‘Model’ citizens: plus size isn’t what it seems

Katie-Beth Jackson

No one wants to be perceived as ugly.

Physical appearance will never relinquish its tight hold on social value, determining first impressions and typically being used as an outlet for expression of personality.

But when women feel their physical appearance must meet society’s unrealistic standards, it becomes a problem.

The modeling industry has permeated these standards over the years, one of the most popular events being the Victoria Secret fashion show.

According to Fashion Magazine, over 89 percent of women do not feel represented by the show and models.

Then through the darkness of the modeling industry, at last, comes the knight in shining armor, plus size modeling.

However, before getting whisked away happily into the sunset, the reality is that the plus-size sector of the modeling industry is not as different from the straight size sector, also known simply as typical modeling, as one might hope.

Katie Halchishick, the owner of Natural Models, reveals that plus size bodies are not representative of the average woman.

She says a model will go to casting calls and be asked to change her body, or “gain at least 30 to 40 pounds if she wanted to get more bookings with them.”

Models within the average female range do not possess the curves that plus-size models do.

The average cup size for plus size models is a C or above, excluding women who were not naturally endowed.

Model Alex Ferguson sums it up best when she says, “as a normal size healthy model I do not get very much work”.

The similar practices of body altering in straight size modeling continue from there, from the use of photoshop to meet a height requirement.

While the average height of women is 5’ 3.7”, the average size of plus-size models is still within the 5’9” to 6’0” range.

On top of all of that, photoshop is typically used to perfect skin.

But when photoshopping models and creating height and cup requirements, the plus size industry is not allowing for the natural, or average women to exist.

The features sought out by the industry are very specific and unattainable by many women.

There is a dissonance between what the industry says is representative and what the public says.

None of this is as apparent as the issue of not including the middle sizes.

If the plus size industry is supposed to be a better representation of women then why are the middle sizes being cut out?

Katie Halchishick speaks to this problem as well saying, “The two industries are promoting opposite extremes. It is size zero on one side, or size 14 and above on the other! They do not acknowledge anything in the middle”.

A true representation of women would be having models of all sizes, not just two polar extremes.

What does this mean for the perception of plus size modeling?

It means that the modeling industry should be viewed for what it is, an industry.

Just because people desire changes in business practices does not mean that the company has to oblige them.

Private businesses do not have to conform to what the public wants unless they violate ethical laws.

Plus-size modeling is just another mechanism for agencies to make money off of impressionable girls and the models do not represent the average woman, which can be just as dangerous as straight size modeling health-wise.

The entertainment industry profits directly off of the attention consumers give it.

These models don’t deserve the amount of attention they receive and they will continue making money as long as people continue to be fed misinformation about the modeling industry.

The next time Instagram promotes a model with a body positive caption, she is making money off of other people’s insecurities and sympathy.

She is running a business.