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PLUS Model Magazine Survey Results:  We Asked, YOU Answered… What Is ‘Plus Size’?

Smaller sized models image

From left to right: Robyn Lawley, Tara Lynn (in Elle Spain), Myla Dalbesio (for H&M Plus)

When you look at the three models in the above image, do you think they’re plus size? Many of you would probably say “No” immediately. Yet the above three models are all considered plus size models in the fashion industry. In fact, they are some of the most well-known models out there, all of them having modeled or are currently modeling in campaigns for plus size retailers that are selling to US, the consumer.

Australian plus model Robyn Lawley has graced the pages of various high fashion magazines and was the first plus model to work for Ralph Lauren as well as being featured recently in a beauty campaign from Barney’s. French plus model Tara Lynn has been featured in Elle Magazine Spain, Vanity Fair Italy and in campaigns for plus retailers such as Torrid, Evans and H&M. Myla Dalbesio is best known for her work for H&M (plus) and has been in Vogue Italia.

Robyn is a size 12, Tara is a size 14 and Myla is a size 10. Yes, you read right, a size 10.

As we previously reported, H&M uses smaller models in their plus size campaigns, which have included Tara Lynn and Myla Dalbesio. Myla was a guest panelist on Huff Post Live earlier this month during a segment talking to the topic of ‘What is truly plus size?’ and she stated that she is a size 10. She went on to say that she knew that she was modeling clothes that weren’t available in her size. H&M’s plus size line starts at a size 14 and runs to a size 24. And they are not the only retailer who uses smaller sized models for their plus size campaigns.

Many consumers are noticing this practice and are not happy about it. Many plus size women are frustrated at seeing a smaller sized model being used to market plus size clothing. This month, we have been talking about this important topic of the lack of size diversity shown in the industry and the lack of use of larger sized models in plus size fashion campaigns and advertisements.

Our January 2014 issue is dedicated to this topic in an effort to spark conversations and give plus size women the opportunity for their voices to be heard. Our Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones stated in her Editor’s letter this month that many retailers use the following reasoning when defending their decision to use smaller sized models:

  1. Bigger models do not inspire plus size women to shop/buy.
  2. Plus size women will not invest in their wardrobe because they always think they will be losing weight and it’s not worth it to spend money on quality right now.

Are retailers right? Is that really what plus size women think and feel about shopping and when they see bigger models? To get the answers to those important questions, we conducted a survey and asked plus size women what they think. Survey results showed us how wrong plus size retailers are in this way of thinking.

Basically, results show that plus size women want to see larger sized models in campaigns, advertisements and magazines.

1,724 women took the survey, with the top age range beginning women in the 30 – 40 yr-old age range (31.2%).

  • 20.2% of the women were in the 40-50 yr-old age range
  • 19.7% were women in the 25-30 yr-old age range
  • 17.1% in the 20-25 yr-old age range

38.1% of those women wear a size 16-18 and 35.5% wear a size 20-24. The lowest percentage were women who wear size 10 and below.

Here’s some important results overall:

  • 92.9% of women said they noticed the size of the model in advertisements and campaign pictures.
  • 91.4% of women said they would prefer to see plus size models, larger than a size 12, in campaigns, advertisements and magazines.
  • 94,8% of women said that a size 6, 8 or 10 model should be NOT considered a “plus size model”.
  • 95.8% said they would like to see plus size companies use models who are more representative of their customers.

Some of the comments from survey takers were:

“Using models the typical size to fit the targeted market is helpful because it gives me an idea as to how the clothes will look on my curvy body, Everything looks good on someone who is small but to see the image of a plus size model gives me an idea of how it will actually look on me.”

“I want to see how clothes might look on me. Not my size 2 neighbor. ME.”

“I want to see what the clothes will look like on someone my size or body type. It would really encourage me to shop a certain brand. A size 12 model looks very different from a size 18.”

“I don’t want to know what clothes will look like on skinny women. I want to know what they will look like on me. I am a plus sized woman and proud of it. I want to have sexy clothes that show off my curves, not hide them. I want to see models who are beautiful and actually plus size. Anything under a 16 is not what big women consider “one of us”. Clothes lay differently on bigger women. The 1950’s notiion that fat people don’t want to see clothes on fat people is ridiculous. I’m not in denial. I wear a size 22. Give me models who are in the X sizes. Not some size 10 or 12.”

Plus size retailers, are you listening? Your customer is speaking and the old way of thinking is no longer a valid reason to continue to avoid using larger sized models. They are plenty of beautiful plus models above a size 16 out there (as seen below) that we would love to see in your campaigns and advertisements.

Larger sized models image

From left to right: Rosie Mercado, Alex LaRosa, Samantha Lebbie (for Ashley Stewart)

Plus size women: Let’s support those retailers that do use larger sized models like Ashley Stewart and Sealed With A Kiss Designs. We are the ones spending our dollars so we have power as consumers and can choose where we spend our money. We also have the power to speak up. As our Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones stated in her Editor’s letter:

“Do not be afraid to voice your opinion directly to the brands on their social media channels. Brands are watching carefully; if enough of us are heard, they will listen.”

To see the complete survey results, click here. A special “Thank You” to those who took the survey and let their voices be heard.

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