Discover more from InnovateHer
How Innovation Can Combat Fatphobia
Last week, I shared why BMI is bogus. Now, let’s talk about how we can use innovation to combat fatphobia and design solutions for bodies of all sizes.
I am a huge fan (and customer) of Universal Standard, a denim and clothing brand named after the company’s innovative measurement system. Since 67% of American women wear a size 14 or larger, Universal Standard’s “medium” starts at size 16. What’s more, all of their clothes come in sizes 00 to 40. They even offer a shopping program that lets you swap sizes for free within one year of purchase, great for people experiencing rapid weight gain or loss.
As someone who’s been all sorts of sizes throughout my life, it is a RELIEF to easily shop for clothes that fit my changing body. Why must this be so novel?
Fatphobia is a bias that we’ve all grown up with. I think the default of “Skinny is best” keeps us from innovating for the majority of Americans who need better solutions not just for their clothes, but for their bodies and their daily lives.
What if we used innovation to combat fatphobia and change people’s minds, not only of how they see each other but of how they see themselves? It is empowering for me to see an Athleta advertisement featuring a full-figured athlete in action, just as it’s been empowering for teenagers to see Aerie ads that aren’t airbrushed. While those ads are starting to change the narrative, they’re not going far enough.
We as innovators can design so many solutions, starting with airplane seatbelts that comfortably fit most Americans! But what about reimagining office desks and chairs? Blood pressure cuffs? Disposable medical gowns?
When everyday activities are a reminder of your “otherness” even though you are in the majority, that is a societal problem. Nevertheless, it is a problem that innovators like us can solve with empathy, creativity, and dignity.