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Old 16th March 2011   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Ashleigh in ''Dolly'' magazine

The size-positive news coming out of Australia continues to amaze and inspire the rest of the world.

This thread covers a particularly gorgeous and inspiring editorial by Ashleigh, one of the younger girls from Bella Model Management. At an Australian size 16, Ashleigh commendably qualifies as a true plus-size model, which is particularly admirable given her youth, for the junior-plus category is all too often crowded with faux-plus girls.

We first noted Ashleigh thanks to a striking test image in her book. The picture boasts excellent wardrobe styling, great lighting, a splendidly joyful look from the model, and a fine presentation of her figure. The setting offers a narrative suggestion, as if the motorway corresponded to the road of life, and the model represented a romantic entanglement who might distract one from one's planned journey, turning one's world upside-down (hence the symbolic speed bump).

Ashleigh's editorial appears in the current issue of Dolly magazine, which is the Australian equivalent of Seventeen--i.e., the nation's top fashion magazine for younger women. The layout is part of an especially commendable trend that has recently blessed the plus-size fashion world, a theme that one could term "pro indulgence."

This theme goes back at least as far as a campaign for Jessica Simpson's "Dessert Beauty" line of cosmetics, This year, it made a dramatic return in the exciting depiction of Malaika at the Carpenter's Daughter, then was picked up by Holly Madison for her photoshoot celebrating dimpled flesh, and most recently figured in the Embody Denim campaign with Tenille Roberts.

But Dolly is the first magazine to incorporate this concept into a bona fide editorial layout. And in every sense, from the wardrobe to the setups to the fact that it features a true plus-size model, this is a well-nigh perfect editorial for younger women. It is an intimate-apparel story, yet completely tasteful and wholesome, and entirely age appropriate.

The cover page sets the theme. Ashleigh is seen alongside another model, with a host of delectable desserts spread out in front of them. The positive message is clear: girls need not obsess about their weight or suffer needless complexes about eating, but should enjoy life freely. Ashleigh's happy demeanour indicates how much more pleasurable life can be for young women when they learn to love themselves just as they are. Her wardrobe styling is very pretty--comfortable, colourful sleepwear, and a hair accessory that recalls Hawaiian floral headbands, subtly giving the image a relaxed, vacation feeling.

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The finest and most affirmative picture in the entire layout is the next one, showing Ashleigh and her peers lounging on a sofa, freely enjoying their delicious treats. They appear comfortable and relaxed--the thought of any miserable diet-starvation or exercise-torture the furthest things from their minds. With her shapely legs, Ashleigh is clearly the most attractive of the three. Ideally, the shoot would have featured plus-size models exclusively, but the message of showing a full-figured girl looking confident and happy amid thin girls is positive in and of itself.

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The editorial suggests a look at first-year college life, with young women cohabiting a girls' dorm, nonchalantly going about their daily routines in the company of their peers, without any backstabbing or rivalry, but rather mutual encouragement and a cheerful, party atmosphere. Even doing a bit of laundry can be a fun endeavour among friends. The photographer did an excellent job of creating situations that resemble candid photos, without a trace of artifice.

Click to enlarge

Something that is especially appealing about this layout is the joyful, fun-loving mood that it generates, a mood that seems completely natural and genuine, not at all forced or stagey. It is like a window into a better world, a world where the mass media and its promotion of androgynous emaciation has no influence, a world where curvy girls like Ashleigh are self-assured, and the favourites in their peer group.

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Ashleigh is an amirable young model, and a real find for Bella. She has a charming demeanour, a perfect plus-size figure, and her long hair gives her clients the opportunities to all sorts of creating things with it, such as putting it into this lovely braid. Usually when magazines for younger women include plus-size models, they cop out and select faux plus-girls, and even then often hide them in the margins. But the Dolly team clearly was delighted with Ashleigh's appearance and celebrated her curves.

