#14 It's time to end fatphobia
Last week Heidi met with the wonderful, body positive advocate, Phoebe Jameson to talk about an issue that is constantly at the front of Heidi’s mind when designing for Aesthetic Laundry. Having both suffered with varying body issues, they decided to film an honest (and what is also an incredibly raw) conversation about Phoebe’s story surrounding her size, mental health, and how the fashion industry (along with many other industries) need to change in order for the stigma to change.
At first we had envisaged the video only being about ten minutes, but as soon as I began to watch the 45 minute version I was so enthralled that we made the decision to barely edit it down.
Phoebe and Heidi’s story started many years ago (as they often do!) when they met at a BBC Introducing event where Aesthetic Laundry had a stall. From there they stayed in touch and over the years they have separately been building upon their personal experiences and issues to try and tackle the stigma around women's sizing and its negative connotations. And it is their mutual understanding that the way the body is currently represented and talked about which has brought them back together.
During their conversation I was struck by how early on the body shaming and sizing issues began for both of them; in particular how it doesn’t just start and end with the fashion industry but the other industries and platforms that have, and still are, causing this stigma around sizing. Throughout the video the girls not only highlight the issues but try to tackle what more could be done. At one point they touch upon schools and as someone who mentors a teenage girl as part of the charity The Girls Network, I could not have been more acutely aware of how the struggles the girls discuss from their school days are still very much present at schools today.
But if it begins at school then where does it end? Is it any wonder girls are addressing size in school, when the terminology associated with sizing has such negative connotations? I understand the need to support in defining your size, but who are we to decide when someone is petite or curvy, plus size or tall? It is safe to say this is an open ended question. I don’t have the answer, and as you will see in the video, neither do Heidi or Phoebe. They are however taking whatever steps that they can to raise awareness around this important issue.
Phoebe is taking her personal journey to date and applying it to work with her local council to improve the services offered for the younger generation in regards to body image and mental health.
Meanwhile Heidi is relating these issues to Aesthetic Laundry. As a company we are by no means perfect, but we will continue to challenge ourselves to do better. Heidi has always wanted Aesthetic Laundry to represent ‘every’ size - because as she would say, there is no plus size, we are all just ‘A’ size. She strives to create confidence boosting clothing which people feel comfortable wearing no matter who they are.
A company goal for 2020 is to prove that fashion can be fun whilst also being inclusive. This ranges from the pieces we design through to the women represented on our platforms.
I think it’s safe to say that no one will ever be perfect, but keeping the conversation open, talking to women like Phoebe who can add context to an issue which is still overlooked, pushes us to do better.
If you do one thing this week, I would highly recommend giving the video a watch. If you can’t manage the full 35 minute conversation there is a 10 minute highlights which I'm sure you can squeeze into your commute home.
I speak on behalf of the three of us at Aesthetic Laundry, when I say we were so moved by Phoebe’s story. To be able to talk about something so personal, with the honesty and eloquence that Phoebe has is inspiring in itself.
To watch Heidi’s full interview with Phoebe click here.
To watch the 10 minute highlight video with Phoebe click here.
As always if you have any thoughts or comments, or even suggestions as to how Aesthetic Laundry can do more around this subject please don’t hesitate to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org