Without a doubt, one of the most perplexing questions in the magazine industry today is why The Netherlands, with a population of just over 16 million, can support not just one, but two
professional-quality, independent magazines devoted to plus-size fashion, while North America has difficulty maintaining even one.
At this forum, we recently reviewed
one of those Dutch publications, titled Vol
magazine, and now we will discuss the second, which is descriptively but unimaginatively titled, Big Is Beautiful
The quality of the photography in Big is Beautiful is roughly equivalent to that of Vol, or perhaps just a step beneath--i.e., equal to that of most North American "lifestyle" publications. The paper stock is premium matte, which is the same paper that is used in Real Simple magazine (whereas Vol's is premium glossy, like Vogue or Elle). In every way, then, Big Is Beautiful looks and feels "legitimate." Its dimensions, however, are considerably larger than those of Vol, or even of Figure--at nearly 10"x14", it is approximately the size of W magazine.
Big Is Beautiful also suffers from precisely the same shortcomings that plague Vol: the general dowdiness of plus-size fashion in Europe, and most significantly, a glaring inconsistency in the aesthetic quality of its full-figured models.
However, this issue does feature notable appearances by each of the three Dutch plus-size models who exhibit world-class aesthetic credentials. The magazine's current cover model, reclining sensually in the best Victoria's Secret manner, is Linda Runk, who also appears inside the issue in a lingerie editorial. Linda is the Dutch equivalent of so many U.S. faux-plus models with attractive facial features, who would be extraordinary talents, if only they were fuller-figured. You can see more of Linda's lingerie layout in her online portfolio, but to view the complete spread, you will have to obtain the magazine for yourselves.
The issue also includes a lovely cosmetics editorial featuring Laetitia, who made such a splash in a lingerie layout of her own, in the issue of Vol that we reviewed for this forum. Thus far, Laetitia has won more praise for her figure than for her facial features, but this editorial could change all that.
She makes a remarkable showing here, no matter what one may think of the makeup itself, and one can discern a certain softness in her features that is most becoming.
And Linda Caffa, Holland's "other" Linda, also appears in fine form in a conservative but nevertheless attractive ad for Exelle.nl. Linda is a size 16 by the American measure, and she exhibits the distinctive beauty that is unique to models with genuinely opulent proportions:
(You may click on the above image to view it at a larger size.)
We would be remiss not to compliment the following ad as well, for Almia.net, which catches the eye because of its fascinating outdoor setting, showing a model relaxing beneath a canopy of blossoms, on a rustic-looking couch:
Like the articles in Vol, the content of Big Is Beautiful is entirely in Dutch. But in most plus-size magazines, the articles are never nearly as important or compelling as the images (Mode, with its size-positive philosophy, was the lone exception), so the language barrier may be moot. Anyone in North America who is interested in subscribing to Big Is Beautiful can do so via TypicalDutchStuff.com, which is the same online resource that offers overseas subscriptions to Vol.
Big Is Beautiful has not yet produced anything as brilliantly subversive as Vol's "Chocolate Issue," so we rank it second among the two Dutch publications in this genre, but we applaud its efforts nevertheless, and wish it every success. Quite simply, the world needs as many plus-size magazines as possible.
It would be nice, however, if more of them were published on this side of the Atlantic . . .
- Click here to visit the magazine's official site