Is plus-size modeling really that different from straight-size modeling?
Being a plus-size model does differ in many ways from being a straight-size model, although it all depends on what kind of modeling you are doing. As someone who is a size 20-22 dress size, I tend to fit the “norm” when it comes to the standard of plus-size women. I’m the kind of girl who buys and wears the clothing from the plus-size retail companies, and so I feel confident in my size. I can lose or gain a bit of weight, and I still represent the everyday plus-size woman. Companies are also starting to hire women of a “bigger size” to represent their brands (Chubby Cartwheels and Domino Dollhouse, for instance) because they know that these kinds of women represent their clientele. However, models who fit the “professional standard” of plus-size modeling (so women who are a size 12 or 14) may feel they have to maintain their weight as to fit the more strict standards that the fashion industry demands.
How do you cope with people who say you’re too small to be considered a plus-size model? Or too big to be a model in general?
Well, I can certainly say that I have never been told that I am too small to be a plus-size model, being the height and size that I am! But as to when someone comments that I am too big to be a model, I can immediately direct them to a plethora of models such as Velvet d’Amour, Tess Munster, and myself, who have done professional work for runways and/or websites for so many plus-size retail companies. Being told that I am too big to be a plus-size model is just ignorance, really. Plus size models do come in all different shapes and sizes — and we have the models to prove it!
If you had to pick a term to describe your size, what would it be?
I really like them all, for different reasons. My usual go-to word would be “plus-size," but I usually use that term when I’m referring to clothing. I love “fuller-figured” (it’s just so picturesque!) and “curvy” to describe a woman’s body. They suggest a certain “sexy” flare. But I also love the word “fat” when being casual, as in, “Look at that pretttyyyyy fat girl!” It provides a positive meaning to the word and gives it positive power.
What are your thoughts on using the word “fat” in a positive connotation? Do you think we can take it back, and stop it from being a wounding tactic?
I’ve been asked this before, but when I hear this, I just think about how society has been a bit brain-washed when it comes to this word. People are taught (yes, fat-hate and shame is a learned thing) that fat is a negative word. Thus, it confuses most people when this word is used as a positive description. But that’s all it is: a description. It’s no different than saying tall, short, blonde, brunette, thin… it’s simply a word describing someone’s appearance. And since it’s not a negative thing to be fat, it’s not a negative word. It’s very similar to what happened with the word “gay.” “Gay” went from being a word associated with negativity and shame, and now has been taken back and used as a harmless, positive descriptor for people who are homosexual. Us fat people can most definitely take the word back, take the negative power away from it and make it a harmless, descriptive word, too. It’s already happening! You can’t stop the Fats!
Do you think a higher level of size-acceptance will ever be possible?
It’s already happening! We, as a plus-size community, are too strong of a force to stop. We can feel resistance here and there from people, and that’s normal during a revolution. We have fought to be heard, fought for our rights to not be shamed for our bodies – and we ARE being heard. Women are empowering one another. Plus-size clothing companies are booming. Many “straight-sized” companies are expanding their sizes, or now offer a “plus-size section.” We are seeing more commercials on TV with women of size, more shows on the media showcasing women of size and articles popping up all over the internet about the Size Acceptance Movement. Not to mention the vast population of plus-size women blogging, modeling, protesting, or doing whatever they can to fight the good fight. Do you think, after coming this far, we’re going to back down now? The answer is no, of course not. We are too strong and beautiful and good of a force, and we will continue to take back and own our power as the Plus Size Community.
How do you respond to all the, “You’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” accusations?
Girl, I loathe this as much as you do. I assume it’s the same reaction from gays who hear, “But aren’t you afraid of AIDS and promoting an unsafe lifestyle?” It’s ridiculous. You simply cannot judge one’s health and lifestyle by just looking at their weight — and even if you could, being “overweight” or “not up to someone’s personal health standards” does NOT equate to the right for someone to shame that person, or accuse them of anything. Also, being proud, confident, and happy about yourself and your body is NOT the same thing as “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.” No one is saying, “Hey! Go out and never take care of yourself and get unhealthy! It’s okay,” when we post pictures of ourselves in fatkinis or in our sexy underwear. Everyone has their flaws, their imperfections, whether fat or skinny or shiny or spiky. And that’s what we represent. Loving those imperfections. Being confident and proud and loving your special body. Not to mention, when people of size can be confident and proud of their bodies and truly love themselves, that improves the state of their mental and emotional health. Health can’t be determined from looking at someone’s physical status alone. Also, I know that personally, when I love my body, I’m more likely to take care of it. Think of all the people starving themselves, or over-exercising and straining their bodies in an unhealthy way, just so that they can be skinny and free from shame and ridicule? The notion is absolutely, bloody ridiculous.
What do you think about the age-old, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” comment?
Haha, oh, this. You know, I do believe that this ignorance is usually said with good intentions. What’s happening here is that you are breaking a stereotype. The person saying this obviously has the pre-conceived notion that fat equals ugly, always. So when someone says, “You’re pretty for a big girl,” what they are really saying is, “You’re pretty AND you’re a big girl and my pre-conceived notion is being broken at this moment.” But it comes out kinda douchey. Because there is no pretty FOR a big girl — there’s just pretty. Pretty, big, girl. See, we all know this, but there are a lot of people still catching on. Try not to be too offended by this, as in the end, it could be a positive thing. You could be teaching an ignorant person that fat does also equal pretty. It may not come out in the right way, but if you hear this, take it as a compliment it’s used for and just try and keep promoting fat beauty and changing minds wherever you go!
Image: Courtney Mina/The Glitter Thread