The Plus Size Controversy

Fashion week Fall 2011 ‘Plus size’ is a term most women do not want to be associated with. Plus size in the fashion industry starts from size 10 (US size 6) and upwards. The term ‘plus size’ has been used by media and the fashion industry to tell women who fall within this dress sizes they are not the ideal size.

Tess Holiday (
Tess Holiday (

Runway models formerly called living mannequins in the 19th century are used as industry standard to portray the ideal woman. Ironic isn’t it? To use the anorexic looking model as a standard for all other healthy looking women. Children grow up with this mindset of ‘the ideal’ body size. The youngest eating disorder recorded in children was as early as age 5. Truth be told, I see no reason why stick figure looking runway models should be used to set a standard of what women should look like because when I see them, the first thing that comes to my mind is ‘hunger!’. Former Vogue Australia editor kirstie Clements in her book ‘The Vogue Factor’ revealed the lengths models go to in order to maintain their bony structure. One of such ways is by eating tissue paper to make them feel stuffed. Yes! Tissue paper I said. Imagine having to starve oneself and not be able to eat like a normal person just to maintain a dress size 4. Some of them even go to the length of taking IV fluids at the hospital on regular bases to keep their system running. Designers use these models like piece of meat, not like human beings with emotions. They set the standard for being a model so high without thinking of the consequences on these models and the image they create for the regular women.

Isabelle Caro
Isabelle Caro

One classical case of a model who suffered from anorexia is Isabelle Caro. Before her death in 2010, Isabelle was the face of the movement against anorexia. She had photoshoots, campaigns, documentaries and was invited to TV shows giving account of her battle against anorexia, offering advise to people living with anorexia. In sharp contrast to being a female model in the fashion industry, male models on the other hand are not put through this rigorous process. Male models in the fashion industry are regular looking men with healthy diets and regular workout routine.

Ashley Graham (
Ashley Graham (

As of April 2015, France passed a bill to ban excessively thin fashion models, modeling agents and fashion houses that hire skinny looking models and individuals or organizations who erred in this are likely to face fines or jail term. In addition to this, models would have to show a medical certificate showing their BMI (Body Mass Index) before being hired for a job and for a few weeks afterwords and all this is part of a campaign against anorexia by President Francois Hollande of France. Other countries that have also taken actions towards the fight against anorexia are Spain, India and Italy.

Robyn Lawley  (
Robyn Lawley (

In recent times, designers have introduced normal figured women to model new designs for their fashion labels; sizes 8 and 10 which they term ‘Plus Size’. I mean, what is plus sized about being a size 8 or a 10. As a result of this, fuller size looking women like Ashley Graham, Robin Lawley, Myla Dalbesio and Tess Holiday, have been able to break into the stiff neck modeling industry. Though there was an uproar when Clavin Klein revealed the face of it’s plus size collection Myla Dalbesio because she looks nothing like a plus size.

Maya Dalbesio
Myla Dalbesio

Most men in the real world appreciate women with fuller looking body which is expected because the less stick looking you are the more female looking you become. The fashion industry for over a century now have succeeded in painting an illusion of what an ideal woman should be and that is why there have been movements to correct this misconception created by the fashion industry like ‘#Effyourbeautystandards’ by plus size model Tess Holiday, ‘The Curvy Girl Revolution’, musician Meghan Trainor also release hit track ‘All About That Bass’ in 2014 that hit number one on the UK Top 40 Chart. The song simply promotes the full bodied figure woman. In addition to this, we in the fashion community need to strike a balance on what size is okay for modeling. We need more full figured fashion shows, movies, TV shows and ad campaigns addressing this issue on a much wider spectrum for a much healthier fashion industry.


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