Proud2Bme | Everyday Heroes Ensuring Anyone Can Be a Superhero

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Everyday Heroes Ensuring Anyone Can Be a Superhero

By Kira Rakova--Torrid, the plus-size clothing chain owned by Hot Topic, Inc., recently announced the release of various fandom-inspired dresses. Created in conjunction with Her Universe and Marvel, the new collection includes dresses inspired by Black Widow, Captain America, and even Star Wars.

Given that the Avengers-themed collection at Hot Topic was released earlier this year, this is a fantastic indication that the company is aiming to be more size inclusive. Even though the dresses are only available for a limited time and may only be ordered online, this is still a huge step in expanding the options available to those that wear plus-sizes. Especially since plus-sized items are typically designed to be in neutral colors and themes, as a result of pervasive, fat-phobic notions.

On a more symbolic level, Torrid’s new clothing line is radical in that it directly challenges the notion that superheroes must be of a certain size. Like athletes, models, celebrities, literary characters and other symbolically powerful individuals (real or imagined) within our society, superheroes are expected to be a certain size and shape. In making these dresses, which can easily double as costumes, Torrid made a symbolic statement to society that ANYONE can be a superhero. Or, in other words, anyone can embody the strength, courage, power, and other qualities that society deeply values in superheroes.

What makes this story particularly inspiring and empowering however, is that this new collection seems to be a result of social media activism.

Last year, Sarah Chiwaya, who runs the blog Curvily, started a movement with the hashtag #PlusSizePlease. The idea behind the campaign was to show designers that there is a heavy demand for plus-size clothing and that by expanding the size ranges of their clothing items, companies would benefit. Inspired to participate, many users started taking pictures of clothing items they would buy if it came in their size. Among the brands that responded positively was Hot Topic. In fact, Hot Topic initially responded to the campaign by expanding the size options of their Maleficent collection.

Perhaps then, it is possible that this new line of Marvel dresses is a result of this type of activism; Hot Topic indeed saw the demand for size inclusivity and actually did something about it. After all, even the Torrid VP of Marketing claimed that the creation of this line was a “no-brainer”, since so many of the company’s customers love superheroes.

But what then does this mean for the body-acceptance and positivity movement? To me it means two distinct things: the breaking of stereotypes (as I discussed earlier) and the importance of activism. In other words, I believe that this symbolic message of “anyone can be a superhero” is an accomplishment of everyday heroes.

I believe it is only through making our voices heard that we can combat sizeism, fatphobia, eating disorder stigma, etc. It is only through uplifting and supporting one another’s work that we can see positive change like the expansion of clothing lines. By joining forces together and being unapologetically ourselves, we can work toward not only tangible changes (like size availability expansion) but a radical re-defining of the perception of ourselves and our bodies. 

About this blogger: Kira is a senior studying at Macaulay Honors College at the City College of New York, majoring in International Studies and Media Communication Art, with a minor in Anthropology.  Her research interests include: gender justice, mental health justice, and community organizing.  Apart from school work, Kira is also a part of various community based advocacy organizations at City College of New York, including the Gender Resource Center Campaign and the Student Mental Health Initiative. In the future, Kira hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Anthropology. In particular, she hopes to explore how development organizations include and exclude mental health, in a culturally sensitive and intersectional manner.

Also by Kira:

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