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Faulting modern society: 'Plus-size' modelling

(Cover photo credit: © Karen Kasmauski / National Geographic Stock )

As a society we are in what I believe is best known as the the era of "opinion-shaming".

This is simply explained as a time where, due to our wholesome 'wokeness', we can collectively call out all those evil cruel people who fat-shame, slut-shame or share racist or cruel content.

Whilst calling them out for their actions we have the power to brand them with big scary words like 'bigot', 'homophobic', 'xenophobic', 'uncultured' etc and we're legends.

We're personally fighting hatred, one angry Facebook post at a time.

Except somewhere along the line we moved away from calling out genuinely dangerous, harmful or literal hate-speech and we started calling out anyone who had an opinion that deferred from the 'norm'.

Currently in Australia the average female dress size is a 14-16, which is a relatively large jump from the 2007 data which put us at a size 12 on average. This increase should therefore, in theory, reflect a change in the modelling industry.

Everything should move a size or two right? Skinny becomes an 8-10, anorexic should now be a 4-6 and 'plus-size' is stretched to an 18-22? That would make sense right, modelling has to move with the times, just like humour and what is and isn't 'offensive'.

In theory this makes sense. Logically however this a dangerous trend.

What is considered 'healthy' doesn't change as our society get's gradually fatter, that scientific method of defining healthy isn't alterable. It's there for a reason.

And yet, in our wondrous, progressive modern society we like to alter everything to fit the norm.

So we shamelessly parade overweight, unhealthy models around Instagram and we brand anyone who questions their position a 'fat-shamer'.

Now, this isn't a dig at the entire 'plus-size' modelling industry, there are numerous ad campaigns and models out there that perfectly fit the 'plus-size' definition. Those that demonstrate and artfully present the larger members of our society, those that are healthy and beautiful.

This includes Target's 2016 Valentines #YayEveryDay campaign:

And famous models such as Iskra Lawrence, Ashley Graham and Robyn Lawley:

These are all great examples of healthy, beautiful woman who are normalising sizes beyond that of the usual thin models you see gracing the runway.

The problem is we have moved beyond the claim of 'body-positivism' and are en route to a spiralling tunnel that leads to the promotion of obesity.

This a problem that begins with those who endorse it, us.

For example some of those who vehemently stand by the claim that calling some plus-size models out for being unhealthy is fat-shaming, are also the ones attacking the women above when they lose a kilo or two.

Recently Ashley Graham was the victim of a tirade from online-trolls who called her out for losing weight. That's right, she was publicly shamed for sporting a thinner figure, as she no longer represented the people who support her.

Some of the comments included:

"Too skinny. Don't represent me anymore."

"You look stunning but I'm afraid that being plus sized is never going to be socially accepted when the woman who practically founded it in the first place continues to lose weight".

and "You don't look like a curvy model anymore." (Zoellner, October 2018)

All for posting this photo:

This, sadly, isn't the first time a model has been attacked for not being large enough. It's becoming a growing trend, especially with the accessibility the internet gives every person.

The issue stems from limiting a person's ability to speak out.

While models like Ashley Graham are being shamed for embracing their changing bodies models such as Tess Holiday are being praised for the promotion of 'positivity' surrounding their size, cause you know 'fuck the haterz'.

Tess Holiday is a size 24, a size 24 looks like this:

At 130kg maintaining her weight takes approximately 2800 calories a day, assuming she completes light exercise everyday. (Calorie Calculator, 2018)

The average woman requires only 2000 calories to maintain their weight.

Based on the absolute basic data Tess Holiday has to be consuming more than the recommended calorie intake. This also means should she start eating in a calorie deficit, excluding any serious health problems, she would lose weight.

It's not about confidence, or embracing you the way you are, its about image and promotion of an unhealthy lifestyle. Being overweight is not cute, its not inspiring, its dangerous.

Just as society condemns very thin woman for the promotion of unhealthiness society should also condemn models who promote being very large.

If we are not careful this will become the norm, it will normalise obesity and raise the average size even higher. How far are we willing to stretch to claim 'body-positivity'?

At what point does it become OK to say no?

Unfortunately our society is so hell-bent on being accepting of all people that we're afraid to offend someone by telling them the truth. It's perfectly fine to embrace your body and be proud of who you are, but accept that you are also unhealthy and that others should NOT be aspiring to have a body like yours.

A personality, sure, inspire away, but do not promote your unhealthiness.

But all this promotion doesn't just stop with us, its weaved into the very framework of the modelling industry.

In the plus-size industry if you lose weight, you lose work.

The same goes for the catwalk industry ie if you gain weight, you lose work.

Naturally, this leads to a body and weight obsession. A trend that's been around since the beginning of modelling.

If you need to alter your body to an extreme one way or the other you are no longer promoting acceptance or self-love, because you are changing yourself to fit a mould that isn't naturally you.

In the documentary 'Curvy Girls Stripped Bare' it outlines the pure demand present at the moment for larger girls. In order to help girls fit into this larger mould the models are often required to wear padding to enlarge some of their features.

A size 12 is no longer good enough, you have to be a 16 or more to land the roles.

So how did plus-size model Sonny Turner bulk up?


Show me the healthy message that sends to young girls hoping to make it big in the modelling industry. There is absolutely no positives to informing young girls that bigger is better.

Don't stress it if you can't make it in the modelling industry... Get fat! Oodles of opportunities there!

Again, this isn't a dig at all plus-size models, this is a dig at a corrupt system. I don't blame Tess Holiday for remaining overweight, she's making big money off it and she gets to eat whatever she wants. I blame society for allowing her the choice to stay overweight.

Because it is a choice.

Society just needs to choose bloody wiser.

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