This year’s Grammys are a big deal for Bebe Rexha. The singer will be attending the awards show on Feb. 10 as a first-time nominee for Best New Artist and Country Duo/Group Performance for the song, “Meant to Be.” Except the search for the perfect dress to wear on the big night has thrown a wrench in her plans.
Yesterday, the 29-year-old took to social media to share that designers wouldn’t dress her because she’s “too big.” In an Instagram video, she says, “So I finally get nominated at the Grammys, and it’s like the coolest thing ever. And a lot of times artists will go and talk to designers, and they’ll make them custom dresses to walk the red carpet, right? Like, you go to any big designer. So I had my team hit out a lot of designers, and a lot of them do not want to dress me because I’m too big. Literally, like, I’m too big.”
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Im sorry, I had to get this off my chest. If you don’t like my fashion style or my music that’s one thing. But don’t say you can’t dress someone that isn’t a runway size. Empower women to love their bodies instead of making girls and women feel less then by their size. We are beautiful any size! Small or large! Anddddd My size 8 ass is still going to the Grammys. #LOVEYOURBODY
She goes on to share, “If a size 6/8 is too big, then I don’t know what to tell you. Then I don’t want to wear your fucking dresses because that’s crazy ’cause you’re saying that all the women in the world that are a size 8 and up are not beautiful and they cannot wear your dresses.”
Since her post, several celebrities, like Demi Lovato, Tyra Banks and Mayim Bialik, have shown the star their support. Rexha’s also received offers from some more size-inclusive designers, including Christian Siriano, Michael Costello and New York-based Canadian Tanya Taylor, who wrote, “We would LOVE to design something custom for you!!”
The blow-up is reminiscent of when Leslie Jones took to Twitter in 2016 to call out designers for refusing to dress her for the premiere of Ghostbusters. Christian Siriano quickly came to her aid, putting her in a custom red off-the-shoulder gown. But her rant sparked a conversation about the lack of size inclusivity in the fashion industry and its general apathy when it comes to designing anyone who wouldn’t fit in a sample size.
Why are we, in 2019, still having this conversation? Even though Rexha’s story will have a happy ending, her grievance shows that little has changed over the past few years, despite larger conversations around the need to cater to all body types. Just this past December, Megan Mullally—host of this year’s SAG Awards—revealed that she’s often had to buy her dresses off the rack because designers won’t dress her, either—and Christian Siriano came to the rescue yet again.
Which leads to the question: Why is Siriano often the only designer stepping up? He shouldn’t have to be the unofficial ambassador for body positivity and size inclusivity in the fashion industry, effectively giving other designers a free pass to ignore the dressing needs of the majority of women.
Rexha’s situation is particularly emblematic of the prevailing problems with perpetuating negative body image in the fashion industry. On her Instagram caption, she writes, “Empower women to love their bodies instead of making girls and women feel less then [sic] by their size. We are beautiful any size! Small or large!” If the Grammy-nominated chart-topper—who says she is between a size 6 and 8—is considered “too big,” what message does this send to all women, especially those who are sizes 10 and up?
Female celebrities who don’t fit the mould of the industry standard shouldn’t have to try twice as hard to find the dress of their dreams. It denies them their well-earned fairytale moment and casts a shadow over their success. Neither size nor a designer gown should determine their self-worth.
When will we start holding designers accountable for their lack of action? The fashion industry’s mea culpas are all too easily forgiven and forgotten, like kinks in fabric ironed out like they were never there. They say old habits die hard, but in 2019, that’s a sorry excuse.