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When it Comes To Models, What Exactly Is “Plus-Size”?

Source: Refinery 29
In the last couple of years, plus-size models have gone from being novelties in high-fashion shows and couture, to being included in mainstream campaigns and editorials in nearly every glossy from Glamour Magazine to Vogue Italia. But, it’s nearly impossible to even mention the words “plus-size” without stirring up a bit of controversy; whether they come under scrutiny for being too thin, too fat, or too “normal.”

We talked to some thought leaders in the plus-size community to have them weigh in on the issue. Read through their opinions, and then let us know what you think about plus-size models and representation.

What is the range in sizes for a “plus” model? How is that range determined? 

Madeline Figueroa-Jones, Editor-in-Chief of Plus Model Magazine : “At the moment, plus-size models range from size 10 to 16. There are a few size six, eight, 18, and 20 models working, but very few and far between.
“I wish I knew who exactly was determining the size of plus-size models. Whenever I ask a brand, they tell me the agencies don’t have high-caliber bigger models. When I speak to agencies, they tell me that the clients are calling for smaller models, so I’m not exactly sure what is going on. All I know is that I can’t get a clear answer from anyone.”

Images via Plus Model Magazine, July Issue. 

What kind of role do you think diversity (body type, ethnicity, etc.) plays in the fashion industry as a whole?
MFJ: “I would think that model diversity should be a key factor for brands and designers. For example, I have to be mindful of ethnicity and sizes of models for the magazine. If I use too many of anything, the emails start to come in asking about when they are going to see more red-heads, bigger models, etc. Plus-size women want to see themselves being represented within the companies they support. Look at the Dove campaign and United Colors of Benetton—why are we not seeing a rainbow of colors and sizes as we did in the past? This is what attracted us to the brand and designers in the very beginning. The plus-size customer used to be silent and took whatever was given to them, but since the fashion market has exploded in the past five years, they are choosy and shop all over the globe.”

Images via Plus Model Magazine, July Issue.

Do you think there will come a time when models won’t be distinguished by their size or body type?
MFJ: “I think that when society no longer distinguishes people by size and color, we could possibly see a change. In the meantime, plus-size fashion needs plus-size models in order to sell to the customer. This is not about models, it’s about how the plus-size woman is marketed to.

“I read a lot of the comments whenever an article comes out online about plus-size fashion or models and I’m appalled by the ignorance I read. People equate bigger people with being unhealthy, but I would bet my career that if I took the plus-size board and the straight-size board of an agency and had them take physical exams, the straight-sized models would not be ‘healthier’ than the plus-sized models. To some women, being a size double-zero or zero is natural, but for those that starve or abuse drugs, it’s a battle to stay at a size that your body is rejecting.

“No one should have to starve themselves or overeat to be a model. There is an industry for models that do not fit the criteria—it’s called commercial modeling. I feel like the plus-size boards at modeling agencies have become a dumping ground for models who can no longer starve themselves and are at a size six and eight. They know very well [that these women] are not marketable to plus-size women.”

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  1. PLUS Model Magazine

    July 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

    PLUS Mag Updates When it Comes To Models, What Exactly Is “Plus-Size”?

  2. AmazeMagazine

    July 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

    PLUS Mag Updates: When it Comes To Models, What Exactly Is “Plus-Size”?

  3. Patricia Colli

    July 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    PLUS Mag Updates When it Comes To Models, What Exactly Is “Plus-Size”?

  4. venus

    July 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    This article has a pro and con to it to me.

    The pro is that I am glad someone is speakingout about these magzines trying to sell me clothes and showing model who are no where near plus size. The fasion world thinkgs that plus size is a size 8. I do give in to it. If you say you serves sizes 12-28 then you should have models that show that. If you don’t then I won’t spend my money there.

    Con: It is sad to read that even in the plus size world models cannot get work becasue they are two big. I am a size 22 and I find it sad that I do not see a model my body type so that I can see how to dres and what to wear. I can’t wear what a size 8 or 10, or 12, wheres. We are out there and we are readly to spend money, but said that the fashioin word and plus size world does not see this. It’s almost like they are saying, we will only go so far and then the rest is just not good enought. Shame , I hope things changes for the better. The world is becomeing more accetping of people different sexual preference, why not differnt sizes?

  5. michelle

    January 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

    get real 10-16 IS NOT plus sized, why dosent the fashion industry stop lying and treating the public like morons.. we are not stupid, start using real plus sized models

  6. Mary Anne

    January 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I am tired of seeing “plus size” labels on sizes 10 to 16. That is just plan foolish. There are millions of women that are size 18, 20, 22, etc. I see them in the midwest all the time. I am one of them.; Its nearly impossible to find clothing to wear. I see advertisements for “plus size” fashions, and it looks like its on a size 12 model…so I won’t even go to the store to try it on, let alone spend money there. I get very disheartened that companies selling so called large sizes, will not use real full sized women to advertise them. Show us larger ladies how beautiful and fashionable we CAN BE. Use size 20, 24 models! They do exist and they can look just as lovely and gorgeous as a size 4 does.

    To get me purchasing, why not start having someone who really looks “plus sized” modeling the clothing? Women’s magazines are also to blame….the editorial fashion feature never show anyone over a size 14. Ridiculous. I wear a 20…I am not proud of that…but until I can slim down…I have to buy my clothes somewhere….and I refuse to shop where false representations are done.

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