A visitor to this site provided an interesting response to our recent "What about . . . plus-size modelling?"
post (in which we speculated about the kinds of models that full-figure fashion industry would be employing today, if plus-size modelling had never existed, and were currently being invented). She informed us that at least one fashion glossy does
occasionally feature plus-size models who possess the qualities that we described: youthful, attractive, genuinely full-figured, standing at a normal height, and exhibiting soft, rounded features.
And that magazine, our young reader informed us, is Seventeen.
has only attracted the notice of plus-size model aficionados due to the fact that it occasionally runs Torrid print ads. But the aforementioned response prompted us to take a second look at the magazine's editorial pages.
Predictably, much of Seventeen
's content still consists of wall-to-wall waifs. However, in one or two pages per issue, the magazine--astonishingly--does
feature models who embody the timeless ideal. Its plus-size models are visibly curvaceous, highly photogenic, professionally styled, and are even allowed to display the confident attitude that one usually associates with their underweight rivals.
The March 2006 issue featured the following image of a plus-size model named "Elle." With her soft, fair features, and opulent figure, she embodies the feminine ideal celebrated in each of poems that we examined in our "Medieval Beauty" series. Seventeen
commendably gave Elle a romantic hairstyle, stylish accessories, and allowed her to look genuinely pleased with her own appearance. Best of all, it made no attempt to distort or minimize her natural, curvy shape.
The July 2006 issue featured a plus-size model named Katherine (below), whose Classical figure is reminiscent of Barbara Brickner's. Like Elle, Katherine exhibits rounded facial features and full, shapely arms--all hallmarks of true beauty. And Seventeen dressed her in an attractive, figure-embracing dress that unreservedly celebrates her curvaceous shape.
In selecting these models, the Seventeen editors wisely dispensed with the thinness-oriented "rules" of straight-size modelling, and instead welcomed the characteristics of soft fullness that epitomized feminine beauty in every century prior to the twentieth. Seventeen's models embody the aesthetic ideal that all plus-size fashion retailers should pursue, when choosing representative talent.
Seventeen's July issue also featured a return appearance by the understandably popular Elle. Again, the magazine bedecked her in lovely accessories, and made no attempt to diminish her curvaceous appearance. And although the dress in this particular image is less than ideal (because of its material, not its cut--denim being too stiff a fabric to effectively adorn plus-size beauty), Seventeen more than made up for this by allowing Elle to exhibit the kind of poised, supremely confident demeanour that is usually reserved for straight-size models. Elle's expression appears to say, "I know I outshine every other model in this magazine." And she surely does.
This particular editorial also identified Elle's height and dress size--a size 14 at 5'3. Thus, Seventeen wisely eschewed yet another gauntness-oriented "rule" of straight-size modelling when selecting its plus-size talent--i.e., the anti-plus emphasis on tallness, in favour of the more visibly curvaceous proportions that attend a more natural height.
In selecting attractive models with opulent proportions, Seventeen is finally giving young full-figured girls the opportunity to see idealized versions of themselves, and creating a fashion-industry aspirational fantasy based on their own curvaceous appearance.
Furthermore, it is providing the public with a positive image of full-figured youth that the media otherwise continues to suppress.
However, these images from Seventeen do not merely exhibit a distant ideal, but represent the norm among today's plus-size girls. Today's voluptuous vixens--the Christina Schmidt generation--are stylish, poised, confident, and increasingly comfortable with their natural proportions.
And it's encouraging to see one magazine finally acknowledging this.
- Plus-size beauty = supermodel beauty