Click to enlarge

So what's the secret? What makes Dolly's feature so much more successful than other junior-plus editorials? As noted above, selecting a genuinely full-figured girl, shooting a pro-indulgence theme (complete with desserts), and creating a wholesome, fun-loving mood were key ingredients, but the graphic in following picture reveals Dolly's one other, all-important recipe for success: a "Retouch Free Zone."

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The absence of any retouching means that the images show the models in their natural, attractive state, not Photoshopped into plastic artificiality. Even the model to the right of Ashleigh in the laundry picture, above, and at the far left, below, is shown to have a trace of substance at her waist, a more natural figure than straight-size models are usually ever depicted as having.

Click to enlarge

Bravo to Dolly magazine for showing the world what an ideal junior-plus editorial can look like. The magazine selected an authentically curvy model, created a relaxed and happy mood, did not retouch the models' figures but left them natural, and indicated that girls should feel comfortable eating whatever they like.

Bravo as well to Bella for representing such a promising young talent. And kudos, of course, to Ashleigh herself, for such a marvellous editorial debut. She should take pride in the fact that her images will surely help young women worldwide feel better about themselves and their figures. For which girl, comparing the happy, comfortable world that this editorial creates, with the miserable world of starvation and torture that the fashion industry usually imposes on society, would not prefer to inhabit the joyful existence that Dolly has presented?

This layout is both a snapshot of the world as it should be, and of the media as it should be. Bravo to the magazine and the model for showing the way.

- Ashleigh at Bella Models

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Old 16th March 2011   #2
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 633
Default Re: Ashleigh in ''Dolly'' magazine

What a stunning editorial. Just looking at it improves body confidence. How I wish that we had publications running layouts like this in North America.

It's so sadly true that on the rare occasions when American magazines deign to include a full-figured model, she's usually just faux-plus, and she's barely visible in the pictures at all. Here, on the other hand, Ashleigh is dominant in the pictures, and she's beautifully and truly curvy.

In particular, Ashleigh has just about the best legs of any plus-size model. No wonder her test image, and this magazine, celebrated her shapely legs.

Originally Posted by HSG

The absence of any retouching means that the images show the models in their natural, attractive state, not Photoshopped into plastic artificiality. Even the model to the right of Ashleigh in the laundry shown to have a trace of substance at her waist...

I noticed that and was encouraged by it. It gives me an idea for a storyline to the editorial. In this narrative of college dorm life, Ashleigh is having a positive influence on the other girls in her dorm. Perhaps the blonde model was formerly a girl who tragically starved herself (whether through the negative influence of the media, or an exacting mother, or whatever), but now, living with Ashleigh and seeing how happy and confident Ashleigh is in her skin, the blonde is learning to free herself from her body-image issues as well, and has finally stopped starving herself, and is gaining a hint of soft curves.

The result is that all of the girls have now finally learned to enjoy food and not to be afraid of it- and they're happier as a result- all thanks to Ashleigh's influence:

I think Ashleigh's editorial could have that kind of positive influence on many young girls who see it. Bravo to her, and to Dolly, for such a fine presentation.
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Old 17th March 2011   #3
Suzanne R
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 13
Default Re: Ashleigh in ''Dolly'' magazine

Her hair is absolutely luxurious. I can't get over the photo where she leans to the left with her hair spilling over her shoulder... Even the one with her hair in a plait. It's simply fantastic!
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Old 17th March 2011   #4
ZoŽ Josephine
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Join Date: February 2011
Posts: 6
Default Re: Ashleigh in ''Dolly'' magazine

While I was looking at these images I kept thinking to myself how lovely they were, and wondering why most magazine editorials don't hold a candle to this beauty. And then I read, ďretouch free zone.Ē Of course! This looks like natural beauty because it is natural beauty. If only we had such magazines in America! The magazines aimed at my age group have little more than diet-starvation tips. And when plus-size women appear in magazines, they too often tend to be Photoshopped to have a so-called ďperfectĒ (actually, unattractively artificial-looking) body.
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