Bear with me please, this is a longer post, and it kind of wanders, but I really needed to get some of this stuff written out here.
One thing that I've heard several times since I released Finn is, "Thank you so much for using a model that's shaped like me," and that's stirred up some feelings. My thoughts on bodies (and how cool they are) are on record, but there's still a part of me that recognizes that every time I take a picture of myself for a pattern or for the blog or for Instagram I am making a statement. I have complicated feelings about that.
I wish we were better about body diversity in knitwear (I wish we were better about diversity in general, but I can really only talk about body size from a firsthand perspective). Things are already so much better than they were when I started knitting, but there's still work to be done. There are still designers who won't grade a top above a 40-inch bust, and most knitwear models are on the smaller side. There are a bunch of inter-tangled reasons for this, and I've heard a lot of them. This conversation comes up a lot in the industry. I'm a bit guilty of it myself-I've more than once found myself thinking "I could knit sweaters so much faster if I was X-inches smaller."
I made the decision early on in my design career that I would model the majority of my samples. Part of it is convenience-I like to wear the things I make. But a lot of it was the recognition that I am one of the smallest knitters in my knit group in town. I'm in the smaller half of the group that meets up for Our Common Thread. I have a 44-inch bust, thank you very much, and many of the knitters I know are my size or significantly larger. So, I thought to myself, I could be alienating a lot of knitters if I made all my samples a size 36. I still think that's true, and given that I've heard "seeing a model that's close to my size/shape makes me more likely to buy this pattern" more than once since the Finn photos went up, I'm probably right.
I feel validated whenever someone thanks me for using a "model that looks like me-" I like to think that putting my self and my body out there is the right choice, but I also feel a bit sad that it should be so novel to see reflections of ourselves in the knitting industry. And honestly, there are tons of diversity issues in knitting other than body size, and I hate the thought that this wonderful thing that brings so many of us together ends up looking so much more homogeneous than it really is. And I don't want to sound like the knitting industry is getting everything wrong, because it's definitely not, I just would love even more of it, and I hate how the act of taking and posting pictures of myself is something that people feel they ought to thank me for.
I don't really have a nice way to wrap this up. It's a problem, and it's been a problem for a long time, and it will continue to be a problem unless we keep working through it as a community and figuring out how to showcase the diversity of the knitting community within the knitting industry. Conversations like this are hard, and fraught with emotion and history, but they are important.
Ultimately, what it comes down to for me is something I said in my last On Bodies post: "since all bodies are perfect and amazing and beautiful, everyone deserves clothes that fit them and that they feel comfortable in." I'd like to add to that: since all bodies are perfect and amazing and wonderful, everyone deserves to see images and reflections of themselves from within the industry.