Fashion is a powerful form of expression but when it comes to Pakistan there has been a lack of diversity in size representation. Despite the ever-evolving fashion industry and its attempts to be inclusive, ‘plus size’ models are still not seen on the runways or with clothes available beyond large and extra large sizes in stores. We hate to break it to our local brands but the waist size of Pakistanis does not end at 34. Such underrepresentation can leave people feeling inadequate and discouraged. 

The world is making efforts to tackle body shaming. You visit any international clothing brand and you’ll find a section dedicated to plus-sized outfits.  On the contrary, in Pakistan, it is extremely rare to see an ‘all size’ representation at large, especially by major fashion brands; whether in campaigns or on the rack. Although most prét brands claim to be inclusive, yet they do not sell sizes beyond large and extra large.

Comedian and actor Faiza Saleem recently did a campaign for plus-sized clothing with Lulusar. Although the response was mostly positive, unfortunately there were also many derogatory comments on social media posts. Generation too has experimented with plus-size clothing which received a great reception but this awareness seems to end here.

The lack of plus-size representation and the unrealistic standards of beauty that we’ve been seeing for so many years are all products of an extremely patriarchal society. The clothes at local outlets are not made keeping Pakistani women in mind. Our bodies are not taken into consideration. As far as they’re concerned, we simply don’t exist.And at the end of the day, it all boils down to demand and supply. There is a demand so why is there no supply? Why don’t brands understand that there is an entire market of women that they are just completely ignoring, who will actually pay good money to buy clothes that properly fit them? Why, then, are they not being catered to? It’s simple economics.

Our media is the biggest influencer in this country and for far too long, the media has dangerously perpetuated a single ideal of beauty; one that is narrow-minded and exclusive to only those who fit within its rigid standards. This unattainable notion has produced detrimental outcomes such as eating disorders amongst young women pressured to achieve this ‘ideal’ size. It has also meant a severe lack of plus-size representation in our society—one that sadly reflects a deep patriarchal structure.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: we can create a better standard for ourselves by challenging these outdated views and demanding more from the brands we support. We have the power to shape the narrative around body positivity ensuring everyone feels worthy regardless of their shape or size. It’s time for us to do better.