Denise Bidot, Felicity Hayward and 5 More Plus-Size Models Answer Frequently Asked Questions About the Industry Honestly (and Profoundly)
If you're a woman who grew up after the '60s (post-Twiggy), chances are you were exposed to a whole lot of imagery of slender women and one very linear ideology of beauty. From television to magazine covers, the entertainment and fashion industries have been permeated by one vision of womanhood, usually in the shape and form of a statuesque, size 2 bombshell. The thing is, whilst this type of woman is certainly beautiful, she's not the only kind of beautiful.
Because women come in all shapes and sizes, it has always seemed logical that the fashion world should embrace that fact and replicate it in its choice of models. But that's never quite been the case — until recently, that is. Maybe it was Vogue Italia's memorable June 2011 cover, which featured three plus-size models on its cover. Perhaps it's been the indisputable and powerful influence of plus-size bloggers. Perhaps it's the slow incorporation of plus-size female celebrities on television shows and in films. Or the sheer force and love demonstrated by body positive and fat positive activists. For whatever reason, plus-size modeling (and plus-size fashion) has been undergoing a remarkable transformation in recent years.
Despite that positive transformation, however, people have taken qualms with many things when it comes to using the term "plus-size" within the industry. Often, plus-size models are still quite thin and statuesque — closer to the prototypical size 2 in the fashion world rather than the national average of 14 to 16. As a result, these plus-size models get hate for being "too small" to represent fuller-figured women. They get told that they couldn't possibly understand the struggles of being fat, when they've so obviously been granted a certain level of thin-privilege for existing at a smaller size (even though all women experience body confidence issues, regardless of weight). But then there's the opposite side of the spectrum, coated by accusations of the "promotion of obesity" (code for the "promotion of daring to be fat and happy") from those who link a higher weight to automatically reduced health or whatever other chain of bull-shitty and nonsensical stereotypes are associated with the fuller form.
The reality is that no matter how small or big you might be, someone will always find fault with your body. Someone will always tell you that you're not good enough. People will pick apart women like Myla Dalbesio and insult her career by claiming she just isn't big enough to represent women, even though she's so clearly talented and stunning. And even though there is no one way to represent women.
Since plus-size modeling started becoming more prominent, what's really captivated me is the variety in size and style of its models. Say what you will about the fashion industry's skewed views on the definition of "plus-size." But the industry is doing something right. In showcasing models ranging from a size 10 to a 28, something new and important and magical is happening. More types of women are being represented. More types of role models for young girls are getting a platform. And more types of beauty — and the subsequent message that beauty isn't just a linear, definable thing — are finally being seen. All that being said, here is what seven plus-size models I personally admire have to say about all this and more.
Image: Victoria Janashvili