With the promotion of plus-size models, mannequins, and clothing on the rise, it would appear that the fashion industry is moving away from its praise of thinness and under-eating and towards body acceptance.
However, these plus-size models would disagree.
The New York Post interviewed several models from various industries, and all report similar struggles. Khrystyana Kazakova, a third-place plus-size contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2018, was told she was not “big enough” for the company that recruited her.
But, when the 34-year-old proceeded to gain more weight via weight lifting and diet changes, the agency fired her for not gaining weight in the “right” places. Apparently they had a specific kind of “plus-size” in mind. “They want you to have an hourglass shape,” she told the Post.
22-year-old model Allison Owens paints a picture of what they’re looking for: “They want you to have small arms, a beautiful jawline, a slim waist,” but one can be as large as desirable in the chest, rear, and thigh areas. Think Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Lopez.
Former model and Bella management owner Chelsea Bonner highlights how the biggest struggle is for those in between two sizes, forced to either put on extra weight or “starve themselves down to fit into a sample.”
Brands such as Mara Hoffman or even Target and Kohls may appear to be more inclusive to the observer, but one of their models, Madeleine Ours, reveals what happens behind the scenes.
“There’s times where I’m like, ‘Should I lose or gain weight?’” she wonders, “I don’t know what’s going to be the trendiest size.” She is frustrated with all of the dieting and high-intensity exercise she feels she has to do to keep her weight below where it naturally stands.
Molly Tellekson, an athletic vegan, falls into one of the “in-between” sizes, and has had to resort to the use of padding to appear curvier. She is unhappy with the unrealistic body standards her pictures portray, worried about shoppers who may compare themselves with her un-padded neck and collarbone.
Either way, Ours, Kazakova, and Tellekson feel like they can’t stay true to their natural bodies and must either gain, starve, or use unrealistic methods to fit the industry’s specific body standards.
And of course these agencies have an upper limit. For those who fall outside of the “desirable” range, they have to resort to endless self-promotion on social media. Model Alexus Rackley has had to work hard to gather over 53,000 Instagram followers for companies such as Nordstrom and Amazon to accept her size.
But it isn’t all hopeless. Brands such as Universal Standard, Chromat, and Girlfriend Collective don’t discriminate against any body type, using a truly diverse range of models throughout their collections. They also don’t retouch their photos and some supply clothing up to size 40.
Whether due to one’s medical, mental, socioeconomic, and/or genetic situation, bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Having clothing brands that promote the acceptance of all body sizes can hopefully reduce the need people feel to manipulate their bodies from their natural weight in order to feel more acceptable.
Have you ever felt affected by the fashion industry’s unrealistic beauty standards? Share your experiences in the comments below!