The average American woman is a size 16, according to a September study published in "The International Journal of Fashion, Design, Technology, and Education." Yet, the notoriously thin-obsessed fashion world fails to reflect that reality time and time again.
The blatant erasure of plus-size women is especially evident on magazine covers. Although 2016 is considered a banner year for inclusion on magazine covers, The Fashion Spot found that only six of 2016's 679 covers were given to women over a size 12.
Plus-size women didn't even account for 1% of all magazine covers in 2016.
Plus-size retailer navabi noticed the exclusion of plus-size women in magazines — and decided to launch a viral campaign to combat it.
The #MorePlusPlease campaign aims to bring awareness to the invisibility of plus-size women in media, especially on magazine covers.
"At navabi we sell clothing in sizes 14+. We're proud of our ethos that fashion should not be limited by size," the retailer wrote on the campaign website. "But every time we open a magazine we're reminded the 'industry' does not always agree with us. We believe it's time to change that."
Navabi found that within America's major magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Elle, InStyle, Marie Claire, and Vogue, only 2% of editorials feature plus-size women.
"A lot of the most important conversations happen online, but mainstream media like fashion magazines is still a really valuable barometer for where people's minds are at," navabi social editor Bethany Rutter told Revelist. "Being excluded and othered from publications that claim to represent women is just one of the many ways in which plus size women are treated badly, and we think it's important that women's magazines recognize there is still a long way to go to rebalance this."
To draw attention to the issue, navabi asked plus-size bloggers and models, including Callie Thorpe, Chloe Pierre, and Stephany Zwicky, to recreate several magazine covers.
The goal is to force magazines to reckon with how their purposeful exclusion harms plus-size women.
"Our end goal is to, hopefully, make publications take a look at themselves and go 'yes, we could do more in this area. There are stories we're not telling,'" Rutter explained. "As far as we're concerned, the onus is not on the average woman to do anything, the onus is very much on media to recognize they're not telling important stories of brilliant, amazing women."
Unfortunately, the erasure of plus-size women in magazines mirrors an overall lack of coverage, according to Rutter.
"When we reach out to the press, we're often told about the problems of clothing sample size," she said. "It feels as if, even in 2017, sample size still has this stranglehold on the way fashion coverage works. The covers we've recreated show the vibrancy and the spark and the diversity that you can bring in if the industry finds a way to think beyond sample size, or work around it."
#MorePlusPlease is calling the magazine industry's bluff. Clearly, plus-size women can sell a magazine cover. So, what's the real reason for exclusion?
"Acknowledging and championing plus-size role models reminds us that being plus-size isn't just a temporary pit stop on the road to becoming one of the women who does get featured in magazines," Rutter explained. "It says you can have a full and interesting life as a plus-size woman, and a life that people are interested in hearing about."
To rectify this glaring issue, navabi wants magazines to hire more plus-size women, champion them on covers, and make a concerted effort to be inclusive.
"If the best media comes out of a 'nothing about us without us' policy, then having talented plus-size women in the world of women's media will almost certainly make it better," Rutter said. "You're more likely to talk about issues that affect us and cover them in a nuanced, sensitive, powerful way. It really works!"
Watch Navabi's full #MorePlusPlease campaign video:
Revelist has reached out to Callie Thorpe for comment.