As Fashion Week begins, so sets in an unsettling reality: The size-inclusivity pendulum has clearly started swinging in the wrong direction. The presence of plus-size models on the runway seemed to surge a few years ago, only to noticeably dwindle in recent seasons. It’s disheartening and it’s disappointing, but it’s not a sign of defeat when other voices in fashion are making an attempt to prioritize size inclusivity — namely, Pinterest.
Pinterest announced on Thursday, September 7, that it has rolled out new AI technology that can identify various body types among the billions of images across the virtual vision-boarding platform. The goal is to shape how its algorithms “increase representation across related feeds and search results for women’s fashion and wedding-related content,” according to a press release. In other words, you should start seeing more images of mid- and plus-size bodies without having to type in those terms in the search bar.
“Pinterest users have been looking for more representation on the platform without the need to use qualifying terms in their searches,” says Pinterest’s head of inclusive product, Annie Ta, who notes that this seemed like the natural next step after Pinterest’s previous strides in inclusivity technology, such as beauty search results filtered by skin tone and hair texture. “We worked closely with our plus-size creators to shape the product development and ensure a better product experience for Pinners.”
That collaboration began less than a year ago, Ta says. “At that time, we were simply trying to understand how Pinners were using our product and how our products failed them,” she explains. And now that it has launched, Ta says, “We improved representation of different bodies by 454 percent on women’s fashion-related searches and 772 percent on women’s fashion-related feeds.”
Those are extremely impressive numbers, but based on our own searches, the difference may not be immediately apparent. Our searches for “wedding guest looks,” “apple picking outfits,” and “game day styles” brought up images of predominantly thin and white women. That said, searches for “fall fashion” and “summer looks” produce more diverse results.
When Allure reached out to Pinterest for clarification on whether or not the new technology is fully active yet, a representative shared that “the experience hasn’t rolled out to all searches yet,” and you may see results that are more representative of some bodies than others. “Since we just started rolling out these changes, you can expect the experience to improve over the next couple of months.”