How are Plus-sized Models Viewed in Our Society?

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Our society is filled with opinionated people who think beauty is one size.  I disagree. I believe beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The plus-sized modeling industry has come so far, but in my opinion, plus-sized models are not viewed as beautiful as their straight model counterparts. It is 2018 and plus-sized models still do not receive the same respect as straight models.

Believe it or not, the way our society views beauty did not just occur over night. Beauty standards were set when modeling first became an industry. Straight models, ranging from sizes 0-2, were the first type of models. This size was considered beautiful and glorious, even though all women were not sizes 0-2. According to an article published in www.nytimes.com entitled, Why Does the Beauty Industry Ignore Curvy Models?, Dr. Erin Duffy, an Assistant Professor at Cornell University, stated, “idealized, aspirational women will usually look one way – patrician features, tall, typically white and thin.” The platform for plus-sized models has expanded, but it is not where it needs to be.

Plus-sized modeling did not become a topic of interest until 1998 when Katie Ford  created a line of clothing dedicated to plus-sized models. The name of this new line was named Ford + and it consisted of sizes 10-12. Around this time, a size 10-12 was considered plus-sized. Times have dramatically changed and the plus-sized modeling industry has expanded their sizing to 10-18.

In my opinion, I do not believe a size 10- 12 is a true plus-sized model. I say this because these sizes are not in the plus-sized section in clothing stores. Most clothing stores start their plus-sized clothing at a size 14. I shop in the plus-size section in clothing stores and I find it offensive when commercials and online campaigns showcase a size 12 model and calls her plus sized. This is offensive because it is much harder to find appealing clothing in stores versus someone who is a size 0-12. Not only is it harder for us plus-sized women to find clothing, but the quantity of clothing is usually lower than the clothing that are sizes 0-12. It is almost as if clothing companies do not believe there are curvier women who enjoy looking just as good as women who are smaller.

Something positive about the way plus-sized models are viewed is that they are seen to be confident. I guess society finds it amusing that a model who is not a size 2 can struct down the runway with cellulite and back rolls. I guess people think it is insane for larger models to embrace their bodies. In my opinion, I do not find it to be crazy, I think it empowers other women who are curvier, and I love it. An interesting fact about most plus-sized models is that they first started their careers as straight models. Many of them became unhappy with trying to match the “thin model” expectation and veered over into the plus-size modeling industry. According to an article on  www.businessinsider.com entitled, Inside the World of Plus-Size Modeling, a plus-sized model named Clarissa stated, “I entered a kind of happy place. I made peace with my body as a plus-sized woman and I am basking in it.” She admitted that she no longer stressed herself to fit into the modeling industries’ standard of beauty.

Personally, I would become stressed trying to stay a size 0 or 2. Some people’s bodies are not made to be small. For example, I come from a family that has wide hips, curves, and thick thighs. Genetically, I am not made to be a size 2 or 4. Many models find themselves becoming plus-sized models because they realize their bodies are not made to be a smaller size. There is nothing wrong with being a size 2 or 14, but health is the most important factor which I believe models are beginning to realize.

Overall, plus-sized models have been taken more seriously in recent years. Yes, they are more respected, but they are still not shown the same respect as straight models. In my opinion, the only way plus-sized models will continue to gain respect is with time.

Majesty Ferguson is a Sophomore Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Atlanta, Georgia. She will be a contributor to The Campus Chronicle for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

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