Lena Dunham’s new fashion collaboration, designed to improve the availability of high fashion to plus-sized women, is facing a strong backlash from woke critics who claim the line, designed in partnership with the website 11 Honore, just isn’t inclusive enough.
Dunham’s “tightly edited” collaboration with the high fashion site, which features capsule collections of “expanded size range” clothing from designers like Diane Von Furstenburg, Christian Siriano, Mara Hoffman, and Dolce & Gabbana, features just five pieces to start, ranging in price from $98 to $298, though those five pieces are available in sizes 14-26.
11 Honore touted the line as a major fashion achievement.
“We took a lot of time perfecting the grade up to a size 26 which included multiple fittings on a range of women from size 12-26 with varying body shapes. Our ultimate goal is to dress as many women as possible and we are completely open to expanding past size 26 in the future!” the online fashion outlet noted in its statement.
“Right now the only thing I’m doing is speaking about my own experience,” Dunham told the New York Times about the collection, which, she added, filled a gap in her own wardrobe. “So this clothing line is a direct response to my experience.”
It isn’t a direct response to everyone’s lived experience, though, according to woke critics who took aim at Dunham’s collection immediately after it launched, because the line stops at size 26, and that’s just not large enough for some women. So, critics say, Dunham really should not have labeled her five pieces part of an “inclusive” effort.
“The simple solution is not to call it ‘inclusive,’” one celebrity stylist told entertainment media, adding that Dunham’s efforts were “tone-deaf.” “When something is called inclusive and stops at 26, it excludes a large portion of the plus-size community, and the most desperate for pieces like these, those over a size 26.”
In fact, the stylist added, Dunham is actually “privileged” for being able to connect with a fashion outlet to produce her line. Dunham, the stylist said, should acknowledge “her continued privilege in the industry and now the plus size fashion industry.”
A writer at HuffPo echoed the critique.
“The backlash against the limited size range of 14–26 was pretty immediate. Now, to be fair to Dunham, I have not seen her refer to her line as ‘inclusive,’” the writer noted. “However, 11 Honoré calls itself “a size-inclusive shopping site” in its mission statement — while also listing a size range of 12–24.”
“I personally don’t believe ‘inclusive’ can apply to sites that cater to a limited size range that excludes both larger and smaller sizes. That position may be somewhat controversial, but to me, ‘inclusive fashion’ looks like a brand like SmartGlamour, by Mallorie Dunn, which has a preset size range from XXS – 15X, but additionally offers complete customization of every piece sold, each of which is made to order,” the writer continued. “Simply put, the goal of ‘inclusive fashion’ should be to actually include every body type.”
Critics are also concerned with Dunham even calling herself “plus-sized,” given that she refers to her own weight gain as being the result of taking steroids for ongoing health issues, and Dunham advertises herself as a size 14-16, which HuffPo’s writer does not consider officially “fat.”
By the entertainment industry’s standards, Dunham might be considered “fat.” I do not doubt for a moment that she has felt the vociferous backlash of being in a larger body in an industry that seems to consider women “plus-size” when they’re a mere size 8.
In her personal and professional world, Dunham may be the “biggest” one in a lot of rooms, but there’s still no denying that compared to many of us, she benefits from tremendous privilege where her size is concerned — even if she can’t see it.
This taps into one of Dunham’s biggest problems; the one that is the source of many of her self-created controversies. She seems to exist in a bubble; her vision made myopic by virtue of privilege. I suppose that is why, over the course of a few sentences, when talking about her belly, she informs us that this is where she’s always gained weight.
Critics on social media echoed HuffPo’s concerns, writing that Dunham is misinformed about what is considered “plus-sized.”
“Lena Dunham is making a plus-size clothing line that only goes up to a size 26. That’s… not a plus-sized line. That’s a mid-size line with limited, extended sizing,” one Twitter critic noted.
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