There’s a slow trickle of plus-size industry models complaining about the term, with one even going as far as calling it “derogatory.”
Robin Lawley, seen above, lays it all on the line,
She’s the size 12 model who has become a byword for feminine curves but Robyn Lawley says she’s sick of being classed as ‘plus size’.
In an interview with Clique magazine, the 24-year-old Australian spoke of her bemusement that despite being the owner of a toned, healthy body, the fashion industry persists in considering her – and others like her – larger than normal.
‘People think plus-size models don’t exercise – we do!’ she said. ‘But it’s about health, not forcing my body to be something it’s not meant to be.’
6ft 2″ Lawley, who has appeared in campaigns for Ralph Lauren and has numerous Vogue covers under her belt, admits she once tried to slim down to satisfy the demands of mainstream modelling, but added that even though she was starving herself, achieving size zero proved impossible.
‘Even at my lightest, I just couldn’t get there,’ she explains. ‘I genuinely really tried. I was counting calories, I was taking diet pills, I was dabbling in starvation.’
She adds: ‘I thought you had to be skinny to be beautiful. And I thought I would never be beautiful at this size.’
Since giving calorie-counting the boot, Lawley has shot to fame and has followed in the stiletto-clad footsteps of fellow high-profile plus-size models, Crystal Renn and Sophie Dahl – both of whom are as much admired for their curves as they are for their beauty.
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‘Fashion designers won’t go past a size two [UK size six], so there’s no size diversity – just none.
‘So there’s a whole no-man’s land of models who are in between the ‘straight size’ and the ‘plus-size’ and they are not working, yet they’ve got these amazing bodies that are completely in proportion.’
She also revealed that she would like to see the end of the term ‘plus-size’ altogether, arguing that as she isn’t a plus-size person, she shouldn’t be considered one.
‘I don’t think anyone should be called plus-size,’ she adds. ‘I think it’s derogatory to anyone – it’s a label.
‘I’m a model; I don’t think I need ‘plus-size’ in front of it.’ [source]
Candace Huffine chimes in,
“I get that that term is used to differentiate us as models, but we certainly don’t call the others ‘negative-sized!’ It’s just always been a term used to describe a larger woman, and I understand its existence, but I personally don’t use the term in my private life; I prefer curvy. As for which kind of model I am…both I guess; but really, who needs labels?” [source]
Whitney Thompson talks reality,
“My problem with the label ‘plus’ is that it’s not realistic.
The average American woman is a size 14, and ‘plus’ begins at size six.” [source]
and Marquita Pring highlights what I think the real problem is:
After eight years in the modeling industry, “plus-size” model Marquita Pring was recently dropped by her long-time agency, Ford Models, when they decided to close their plus-size division in order to focus solely on straight-size models (read: super tall and super thin). “All of a sudden [I] got this e-mail saying ‘You are no longer represented by Ford.’ Something about the new owner not being interested in the plus industry. It’s clearly not about money because we were the highest earning board [at Ford].”
Now Marquita is represented by IMG Models, one of the most powerful modeling agencies in the country, and is going on her first go-sees and castings for New York Fashion Week — something she was never encouraged to do at Ford. At IMG there is no distinction between straight-size and plus-size, which suits Marquita just fine. “I prefer ‘curvy’ honestly,” she says. “Plus-size feels outdated and no one thinks of it in a positive way. It’s always got this sort of stigma attached to it. I’d like to do away with that.”
Although Marquita has not yet booked any shows, she says the response from designers and casting agents has been overwhelmingly positive and she’s confident that good things are on the horizon. If not this season, then next. [source]
I think the problem with “plus-size” is the fact that it’s used as a way to separate, and combined with the way we equate “fat” with “unattractive,” it can be seen as a derogatory phrase.
That being said, I think Fluvia Lacerda’s words are pretty important, here, too:
“Skinny jeans, A-line dress etc., those are just words to describe something we all know what it is, but to describe it specifically. It gives the costumer a way of identifying what exactly is been sold or talked about.
“That’s how I feel about the whole ‘model’ or ‘plus-size model.’ Obviously, Prada won’t book me for a modeling job because it most likely won’t ever build a product to be sold for a woman my size, which is an 18. So, I work for a specific niche and I don’t get what’s wrong about that. I don’t get why people in the industry seem to be so offended about it or so desperate to be included in the just ‘model’ bag. Yes, I am a model. That’s how I pay my bills. But, I model clothes for women who have a hard time finding clothes in the average shop, and they usually go to the plus-size section or label. It’s simple; and to me, really no big deal. If you look at me obviously you will know I am plus-size. I don’t wear 10, 12, or 14. I wear 18, sometimes 20. So, that’s my body shape and the industry I work with, and the women who keep me employed are plus-size. I have zero problems with been called a plus-size model.”
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