Fashion magazine editors are having a love affair with plus-size models. In the last several months, they’ve been featured in more magazines than it would be worth counting.
Some might say it’s a step in the right direction.
Others would tip the scale differently.
The plus-size model featured in the average high-end glossy is about a size six, a size most American women dream of. A size that, if the average American woman was, would feel stick thin; some might even say too thin. The fashion industry’s plus-size beauty standard is Heidi Klum plus one extra large pizza and a few beers.
But what if a magazine dared to feature women with actual curves? Someone who would be more relatable than Rebecca Romijn, Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss?
That is exactly what V Magazine is trying to do. The magazine’s size issue, which hits newsstands Thursday, Jan. 14, doesn’t just measure up to previous attempts to include plus-size models, but blows those attempts out of the water. It is bigger and more beautiful than the Beth Ditto cover of Love magazine from nearly one year ago.
The women, some wearing nothing but stilettos, are beautiful.
The photos are striking and not just because they’re masterfully done. (The photographs of V’s plus-size models are available for preview on models.com.) These women have curves and rolls and thighs and butts. They have breasts and calves and guts. What they don’t have, though, are dimples, uneven skin tones or any dermatological blemish to speak of. The amount of retouching on the images is disheartening and, in some ways, destroys the integrity of the shoot.
“It’s like they did so much [retouching] to make up for the fact they’re curvy,” said fourth-year journalism student Emily Lang. “Their faces, not their bodies are distracting, in a weird, unnerving way … They don’t even look real.”
But, the women are real. Favorable to all, they are not.
In an online forum, a reader wrote that they were disgusted by the images. Karl Lagerfeld previously said, “No one wants to see round women.” But in this issue he shot an editorial spread of Miss Dirty Martini, a voluptuous burlesque dancer for the size issue; it would appear he’s eating his words.
While I hardly doubt “no one wants to see a round woman” (the average American woman is a size 14, after all), some can’t shake the idea. When discussing the magazine’s campaign with a good friend, who has a few curves of her own, she said she’d rather see emaciated models who look like they have eating disorders instead of curvy, more healthy-looking women.
As a woman who has never been thin, as a woman with a great interest in fashion and the industry, I say it’s about damn time. Not only is the spread incredible, in time, this could dispel the common notion of what a plus-size model is. And, wait for it, if exercising patience is a skill of yours, you might see the term “plus-size” dissipate. Instead, maybe, they’ll just be models.
What a world that would be.
Thankfully, it would appear that I’m not the only one who welcomes the trend.
“Usually plus-size models are just thicker models, these women you can actually see their tummies and everything,” said Tifanei Moyer, a fourth-year communications and public relations student. “They look phenomenal.”
There are some separate modeling agencies for women who are considered to be
plus-size. One of those agencies is Ford+, which is headed by Gary Dakin. In an article by the Telegraph UK, Dakin had encouraging comments for what could come of the magazine’s feature.
“I am thrilled when I see these pictures,” Dakin said. ”Firstly, it shows that these girls can work with great photographers and amazing magazines like V and be taken more seriously for the work they do. For my girls, it means that the word ‘plus’ can hopefully go away soon, since they are now working in every major magazine in the world. It reinforces my belief that beauty comes in an assortment of sizes, shapes and colors.”
And now, what about diversifying the pool of plus-size models, to include women of all colors, ethnicities and backgrounds?
Or is that asking too much?