Plus-sized modeling became mainstream in the mid to late 1990s with models such as Emme Aronson and Mia Tyler. To his day, Emme is largely recognized as the leading model in the profession, as well as its highest earner. Natalie Laughlin, Jordan Tesfay, Mia Amber Davis and several other woman have broken the barrier of size acceptance in the fashion world and have made a name for the ladies who love fashion and wear size 12+.
There has always been a desire for full-figured women to be appropriately represented in the fashion industry and it hasn’t become prevalent until the last decade. Though full-figured women are now better represented, their is still a frustration among the plus-sized community: these women look nothing like us! Most women are surprised to see models that are considered to be plus-sized, as they are considerably smaller than what plus-sized is considered in the full-figured community.
Full-figured models are held to essentially the same criteria and smaller sized models: good skin, teeth and hair, proportionate measurements, and at least 5’10. A plus-sized model in the professional fashion industry is a size 8 and higher (usually the highest is size 12). The average plus-sized woman wears a size 16 and therefore, more likely than not, when a woman sees a plus-sized model whether on the runway or in a magazine, her size will be smaller. This has quickly become a frustration to several plus-sized woman, not being able to relate to those who are supposed to represent their size. I have felt this frustration as well…feeling like the model that is supposed to represent my plus-size frame actually looks nothing like my size. I feel like if the industry wanted to venture out and include plus-sized women, it should be accurately portrayed but instead I feel that they toed the line of fashion just enough to be able to include their clothing as plus-sized fashions.
Though there is a frustration, I think we need to realize that it is very doubtful that we will ever see a size 18+ model rocking the runway on a daily basis. Sure, we have a few now, but the chance that it will become mainstream is highly unlikely. Fashion sticks to the thinner size. Even smaller sized models are considerably thinner than average sized women, suffering from poor eating habits, constant smoking and the obsession over body appearance. Sadly, it has been accepted and offers little compromise for the “average woman”.
For those divas that still have the frustration when viewing so called plus-sized fashions on not so plus-sized women, keep in mind that the change you desire starts with you. You can be the real plus-sized woman that you wish represented the full-figured community. The street is your catwalk, work it baby!