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Old 28th August 2005   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Thin celebrities in plus-size fashion? (How to deal)

Obviously, there is no rule that stipulates that a designer of plus-size fashion needs to be full-figured herself. Nor does a photographer, nor an editor, nor anyone else who is involved in the industry need to be full-figured . . . except, of course, for the models.

After all, designers, photographers, and editors operate behind the scenes, and are known for their work, not for their image, whereas the models are the public face of the industry.

But celebrity involvement in plus-size fashion presents us with a special case.

Regardless of the medium in which they achieve renown, celebrities are known, first and foremost, for their public image--i.e., their physical appearance. Therefore, any publicity they get, and any endorsements they make, immediately become promotions of their physical image as well.

Celebrities in general are problematic spokespersons for plus-size fashion, because most will invariably put their show-business careers first, and will sell out to any diet or weight-loss company that pays them enough money, and/or promises them big publicity, if they promote their product. We've seen it happen too often in the past to deny this inescapable fact.

But the intrusion of underweight celebrities into plus-size fashion is even more questionable.

First and foremost, having a Hollywood-thin celebrity promoting wares for the plus-size fashion industry is somewhat humiliating, because it underscores the dearth of plus-size celebrities who fall into this category (i.e., celebrities who are in the teen/twentysomething range, and would be cast as the "love interest" rather than the "character actress" in a motion picture).

There is also the unfortunate fact that many celebrities adopt a somewhat raunchy image for their careers (whether intentionally, or due to the prompting of their publicity teams). This hardly sits well with the tastes of the plus-size public, which, while it enjoys excitement, also appreciates a modicum of class and taste.

But what makes the circumstances even more regrettable is if the celebrity in question has specifically attracted publicity for diminishing her already emaciated figure.

Therefore, to have a non-plus celebrity's image covering plus-size fashion stores is to send not just a mixed message, but an actively negative one. It carries with it the implication that "This person is what you should look like," and specifically, "This is the figure you should have, because she is a famous celebrity, and you know you want to be just like her."

The whole point of plus-size fashion advertising is to provide an alternative media, an escape from this kind of change-your-body brainwashing. To see this subversive message undermined by the presence of a product of the Hollywood indoctrination machine is regrettable.

And even if some plus-size customers feel that they are inured to such messages, they should at least have the empathy to realize that (a) not everyone is similarly inured, (b) younger girls are specifically vulnerable to these messages, and (c) there is no reason why full-figured women should need to become inured to this, in the first place.

* * *

But faced with non-plus celebrity involvement in the plus-size fashion industry, is there any way that the industry could at least mitigate the negative effects of such a presence?

Perhaps. The most obvious approach would be to feature visibly plus-size models showing off the apparel, and to have those models' images feature prominently in all of the advertising, instead of the celebrity's.

Thus, at least viewers would associate plus-size imagery with the brand name, and not the celebrity's own artificial appearance.

One other, more elaborate approach would require coaxing a pro-curvy statement out of the celebrity, something along the lines of her stating, "Wow, I wish I could look that good in those!" while looking--with envy--at a plus-size model wearing an article of her clothing.

This would send the message to customers that plus-size women look even better in the celebrity's designs that the underweight celebrity would, herself.

This way, the industry could turn the potentially negative aspects of the celebrity's presence in plus-size fashion ("Great, here's another ad telling us that we should look like skinny") into a positive ("Hey--we curvy girls look better in her clothing that she ever could").

Wilhelmina's Melissa King, in a particularly popular denim ad:

Last edited by HSG : 2nd September 2005 at 18:05.
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Old 2nd September 2005   #2
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 633
Default Re: Thin celebrities in plus-size fashion? (How to deal)

I think I finally found a jeans ad that is roughly comparable with Melissa King's famous Gloria Vanderbilt poster (which, I agree, is one of the best denim promos ever).

It's from Macy's, and it shows size-14 Ashley Graham:

Great hairstyle on Miss Graham, too. It's too bad Macy's doesn't use more true plus-size models. When it does, eg Barbara and Ashley, the results are top notch.
Kaitlynn is offline   Reply With Quote

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