Whilst the fashion industry is currently obsessed with size zero models, and fashion has seemingly always catered to the image of the smaller woman (or man, for that matter, although it always seems to be women, sadly), the real world (and real people) can be somewhat different, and a number of plus size clothing outlets exist, both online and in the high street. It is simply a matter of knowing where to look.

Of course, your choices will depend upon which end of the market one's going for, of course; tailors and custom clothes makers will always be able to cater for plus size clothing, because they are making them from scratch. Increasingly, however, in recent years plus size clothing has undergone something of a revolution, and it has become more easily available, both on the high street and online. This has happened in a number of ways, first through specialist stores, but it has started to happen more and more in the mainstream clothes shops as well. There are even fashion ranges being designed by larger women, for larger women. There are more and more examples, as well- outsize rock stars being offered the chance to design clothing lines, women (and men- this isn't just a feminist issue!) of all shapes and sizes are being shown in the media. What has fuelled this revolution?

There are a number of factors that have led to this. Whilst it would be nice to say that idealism has been the driving force behind this change in attitudes, it is far more pragmatic than that. The prime motivation for any large profit-making organisation is always going to be money, and with that in mind, it has simply been the realisation that there is a market out there. If consumers want something, then eventually companies, or at least smart companies, will eventually cotton on to this fact, and provide that.

This brute fact of economics shouldn't take away from the fact that there was also something of a DIY revolution- people working independently to make the kind of things they want available to themselves and people like them. Specialist plus size clothing shops and online stores filled a gap in the market, as individuals always do, faster than companies ever could, and did a lot to help generate enthusiasm. This was a matter of simple consumer choice, but it was also a case of people addressing the real problem of the distortion that fashion magazines and so on create- inaccurate images of small women. More positive role models exist, which in some ways sounds patronising, but it is definitely true that different sized women are being portrayed more often in popular media. Recently, the fashion industry has started to face up to the issue that the image of women that has tended to be seen on the catwalks was not the healthiest. This has come, as the result of pressures from within and without, and the results for women are entirely positive.


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