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Note To Target: A Pregnant Model Is Not A Plus Size Model

Target continues to misstep when it comes to their plus size customer. And we’re not feeling the love, Target.

Last April, it was reported that Target was using the color name “Manatee Grey” for a plus size dress but using “Dark Heather Grey” on the same dress in standard sizes. Since a manatee is a large, marine mammal that is also known as a sea cow, this color name did not sit well with some plus size customers. Yikes.

Target responded quickly to the color name difference and rectified that “mistake” immediately. All was well until now…

Jezebel, an online women’s news and culture magazine, reported yesterday that Target apparently has used a maternity model to market a plus size dress on their website. The model shown is not hiding her stomach at all. She is actually holding her belly. See for yourself below:

Target pregnant model 2014 main pic

In looking at other items in Target’s plus size clothing section, we noticed that they don’t even use models in many product images but in the ones that do feature a model, the models are much smaller and to some, may not even be considered a plus size model.

The major thing in marketing to the plus size woman is showing the clothing on a model because of all the different body types of plus size women. We want to see how that particular piece of clothing may look on us. When a retailer uses a smaller sized model, a maternity model or even no model at all, it comes off as if they’re saying they don’t feel passionately about marketing fashion to the plus size woman.

We, at PLUS Model Magazine, have been talking about since the beginning of 2014 with our new issue centering around the question ‘What is Plus Size?‘. And we have to ask again:  Where are the plus models? Why are smaller models being used to market to larger women? Where is the size diversity?

We are not saying smaller models should be overlooked or ignored. We believe all sizes should be represented. However, the size ranges have become a bit blurred within the industry and the term ‘plus size’ is not being adequately defined and represented.

A pregnant model is not the same as a plus size model. Let’s make that clear. And as Huffington Post wrote, and we wholeheartedly agree, there are so many wonderful plus models out there now… why cast a maternity model?

Another practice that retailers engage in is using the same product image for both standard sizes and plus sizes when an item is available in both markets. This is made possible by taking the image that shows the standard size model and stretching it out in width to make the model appear wider. We reported back in October how Party City was using this practice.

As Huffington Post stated in their article on the Target issue:

“For reasons we can’t explain, some mainstream retailers find it challenging to cast models for plus-size clothing, often resorting to models who are actually smaller than most plus-size women.”

We think if Target rethought their approach towards their plus size clothing customer and decided to choose plus models like Alex LaRosa (who we talked about in our Sound Off article), Allison McGevna, Ashley Graham or Anita Marshall, most of their customer base would be a happy one. The clothes will be more appealing and the plus size customer would feel more compelled to shop at Target.

Target should take a cue from retailers like SWAK Designs who hires larger models to be featured on their site. Sarah Sapora, Director of Creative and Social Marketing at SWAK Designs offers this advice to retailers on how they can better cater to the plus size customer:

“Most importantly, listen to them. Customers have a voice- it is our job to hear what they are saying and translate it into great business. Good business and good marketing in the plus fashion world is about helping the customer to connect to your brand in a sincere and real way. Model selection, while it may appear to be a surface-level decision, is hugely important. At SWAK Designs one of the things we hear ALL the time is customers saying how happy they are that we use genuine plus size models!”

Target, are you listening? We sure hope so.

To read our past articles on the topic of model sizing and the lack of plus models being used in the fashion industry, see the following links:

PLUS Model Magazine Sound Off: Is This Picture Too Curvy For Comfort?

Huffington Post Weighs In On The Plus Size Modeling Controversy Raised In The Latest Issue of PLUS Model Magazine

What Is Plus Size? PLUS Model Magazine’s January 2014 Issue Bridging The PLUS Divide

Plus Models Are Disappearing… PLUS Model Magazine Tackles the Controversial Subject of “What is Plus Size?” in the January Issue


  1. Alexandra Boos

    January 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I worked full time as a plus model for over 20 years and Target would book me almost weekly for their ads. I was a full size 16 and I was told that the president felt I represented a great size for a plus model, thus they were a clients for years. Target usually supports plus women by using a plus model. I know first hand from the inside track. Thus, I am very confused by this departure. I have no idea what the company is thinking. Target, we love you. What happened?

  2. Tyra

    January 7, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    This is very offensive… I am very frustrated with Target.

  3. Deb

    January 8, 2014 at 4:22 am

    When I first started wearing “plus’ about 20 years ago, the sizes started at 14W, In some lines, 16W. Now some lines start at 10W. WHAT? Size TEN is now plus?

    Srsly? NONE of my friends who wear a ten consider themselves to be plus, trust me!
    I can usually wear a 16m in a wrap or jersey dress/top. I get really frustrated at high end retailers/designers who carry from size 0-10, even sometimes stopping at 8. Talk about leaving out the vast majority of customers!

    Let’s start to get real, fashion industry, and market to the whole of womankind, okay? Misses realistically goes to a 20, at least. One of my BFF’s is a very tall, statuesque woman (6′) who wears a size 18. NO ONE outside of Vogue would in any way think of this woman as “heavy.’

    And why the heck do we have to call it “plus?” Let’s be honest, especially if they are going to start marketing to below size 14, and dub it curvy, or hourglass. Yes, particularly in fitted clothing, a W often fits better than an M on some figures, even though the measurements may be close. It’s the cut. Same with Junior to Misses.

  4. Kiera Edwards

    January 8, 2014 at 7:03 am

  5. michael fisher

    January 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm


  6. NanetteM

    January 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Not only does Target not market well on-line to plus size women – their displays in stores are pathetic. The women’s plus – size section of EVERY Target store I have been in has plus-size and maternity mixed, plus-size mixed with clearance racks or plus-size shoved in a back corner away from the mainstream shopper.


    January 14, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Target has definitely gone downhill in store. I can barely find anything to fit me, a size 4X/30-32, other than a basic sweater or top. Pants? Yeah, right. They have downsized their “plus’ section to just a few racks here and there. I’m fairly certain I have not been able to find anything in their intimates and underwear section for decades. It’s sad that shops not catered toward larger-sized women continue to fat shame us by not offering us enough quality affordable clothing, sticking clothes for “plus” women in the back, or not offering us anything at all, except on their website. :/

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  10. Pingback: Target Taps Barbie, Plus Models Precious Lee, Sabina Karlsson & Tara Lynn To Show Diversity in New Campaigns - PLUS Model Mag

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