As someone who has struggled with body image issues my whole life, nothing makes me happier than the fact that plus-size modeling is such an important part of the modeling industry today. In fact, plus-size modeling is actually the fastest growing sector of the modeling industry. Never before has there been such acceptance, support and high demand for fuller figures, and it is a beautiful thing.
This means that if you are a more voluptuous and curvy individual like me and you know how to work those said-curves, the world of modeling is open to you, and you can find a lot of success. No more being limited by body fat ratios or long skinny legs. It’s ok to have boobs and asses and hips. After all, it’s way more realistic.
I know the vast majority of us all used to look at the models in magazines and ad campaigns and wish with an ache in our hearts that we were as skinny or as beautiful as those girls. I still catch myself doing it sometimes. Then I remember our culture today is trying to redefine beauty, and just because I am not tall and thin it doesn’t mean I am not enough. Now, I walk through stores and see more models who look like me, and I think about the fact that we have the women who never let anyone in the modeling industry tell them no to thank for that.
Whether you call it plus-size, full-figured, extended-size or large-size modeling, the market for curvy models is incredibly diverse. Plus-size models can be found on runways, in catalogs, in magazine editorials, in commercial advertisements and in print campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands and designers. There’s even a need for plus size fit and showroom models!
Ashley Graham, of course, is the most well-known for championing the body positive movement. Just this year, Graham made her debut in Vogue Italia in a series of unretouched photos and broke barriers as the first plus model to appear in Sports Illustrated. The 30-year-old is vocal both about her own journey to self-acceptance as well as why the fashion industry must serve plus women. Now, in 2018, no norm is the new norm in terms of body image. Media has absolutely changed in the last few years with television, films, books and advertising all offering a greater diversity of body types.
The average body type in America is a size 16 around the waist, but Victoria Secret Angels are expected to have size 2 bodies. This explains why the majority of us feel inadequate when we see ads featuring super thin models — but that’s not to say that those models are not beautiful as well. The rise of plus-size modeling is not an either or scenario; it’s merely a way to bring acceptance and attention to all body types and to recognize that we all are different shapes and sizes, and as long as you are healthy, then you should never be made to feel that you are ugly because of the type of body you have.
I’m looking forward to the future generations who will grow up seeing plus-size models everywhere. They won’t feel like their bodies are inferior anymore and they will have a better chance at having that self-confidence that is necessary to become a successful model. We are making the future of modeling brighter for our children.
Fashion brands have started reaching out to plus-size models, and stores are expanding their plus-size sections. However, visibility still may not be enough. There’s still a lot of work to be done. For one, the term plus-size is just a way to categorize a body type that is not universally accepted. Once we remove this term, have modeling be called modeling and see all kinds of body types, then we have truly achieved acceptance.
Psychologists have proven that weight-based bias, or prejudice against people of heavier weight, can begin as early as age 3. The fashion industry’s active inclusion of diverse body shapes, from size 4 to size 14 to size 24, can help reverse the damaging effects of this body-discrimination. But the fashion industry, clothing stores and model agencies still have a long way to go.
There are companies that are embracing plus-size models such as MiLK, a new modeling agency that has hired multiple plus-size women as influencers. They proclaim that “no two models should be alike.”
What can we do to change the industry? Keep modeling. Encourage one another, be accepting and always go after your goals even when people tell you no. Beauty goes beyond looks. Beauty lies in our expressions, our small details that are uniquely us and the way we carry ourselves in the face of body discrimination. So never change your body for someone else because they tell you that you should look a certain way. Instead, only change it if you want to do that for yourself. Because true confidence and happiness can only come from within. The day size stops to matter, is forgotten and not acknowledged is the day that we have beat negative body image. Let’s get there together.