It’s frustrating that in 2020, top end designers, with very few exceptions, are still ignoring the fashion credentials of plus size celebs and the buying power of the fat pound.

Most continue to create for one very specific body type and beauty standard. One could be forgiven for assuming it’s because they don’t actually know how to dress plus size bodies, nor have the inclination to do so.  But how much longer must we put up with this? And when will we call it out for what it is – blatant fat phobia.

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