The Judgment of Paris

A Plus-Size Model Survey

“Beauty implies a good-sized body, and little people may be neat and well-proportioned, but cannot be beautiful.”
-Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.

Which of the following would you judge to be the most beautiful plus-size model (and therefore, the most beautiful woman) in the world?

Sophie Sheppard Sophie Sheppard

“There are no words to describe her save the old ones that have served so often to picture the bygone heroine of romance and the fairy lady of our dreams. There was nothing subtle or hidden about her charms; her beauty was all there, flaming and apparent: the spun-gold hair that comb nor confining pin could restrain; the blue eyes that were like nothing but sapphires; two lips that pouted, that were so red one could only think of cherries or some other delicious crimson fruit in looking at them. She was growing a little stout, but it did not seem to detract an iota from the grace of every step, pose, gesture. One would not have wanted her neck a mite less full or her beautiful arms more slender.”

Kate Chopin, The Awakening. (1899)

Kelsey Olson Kelsey Olson

“Nana, very tall and well-developed for her eighteen years, in the white tunic of a goddess, with her long blonde hair hanging loosely over her shoulders, walked towards the footlights with a calm self-assurance…The young gentlemen in white gloves, also captivated by Nana’s curves, applauded ecstatically…Without being at all disturbed, she moved her hip in a way that revealed its curves beneath her thin tunic…Nana was so white and plump, so natural…each time her neck swelled voluptuously when she turned her head…all the adorable freshness of her plump blonde beauty…She seemed to have grown suddenly larger…She slowly spread her arms to display her plump, Venus-like torso…What an impression she had made in that crystal grotto, with her voluptuous figure!…she drove the audience wild just by showing herself. A body like hers would never be seen again—those shoulders, those legs, that waist!”

Émile Zola, Nana. (1880)

Shannon Marie Shannon Marie

“At all ordinary diet and plain beverage she would pout; but she fed on creams and ices like a humming bird on honey-paste: sweet wine was her element and sweet cake her daily bread…Miss Fanshawe’s travels, gaieties, and flirtations agreed with her mightily; she had become quite plump, her cheeks looked as round as apples…she had an excellent appetite, like any healthy schoolgirl, for the morning pistolets or rolls, which were new-baked and very good…[I] rather liked to let her take the lion’s share, whether of the white beer, the sweet wine, or the new milk…[hers was] the beauty that strikes the eye like a rose—orbed, ruddy, and replete…plump, and pink, and flaxen…[I was] paired with Ginevra Fanshawe, bearing on my arm the dear pressure of that angel’s not unsubstantial limb…”

Charlotte Brontë, Villette. (1852)

Mayara Russi Mayara Russi

“She looked down at her arms: no arms could be prettier down to a little way below the elbow—they were white and plump, and dimpled to match her cheeks…It would be the easiest folly in the world to fall in love with her: there is a sweet babylike roundness about her face and figure…he could glance at her continually as she bent over the fruit, while the level evening sunbeams stole through the thick apple-tree boughs, and rested on her round cheek and neck as if they too were in love with her…neither is it a weakness to be so wrought upon by the exquisite curves of a woman’s cheek and neck and arms, by the liquid depths of her beseeching eyes, or the sweet childish pout of her lips…It seems to be a far-off mighty love that has come near to us, and made speech for itself there; the rounded neck, the dimpled arm, move us by something more than their prettiness…the great dark eyes and the sweet lips were as beautiful as ever, perhaps more beautiful, for there was a more luxuriant womanliness about Hetty of late.”

George Eliot, Adam Bede. (1859)

Katherine Roll Katherine Roll

“The other was certainly Georgiana, but not the Georgiana I remembered—the slim and fairy-like girl of eleven. This was a full-blown, very plump damsel, fair as waxwork, with handsome and regular features, languishing blue eyes, and ringleted yellow hair. In each of the sisters there was one trait of the mother…the blooming and luxuriant younger girl had her contour of jaw and chin—perhaps a little softened, but still imparting an indescribable hardness to the countenance, otherwise so voluptuous and buxom.”

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre. (1847)

Hayley B. Hayley B.

