Forever 21's Plus-Size Instagram Has Outraged Women Everywhere

February 12th 2016

Lucy Tiven

It can be challenging for plus-size women to find stylish, well-fitting clothing in popular stores, and images of realistic curvy models often prove even more elusive. The brand Forever 21 created an Instagram account for its plus-size line three weeks ago, but many customers weren't happy with its portrayal of curvy women. Enraged commenters took issue with the company's body standards, which they believed mislabeled skinny or average-sized women as plus-size.

Forever 21 Plus Model

The account debuted with an image of model Ashley Graham, the first plus-size model to make it into Sports Illustrated's famous swimsuit edition. Graham's career has been hailed as a milestone for curvy women everywhere.

Ashley Graham

But customers took issue with some of the models, who they believed fell short of the mission to portray plus-size women rather than the thin models typical of the fashion industry.

Forever 21 Plus

"Omg how is this considered plus that girl is normally skinny," one commenter said.

"This is so depressing that she's considered plus sized," user gingerbunnie wrote. Another commenter replied, "I was her size in grade school and I thought I was fat because of advertising like this."

Some of the images that were received negatively have been deleted, according to AOL, but other posts were received warmly.

Forever 21 Plus

"I'm so happy that they are going make a lot of ladies happy like ME😍," paulineynpink wrote.

A similar controversy surfaced in 2014, when Myla Dalbesio made history as the face of a Calvin Klein campaign that was initially hailed as a victory for plus-size women.

Many women believed that labeling Dalbesio a plus-size woman set an unrealistic and offensive standard for women's bodies, especially since she wore a size 10. (The average size of the American woman is a size 14.) The model responded to the negative comments in a statement, explaining that while she didn't consider herself plus-size or a typical straight size model, she was happy to find her place in the industry and inspire young women to accept their bodies. "Neither plus, nor straight size, I love that I can be recognized for what I am, a healthy size 10," she said.

She explained why the discussion matters to her:

"I love that by opening this discussion, I can also (hopefully) open some doors for other models, friends of mine, that have always straddled the line between straight size and plus. True body diversity doesn't mean only sizes 0's and 2's then jumping to size 16 and up. There is a middle ground."

The Forever 21 Plus line is already available online and in stores. You can check out some of the looks on Instagram and on their website.