AnyBody in Argentina: Changing the Face (and Body) of Fashion

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If I told you I recently came across a boutique where none of its dresses fit over my head would you believe me? If you’re a woman who wears a US size 8/10 or higher and who’s lived in Argentina for any length of time, you certainly would. In fact, you’d probably share a story or two of your own. After residing for more than a decade in Buenos Aires, I should know better than to even consider buying clothes in the country, especially considering I’m fortunate enough to be able to keep my wardrobe topped up on my regular Toronto trips to visit family and friends. However, every once in a while I succumb to the temptation of a pretty piece displayed in a store window, knowing full well I’ll need to shore up my self-esteem before reaching the changeroom. If it doesn’t fit me—and more often than not it doesn’t—I remind myself that my body isn’t defective, it’s the Argentine fashion industry that needs reform. And that’s something my team, AnyBody Argentina—the Argentine chapter of Endangered Bodies, an international organization that challenges the culture that teaches us to hate our own bodies—also understands.

On January 11, AnyBody Argentina launched our most recent campaign, El talle único no es el único talle (“One-Size-Fits-All Is Not the Only Size”), in which we recognized five national fashion brands for committing to stock a minimum range of seven sizes in the majority of its jeans and/or trousers, those being the items that Argentines have the most difficulty finding in their size as confirmed by our annual national surveys. In this first phase of Summer 2016, we congratulate Portofem, Taverniti, Florida Chic, Portsaid, and Yagmour for their wide range of sizes, the details of which can be found online in the voluntary agreement each brand signed. The public is able to identify these body-positive brands via a store window sticker, which carries the same name as our campaign.

Our focus on sizes isn’t anecdotal: approximately 65 percent of Argentine women have difficulty finding clothes in their size, a percentage that has remained more or less constant since 2012. The country’s first Ley de talles or Size Law, created to guarantee consumers an ample selection of sizes, was established in the province of Buenos Aires six years ago, a positive step toward eliminating weight discrimination in society.

It would be if the law were effectively enforced.

To complicate matters, additional size laws have since emerged in nine provinces and two municipalities, each mandating different norms, making it next to impossible for national or international fashion brands to fully comply.

Although offering a variety of sizes forms the foundation of our campaign, it isn’t just about supporting brands to comply with an inevitable national size law—the campaign aims to help incite a cultural shift in the representation of women’s bodies. The country’s existing lack of sizes in female fashion is intimately connected to how women’s bodies are presented in the media; more specifically, it’s linked to the glorification of one body type, namely white, tall, and skinny. Unfortunately, the regular exposure to this beauty norm is not benign: studies have established that continued consumption of the thin ideal can negatively impact body confidence in girls and women, in addition to being linked to low self-esteem and eating disorders.

It was with these sobering facts in mind that AnyBody Argentina expanded our vision to not only recognize brands that offer a wide selection of sizes, but to also highlight those which celebrate body diversity. More specifically, we’ve endorsed...

Continue reading at the Endangered Bodies blog.