A change is afoot in the fashion industry and it’s evolving to include women of all nationalities. With a growing global demand from consumers for a greater range of clothing sizes and a more diverse representation of body shapes in the media to reflect their own, Indian fashion mag Elle has heeded the call in a stunning shoot for their latest issue.
Opting for real women rather than models, the stunning subjects have a diverse array of professions among them, but all of them have a strong sense of fashion and know how to work it with confidence. Here’s the line-up that was featured:
Fashion blogger Gia Kashyap
Kashyap told Elle: "I recently posted a picture of a pizza and a girl commented, ‘You should go to the gym’. Now I’m immune to such comments. It doesn’t make me feel ugly, in fact it’s pushed me to a stage where I appreciate myself more.”
Kashyap’s stunning Instagram is testament to her fabulous style:
Makeup artist Kritika Gill
“My mom used to buy me clothes that covered my butt, but I never understood why I had to hide it,” Gill tells the magazine. “I like the way it looks — it’s well rounded.”
Gill’s client list includes magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, Verve, Hollywood Reporter and iD, but her website explains that “While her portfolio boasts of a variety of projects, her favourites still remain ones that take place in the streets of the city, around the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”
Digital Entrepreneur Zahra Khan
“Why aren’t we defined by what we do? You won’t define a business magnate like Mukesh Ambani as short and fat. I don’t see curvy men having a movement.”
Khan knows a thing or two about both fashion and business too, having founded her own successful fashion website The Hauterfly.
Stylist and fashion consultant Srishti Kumar
“I don’t dress for shock value, but I enjoy dressing in clothes that aren’t conventionally meant for my body type. I love my body and I won’t change it to fit what’s available in stores,” Kumar told Elle.
Originally a fashion designer, the Mumbai-based Kumar now works as a stylist and fashion consultant.
Actor Shikha Talsania
“When I started acting, my vanity blossomed and I understood my body better. I am what I am and I’m fine with it.”
Speaking to the Times of India in 2011, Talsania said: "I don't want to be the fat girl who licks her lips when she's hungry or horny…. I am a plus-sized actor. My size is secondary. Fat girls also fall in love, yaar. They also have friends, and dress well. Luckily, there are many scripts that tell the truth - in every size, shape and form."
Hospitality consultant Tinka Bhatia
Bhatia told Elle that she tends to avoid oversized clothes designed to hide her body. “I don’t restrict myself to trends. I love wearing short stuff because I like how my legs look or a low-neck to highlight my décolletage.”
The stylist behind the Elle India shoot is fashion editor Nidhi Jacob, who previously also had her own fashion blog, The Hidden Button, where she shared her love of loose, flowing clothing.
“Being plus-size myself, I was kind of in awe of the confidence of the girls we shot – zero awkwardness, just pure star quality. Made me realise that it’s time I shed those baggy layers of clothes.”
The Elle spread is just the latest step amid the slowly turning tide toward a greater representation of a variety of bodies in Indian and Asian fashion. Another recent victory was the debut of Bishamber Das in the UK as Britain's first Asian plus-size model.
Currently starring in a fashion campaign by UK plus-size website Yours Clothing as well as featuring in fashion magazine Paper, 29 year Das, who is of Indian/Malaysian heritage, rose to prominence in 2014 when she became the first plus size model to win a title the Miss India Europe competition.
“I was sick of people looking at my physical appearance and deciding I was not worth anything when in fact I was a bright young woman who had already achieved so much in her academic and professional life,” Das told the magazine.
“It is about time a woman of my colour came forward and showed the world real diversity.”