Well, this is major news. Earlier today, New York University announced that their Costume Studies program’s annual exhibition will be exploring a topic we at RunwayRiot are very passionate about: curvy women in the fashion industry. The exhibition is called Beyond Measure: Fashion and the Plus-Size* Woman, and it promises to school you on the history of the “plus size” woman in fashion and to “explore the shifting discourse surrounding the plus-size woman in relation to fashion and the body.”
On the incorporation of the asterisk next to the term “plus size” in the exhibition title, the press release notes that the term is a loaded cultural construct that not everyone’s down with, but the curators felt the term was necessary to use as it relates to fashion. I appreciate the careful consideration there, NYU.
And if costume exhibitions sound less exciting than picking cat hairs off your grandma’s sofa, just wait. Beyond Measure is going to touch on how the fashion gives women of size the short end of the stick. Maybe after a little academic analysis, it might make more sense to us (but probably not).
The exhibition press release says:
“The fashion industry has played an undeniable role in enabling the stigmatization of larger women’s bodies. Despite consumer needs, plus-size fashion has traditionally been given little sartorial energy. Yet women of all physiques have had to clothe themselves, and thus have stood somewhere in relation to the fashion system. The plus-size woman’s place within the history of the body and her space within the fashion industry is presented here through a diverse set of objects emphasizing her relationship to gender and body politics as well as cultural attitudes toward beauty and health.”
If you’re like us and haven’t heard the term “body politics” since you were slumping in your seat in the back of a dingy classroom, you might be a little intimidated by the academic jargon. But this is way more exciting than any fifty minute lecture. The fact that a costume program at a major university is deeming fashion and curvier women as a subject important enough to explore in great detail matters. Imagine all the dialogues this will create. IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES.
We’re glad to see the academics are practicing the fine art of inclusion, and we’re excited to nerd out at this exhibition. Merry Christmas to us.