(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, July 25, 2004, in response to a viewer's praise of Hollie Lawing--a finalist in the 2004 Lane Bryant model search.)
The model with the long hair [Hollie Lawing] does appear to be truly gorgeous--at least in this photograph--and is understandably an early favourite. And kudos to the stylist for giving her a chance to show off her beautiful arms. It would be nice to see her win the grand prize, especially since her look is very different from that of the other Ford girls, and her presence would give that board some variety. More often than not, however, Ford opts for girls with harsher facial features, so she may be passed over. And that would be a shame, because if her other images are equally prepossessing, she would do very well as a candidate on our own survey page.
At any rate, let's hope that some agency signs her, even if Ford does not. For now, we will simply have to wait for Lane Bryant to update its site to see more images of the finalists. In the meantime, LaneBryant.com is worth a visit to see several new images of Crystal Renn--particularly this lovely fall cover:
The maple leaves are a nice touch, and Crystal's expression is gentle and wistful.
Further to the topic of model searches, we still find it regrettable that these contests give so many women the false hope of achieving careers as plus-size models. But one can also look at these competitions in a more positive way, for they undoubtedly do help many full-figured women appraise themselves more favourably.
The very idea of a "plus-size model search" helps women realize that beauty and thinness are not synonymous, because while models are generally acknowledged to be beautiful, plus-size models are not required to be thin. Ergo, whether they win or not, contestants still come away with the understanding that it is possible to be full-figured and beautiful.
And that is the first step towards size celebration.
Model searches are also beneficial from a purely strategic point of view (i.e., strategic in the sense of, "devising strategies to make the media more size-positive"). One of the excuses that advertisers offer to justify their use of underweight models is that their market research tells them that thin women spend more on cosmetics and clothing than do their full-figured peers. But if more plus-size women took an interest in the tools of the model's trade (cosmetics, hairstyling, fashion, etc.)--and therefore, became a more attractive market--then advertisers would seek to woo this market by producing aspirational imagery precisely with curvaceous customers in mind.
Once advertisers realize that size-16 "wannabe models" are just as viable a market as size-2 "wannabe models," they will begin courting this market with curve-friendly images--and will end up advancing the cause of size celebration, despite themselves.