How To Get Started In Plus Size Modeling – Your Instagram feed may be more diverse than ever, thanks to a host of plus-size babes using their platforms to foster a celebratory and inclusive online community, but the fashion world still has a long way to go.
From brands claiming that a lack of size inclusivity in their collections is due to the cost of material (but what about all those “oversized” blazers and boyfriend jeans?) to minimal body diversity during fashion month (in Spring ’20, from 7 ), 390 castings, only 86 plus-size models walked the catwalks, with London showing a dismal three), it is fair to say that the industry as a whole has major steps to take before really exciting representation can be achieved.
How To Get Started In Plus Size Modeling
Enter: Joey Darlinn. Tired of witnessing the industry’s double standards and illusions of inclusivity, the plus-size model and body-positive influencer teamed up with photographer Michael Mayren, owner and director of game-changing agency Brother Models, to create the Curve Board. “I’ve always felt a responsibility to present an accurate reflection of the society we live in in terms of race, gender, sexuality, age, size, ability,” says Mayren, who founded Brother in 2016. “It’s been a priority To be fair we have always included curvy and plus-size models on our regular boards but the idea to add a full board came earlier this year as Joey and I share the same core beliefs and vision, which is hard to come by in the fashion industry .”
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Although there is more coverage of plus-size bodies in mainstream media today, the representation in this visibility is what caused the duo to fight back. “As we see bigger bodies in the media, and become part of some brand’s identity, we lose sight of the general lack of inclusivity and representation,” Darlene told me before the launch. “The plus-size modeling industry has followed suit from the straight-size divisions in creating a blueprint of what a plus model is. We rarely see varying body shapes, body sizes, skin tones, feature sizes and shapes. We still adhere to a Sample size, we still create beauty standards even in the most inclusive part of the industry as a whole.
Beyond the mainstream’s acceptable version of a bigger body – an exaggerated hourglass figure – the plus-size sector must navigate the same issues as the rest of the world to consider what is and is not beautiful. “The industry still westernizes beauty in the plus division, it still marginalizes certain people, and it still creates a hierarchy that is fundamentally damaging to the mental well-being of those navigating the industry, as well as the younger generation,” Darlene says. “I’ve been in a bigger body my whole life and the way it’s policed and solicited without justification is a direct effect of the above.”
Plus-size models still have to contend with broader industry issues — sample sizes come in a standard small tokenism, a lack of plus-size stylists to work with — but Darlinn, Mayren, and the 22 Curve Board models signed up so far. The way to progress. “We have to do better, we have to break the cycle and make sure that young people can see themselves and understand that they are important. There are so many factors that contribute to body shape and size, but the same themes are always centered. We can No longer equals size to health, we have to combat fatphobia and it starts, in my opinion, with normalizing representation of all bodies,” says Darlene. “We need a new standard.” Amen to that.
That it is taboo or wrong for plus-size people to wear certain clothes that people of equal size do, like bikinis, mesh clothes, going braless or activewear, for example. It’s 2020. Plus-size women can wear whatever they feel good in. I’ve seen comments flooded with hate when an activewear brand posts a curvy model in their clothing. Women should not have to have their bodies and clothing choices policed and ridiculed simply because they look different to the “norm.” Would you expect a full-sized woman to be on a beach in a full tracksuit? We need to address why larger bodies in normal/environmentally appropriate clothing are ridiculed and over-sexualized, to the point that even their social media photos are flagged for inappropriate content. We also need to address the industry’s contribution to the unrealistic beauty standards in place in society, and how this further fuels the ignorance of plus-size fashion.
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That it is inclusive. Although there has been a shift in recent years, and an increase in curvier women landing big campaigns and editorials, it feels like many brands have found their “soleprint” – small waist and big hips. Although this is a necessary body type to represent, it has become a constant among many brands and is now the most conventionally accepted plus-size body type. Curvier women with loose skin, visible bellies, and small hips are left underrepresented. The industry cannot be truly inclusive until we see plus-size models with different/varied body types. People need to be able to go online and see people who look like themselves, their friends and their peers so they don’t constantly compare themselves to unrealistic images.
I want the industry to normalize curvier women and become the face of big brands and land huge campaigns so it can start to be seen as “normal” and not wildly praised as a rare occurrence. I want women to be free to post on Instagram without comments about how brave they are. I would like brands to include their plus-size divisions on the same social feed as their straight-size divisions so as not to reinforce the rhetoric that larger women are “different.” Brands need to start stocking larger sizes and stop using cost as an excuse for what they can’t. We need plus-size stylists and directors on set. Inclusion in every aspect of the industry is the only way forward.
Philomena Kwao. She took off when she moved to New York in 2013 and since then I’ve watched her consistently advocate for women’s rights, inclusivity in the beauty industry, and, now that she’s a mother, maternal health. From the beginning of her career, she said she wanted to use her platform to empower women. It was amazing to see her follow through on her word, and it’s one of the things that motivates me to keep pushing boundaries.
That some women cannot wear a particular style of clothing because it is not “flattering” for a larger body shape. Plus-size women can wear whatever they want and still look just as good as someone with a slimmer body type.
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When people think of plus-size models, they assume they don’t live a healthy lifestyle. Everyone is different and naturally, there is no one size fits all for women. Because bigger models are not shown as much in the industry, this leads people to believe that plus-size is not normal and therefore is unhealthy. We need to see more realistic body types being celebrated.
I want to normalize larger bodies! I want women who don’t fit society’s “beauty norms” to see models on social media who look like them and feel good. I want young girls to grow up with a healthy outlook on weight and size, so they don’t feel as if they need to fit a certain format to be considered beautiful.
Aside from every girl on the Bro Curve board, because all these ladies are amazing, my plus-size icon has to be Emma Tamsin Hill, a social media influencer and plus-size advocate. Following her online allowed me to discover a body-positive community on Instagram, with many plus-size ladies including themselves promoting self-love. It really helped me learn to love my body and it inspires me to empower other women to love themselves too.
Brands hold the ideology that plus-size bodies somehow don’t like to dress, meaning luxury streetwear and high fashion brands don’t cater to plus-size bodies, and instead, give us very basic ass material to work with, which is highly disappointing for A fashion lover like me who loves nothing more than dressing up in different styles.
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Definitely the idea that in order to be a plus-size model you need to have thick thighs with a small waist and wide hips. It literally feeds into westernized beauty, which is definitely something I’m still unlearning.
I want the industry to realize that if they want plus-size and fat bodies to shop sustainably, brands need to cater to our bodies first – sustainable brands stopping at size 14 is terrible and most certainly frustrating. I want to see inclusivity, I want representation, I want to see plus-size and fat bodies of all different shapes and sizes represented across the entire industry and not just the standardized curve body. I especially need to see bigger bodies on the catwalk to give us real representation in these spaces.
If we don’t enjoy fashion and the creativity that comes with it, we just want to cover ours
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