View Full Version : What about...''plus-size modelling''?

13th June 2006, 21:02
<br>Let's consider a "what-if" scenario.

What if there had never been such a thing as plus-size modelling?

What if plus-size modelling were being invented right now--for the very first time?

What if modelling had hitherto been confined to underweight talent, and today, someone suddenly came up with the novel idea of creating a branch of modelling aimed at women who wear a dress size 14W and higher?

What would this new industry look like?

What sort of talent would it feature?

Well, for one thing, it would never occur to the creators of this new brand of "plus-size modelling" to select girls who stand six feet tall, have ropy-muscled gym physiques, and look like female basketball players.

What would be the point? The organizers of the new industry would realize that, as models, such individuals would be redundant, because their look is virtually identical to that of the straight-size models: tall and thin. Why have even <i>more</i> models who are tall and thin? Those already exist.

By contrast, the entire purpose of this new concept of "plus-size modelling" would be to represent those women whom fashion had never featured before--women who <i>look plus,</i> who are <i>visibly curvaceous,</i> and <i>genuinely full-figured.</I>

Those are precisely the qualities that the organizers of this novel branch of modelling would seek, when selecting girls for their new "plus-size" divisions. They would still apply the non-size-related requirements of straight-size modelling to potential full-figured talent, such as flawless skin, perfect teeth, youth, and a dynamic camera presence. But they would eschew those attributes of straight-size models that give them their androgynous look, such as excessive height, or thin limbs, or oval faces.

Rather, they would search for girls with essentially feminine attributes, such as full facial features, rounded limbs, and softly curvaceous physiques. And they would have no reason to select taller models over shorter ones. Girls measuring 5'4, or 5'5, or 5'6, would all be acceptable--even preferable--because their non-Amazonian heights would endow them with naturally curvy proportions.

And since the organizers of this new type of modelling would recognize that their future stars would constitute aspirational ideals for women sizes 14W and up, they would naturally select models size 14W and up as well. If, for the sake of sample production, they needed to establish an average modelling size in this new category, that average could be a 16, or an 18, or a 20--or beyond.

Of course, the girls who are supermodels today would still be supermodels in this new industry. If Barbara, or Christina, or Charlotte, or Kelsey entered an agent's office, they would be signed immediately. (How could they not?) But the industry would also feature equally gorgeous models in diverse sizes and heights. Only two characteristics would ultimately be required of the new "plus-size models": visibly full figures and facial features, and photogenic beauty.

That is what "plus-size modelling" would look like--if it were being created today. And perhaps our current plus-size modelling industry was conceived along those lines. But then, for some reason, something went wrong. Somewhere along the way, it ran off the rails. Instead of seeking the best representatives of a distinctly plus aesthetic, the industry started choosing models who resemble the straight-size girls as closely as possible--thereby alienating plus-size customers nationwide, and causing them years of frustration.

But it doesn't need to be this way. The plus-size fashion industry can take a step back, and reconfigure its casting policies on the basis of a truly plus ideal. It can embrace models who are above a size 14--or under 5'9---or both. After all, the majority of the full-figured shopping public falls within those parameters.

All that today's "voluptuous vixens" have ever wanted from the plus-size industry is the same thing that their underweight rivals have been given by straight-size industry, in countless magazines and advertisements:

Idealized versions of themselves.<p><center>* * *</center><p>Early last year, we discussed a similar topic in a post titled "<a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=87" target="_blank">A fashion magazine in living motion</a>." We described how the shopping malls of America are peopled by just as many potential plus-supermodels as populate the divisions of the world's full-figured modelling agencies.

Intriguingly, Torrid recently tested this theory by staging two "Model Search" events in suburban shopping malls--one in Arizona, the other in Pennsylvania. (An article about the former event appears <a href="http://www.statepress.com/issues/2006/06/06/news/696992" target="_blank">here</a>.)

We can't begin to guess what the results of these model searches will be. After all, just because North American malls are filled with lovely young full-figured women who possess a fashion sense equal to that of <i>Vogue</i>'s cover girls doesn't mean that these goddesses will turn out for a model search.

But if they did, Torrid's experiment could yield fascinating results. And it could even help bring the plus-size modelling industry closer to a genuinely size-positive ideal.

Bethany (Wilhelmina L.A., size 14), test image:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/bethany/test08.jpg"></center><p>- <a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/anna3.htm" target="_blank">NEW Anna Loukachenets gallery</a>