“Arabella Trefoil was a beauty, and a woman of fashion, and had captivated the Paragon…Arabella Trefoil was to be seen at all parties magnificently dressed, and never stirred anywhere without her own maid. It would have been as grievous to her to be called on to live without food as to go without this necessary appendage. She was a big, fair girl whose copious hair was managed after such a fashion…She certainly had fine eyes… They were very large, beautifully blue, but never bright; and the eyebrows over them were perfect…But the beauty on which she prided herself was the grace of her motion. Though she was tall and big she never allowed an awkward movement to escape from her…She rather liked being hated by women…John Morton, who had really been captivated by the beauty of Arabella, was quite in earnest…She was very beautiful—certainly…Arabella was certainly very handsome at this moment.”

Anthony Trollope, The American Senator. (1875)

Charlotte Coyle modelling for Torrid, Fall/Winter 2004 Charlotte Coyle

“Moderately buxom was her shape, and quite womanly too…He often glanced across at Mercy, and seemed to draw comparisons between the personal appearance of the two, which were not unfavourable to the superior plumpness of the younger sister…the more she ate, the better the bargain was…Miss Mercy Pecksniff looks downward for her scarf. Where is it? Dear me, where can it be? Sweet girl, she has it on; not on her fair neck, but loose upon her flowing figure…”

Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit. (1843–44)

Valerie Lefkowitz Valerie Lefkowitz

“A plump, fair-skinned girl was standing in the doorway…Lena’s candid eyes, that always looked a little sleepy under their long lashes, kept straying about the cheerful rooms with naïve admiration…Until that morning no one…had realized how pretty she was, or that she was growing up. The swelling lines of her figure had been hidden…Lena moved without exertion, rather indolently…When we passed a candy store her footsteps would hesitate and linger. ‘Don’t let me go in,’ she would murmur. ‘Get me by if you can.’ She was very fond of sweets, and was afraid of growing too plump…Lena was never so pretty as in the morning; she waked fresh with the world every day, and her eyes had a deeper colour then, like the blue flowers that are never so blue as when they first open.”

Willa Cather, My Ántonia. (1918)

Kailee O'Sullivan Kailee O’Sullivan

“Eulalie was…very finely shaped: she was fair and her features were those of a Low-Country Madonna; many a ‘figure de Vierge’ have I seen in Dutch pictures, exactly resembling hers; there were no angles in her shape or in her face, all was curve and roundness…her noble bust heaved with regular breathing, her eyes moved a little—by these evidences of life alone, could I have distinguished her from some large handsome figure, moulded in wax…Eulalie raised her unmoved eye to mine, and seemed to expect, passively but securely, an impromptu tribute to her majestic charms…Eulalie, the proud beauty, the Juno of the school…”

Charlotte Brontë, The Professor. (1845–46)

Justine Legault on the cover of Elle Quebec, May 2013 Justine Legault

“She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of her father’s peaches, and universally famed, not merely for her beauty, but for her vast expectations. She was withal a little of a coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms. She wore…the tempting stomacher of the olden time, and withal a provokingly short petticoat.”

Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (1820)

Barbara Brickner Barbara Brickner

“Her figure was a little fuller than it used to be, but her movements were as soft and sinuous as ever…the harmonious colours of her dress, and her slow and graceful movements, had something of the same soothing effect upon his nerves that a cat’s purring has upon some people’s.”

Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters. (1864–66)

Andrea Horblitt Andrea Horblitt

“Emma said she would put it off until after dinner, and that Dolly must dine with her. As Dolly had made up her mind to do so before-hand, she required very little pressing…Emma was so fair, and Dolly so rosy, and Emma so delicately shaped, and Dolly so plump…When and where was there ever such a plump, roguish, comely, bright-eyed, enticing, bewitching, captivating, maddening little puss in all the world, as Dolly! What was the Dolly of five years ago, to the Dolly of that day!…How many young ladies had publicly professed, with tears in their eyes, that for their tastes she was much too bold…too stout…too everything but handsome!…It was sufficiently evident, both to Emma and to the locksmith's poor little daughter herself, that she, Dolly, was the great object of attraction…sweet, blooming, buxom Dolly.”

Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge. (1841)

Marritt Pike Marritt Pike

“[She had] a high brow, a glorious complexion, a nose as finely modelled as though a Grecian sculptor had cut it, a small mouth, but lovely in its curves, and a chin that finished and made perfect the symmetry of her face. Her neck was long, but graceful as a swan’s, her bust was full, and her whole figure like that of a goddess…She was very beautiful. Florence owned to herself as she sat there in silence, that Lady Ongar was the most beautiful woman that she had ever seen.”

Anthony Trollope, The Claverings. (1866–67)

Karen Vermeiren Karen Vermeiren

“Eustacia Vye was the raw material of a divinity. On Olympus she would have done well with a little preparation. She had the passions and instincts which make a model goddess…She was in person full-limbed and somewhat heavy; without ruddiness, as without pallor; and soft to the touch as a cloud. To see her hair was to fancy that a whole winter did not contain darkness enough to form its shadow: it closed over her forehead like nightfall extinguishing the western glow…Mrs. Yeobright remained for some time silent and shaken, as if she could say no more. Then she replied, ‘Best? Is it best for you to injure your prospects for such a voluptuous, idle woman as that?’”

Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native. (1878)

Christina Schmidt Christina Schmidt

“[A] young woman with a very full bust came briskly out of the door…she noticed that she was attracting everybody’s attention, and that pleased her…As soon as she appeared, the eyes of all the men in the court turned her way, and remained fixed on her white face, her sparklingly-brilliant eyes and the swelling bosom…all that was good in the world was for her. And it seemed to him that Katusha was aware that it was all for her when he looked at her well-shaped figure, the tucked white dress, the wrapt, joyous expression of her face…the developed figure, the fulness of the bosom and lower part of the face…She was an attractive woman, and therefore she was an important and necessary person. The whole of her former and present life was a confirmation of the correctness of this conception.…Whenever she was alone [she] again and again pulled the photograph partly out of the envelope and looked at it admiringly…and could not cease from admiring especially herself.”

Leo Tolstoy, Resurrection. (1899–1900)

Yanderis Lodos Yanderis Lodos

“I went down into the garden and soon found myself in front of an admirable statue. It was indeed a Venus, and one of extraordinary beauty. The upper part of her body was bare, just as the ancients usually depicted their great deities…It is impossible to imagine anything more perfect than the body of that Venus; nothing could be more harmonious or more voluptuous than her outlines…What struck me most of all was the exquisite truth of form, which might have led one to suppose that it had been moulded by nature herself, if nature ever produced such perfect specimens…Disdain, irony, cruelty, could be distinguished in that face which was, notwithstanding, of incredible beauty…‘If the model ever existed,’ I said to Monsieur de Peyrehorade, ‘and I doubt if Heaven ever produced such a woman, how I pity her lovers! She must have delighted in making them die of despair. There is something ferocious in her expression, and yet I have never seen anything so beautiful.’”

Prosper Mérimée, The Venus of Ille.” (1837)

Liis Liis

“‘There, sit so, and tell me, for in truth now I desire praises—tell me, am I not beautiful? Nay, speak not so hastily; consider well the point; take me feature by feature, forgetting not my form…hast thou ever known a woman who in aught, ay, in one little portion of her beauty, in a curve of an eyelash even, or the modelling of a shell-like ear, is justified to hold a lamp before my loveliness? Now, my waist! Perchance thou thinkest it too large, but of a truth it is not so; it is this golden snake that is too large, and doth not bind it as it should. It is a wise snake, and knoweth that it is ill to tie in the waist.’”

H. Rider Haggard, She. (1887)

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Sophie Sheppard
Kelsey Olson
Shannon Marie
Mayara Russi
Katherine Roll
Hayley B.
Charlotte Coyle
Valerie Lefkowitz
Kailee O’Sullivan
Justine Legault
Barbara Brickner
Andrea Horblitt
Marritt Pike
Karen Vermeiren
Christina Schmidt
Yanderis Lodos

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