lthough plus-size models are now officially part of the whole fashion game, their lives are still filled with working challenges they don’t normally discuss. We all know that the beauty standards of the fashion world are changing as we speak, becoming more and more realistic, still, it’s a challenging environment for normal-sized and bigger women. Here are a few tough truths no one told you about being a plus-size model in the biz.
Plus-size models are invited to various commercial photo-shoots all the time but rarely do they get a chance to walk the runway. Most of the fashion brands are still not ready to include them in their shows. Most of the time they get invited to do swimsuit or lingerie photoshoots to reveal their curves. Designers rarely want to dress them up in beautiful clothes to showcase their figures.
Let’s talk about hypocrisy
If they do get invited to advertise some clothes, usually those looks would hide their curvaceous figures instead of emphasizing the beauty of being a plus-sized woman. It is especially disappointing for these models as they’ve learned to accept and love their bodies and want to be treated just like all other models.
There are hundreds of stereotypes plus-size models face every day. Some people even believe these women get paid to gain extra weight! But if you look at the social media of plus-size models you’ll see that most of them promote self-love, healthy lifestyle, and hit the gym on a regular basis!
Living up to the societal beauty standards
Most people have no idea that there are strict beauty standards in the biz concerning the bodies of plus-size models. Extra weight can’t be just anywhere, there are specific spots where extra weight is allowed. Their whole figure should remind an hourglass, and it doesn’t matter what their initial body shape was!
Coming to terms with the harsh and ugly reality
Many women complain that even the term itself ‘plus-size model’ is restraining and sets them apart from all other models. Sizes and numbers shouldn’t be the first thing people think of when they see a normal-sized or a plus-sized model – they are just professional models and that’s what matters the most.
The not so constructive criticism
Plus-size models fight for the right of being themselves and looking the way they feel comfortable every day. While many people have learned to accept them for who they are and appreciate their beauty, there is still a lot of criticism going on, especially in social media. Models admit that they get most hate from other women. They are the ones who leave the most offensive comments!
No matter how successful a plus-size model is, she will still be pointed at her extra weight and advised to shed some pounds. It is very hard to stay confident and believe in yourself when you’re facing stereotypes like this all the time, yet plus-size models have learned to not let other people affect their happiness and self-esteem. Luckily they have the support of thousands of fans!
SOME IMPORTANT FAQS
1. These models are not “fat”. Why are they considered plus-size?
The expression “plus-size” is often misunderstood or unknown (and usually equated with fatness). As many could surmise from a single glance at magazine photos of plus-size models, the basic definition of “plus-size” in modeling does not match the cultural image of a “fat” woman. Most casual observers of plus-size models would probably not even perceive them as “plus-size.” Indeed, many of these models are of “average” size and weight, typically wearing women’s sizes ten to eighteen; retail industry experts estimate that the average American woman weighs approximately one hundred sixty pounds and wears a size fourteen. Typically, the industry considers anything over a woman’s size eight as “plus-size.”
2. So, can anyone be a plus-size model?
While a plus-size model is, arguably, close in size to the average woman, her body is still atypical in terms of height, symmetrical facial features, and proportional frame. She possesses a “look” or “it-factor” that captures the attention of others. A model also maintains a high degree of body awareness. This is used to effectively pose and saunter down a runway. For those who work as fit models (i.e., a model hired by a designer or clothing manufacturer to try on garments at various stages of production to determine the fit and appearance of the pieces on a live person), knowledge of garment design is essential, too.
3. Since they don’t have to watch their weight, modeling must be easier for plus-size models, right?
No. There is an assumption that these women have undisciplined bodies or don’t diet and exercise. When, in fact, these women work hard for their bodies. Plus-size models engage in, at times, severe bodily management practices, such as strict calorie restriction to drop a size and even binge eating to gain a size, as well as more routine bodily manipulations, such as applying make-up and hair products, wearing shapewear, and adding body padding to make the body frame more proportional.
4. Do these women have super-sized self-esteem to work as plus-size models?
I found that many of these women had grown up struggling with their bodies. Many of them had spent years in shame, trying to cover up their self-perceived flaws; yet, when they discovered plus-size modeling, the way they saw themselves transformed. They realized that the body that they had hated for so many years could actually give them work opportunities. By working as models, they started to appreciate their bodies. Many of them developed more positive self-images through modeling and embraced the mantle of the spokesmodel for size acceptance. This did not mean that these women have perfect body images.
5. Isn’t it great to see different kinds of bodies represented in fashion?
Absolutely, we must applaud the use of a variety of looks and bodies in fashion. Plus-size models, in particular, should be acknowledged for their courage to withstand body stigmas and bare their flesh for all to see. Plus-size models fight to get out from the margins and into the mainstream fashion market. Their challenge, however, is to maintain their authentic voice amidst a stream of voiceless bodies that flow in and out of fashion’s ranks.
Unfortunately, models, no matter their size, are simply treated as bodies. Fashion still judges them on the basis of their looks. Modeling reduces them to curves and numbers on a tape measure. They are not always perceived as women but breasts, bums, and hips. After all the work they do, plus-size models are still objectified and sexualized bodies.