Body Image: Plus Size Models, Hardly Plus Essay

While discussing the modeling industry today, many would argue that plus-size models have made a massive stride in obtaining respect in a business that demands skinny. More and more full-figured women have graced high-fashion magazines covers and walked in main-stream fashion shows. For example, Australian model Robyn Lawley posed for the cover of French Elle, Vogue Italia, and French Marie Claire. Just recently, Lawley became the first plus-size model for Ralph Lauren.

Still, successes such as Lawley’s are rare and plus-size models gaining respect in the main-stream modeling world is hardly a common occurrence.

The modeling industry is under constant scrutiny. For decades the most popular topic of complaint is that models are too thin. Reputations of eating disorders and unhealthy diets are linked to the industry. However, over the past few years, a slightly different subject is the focus of countless news articles, magazines, and blogs. The plus-size modeling industry gathers more attention now than ever before.

The argument heard all around the world is that the average plus-size model wears a size far from plus.

The fashion industry claims that they embrace women of different shapes and sizes, but it is obvious from most magazine spreads and standard model sample sizes that what is claimed is only to please the public. Thin models are not only favored, but given many more opportunities to book jobs than full-figured models. Some would argue that thin models are favored by the industry because that is what viewers desire. However, I would argue just the opposite.

Consumers desire thinner models because the industry has convinced the public that thinner is better. Discrimination towards plus-size models or just average-sized women in general results in body image disputes all over the world. Some examples of the full-figured women and models making their voice heard are Plus Model Magazine’s editorial “Plus Size Bodies, What is wrong with them anyway? ’ and Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. These two movements fought back against the skinny mold and have brought the plus-size modeling industry to front page news.

Women are taught by the fashion industry that thinner is better. Everyday women are brainwashed to believe that they are only attractive if they fit into a size two. Eating disorders and other body image problem rates are higher than ever. Plus Model Magazine’s article discusses this issue: “Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23 percent less” and “most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for Anorexia. ” But normal-sized models aren’t the only ones shrinking.

The average size of a full-figured model is size 6-14, when just ten years ago the range was size 12-18. How are women supposed to feel beautiful if the so-called “plus” models are smaller than the size of an average woman? Editor-and-Chief Madeline Jones wrote the article to raise awareness to the corrupt modeling industry. Articles such as this have done just that, still nothing really seems to be changing. Small strides to change the industry, such as Jones’ article, start a fire but are soon burnt out by the main-stream modeling industry storm.

One of the most famous movements supporting women of all different sizes is Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. The campaign was launched in 2004 and focused on encouraging women to embrace their bodies regardless of shape or size. The most well-known part of the campaign is a photo of women with completely different bodies, yet all referred to as beautiful. The photograph generated a lot of noise because it showed “average size” women accepting their bodies. Regardless of the success of Dove’s campaign there was a disappointing outcome.

One billboard asked viewers to vote on whether a woman on the billboard was “fat” or “fab”. In October 2004 “fab” lead 51% to 49%, but eventually the percentage of “fat” votes overtook “fab. ” This demonstrates how negative people are towards women who are not model-thin. In 2006, Dove started the Dove Self-Esteem Fund fought to alter the Western concept of beauty from ultra-thin models to making every girl feel comfortable in her own skin. Overall, Dove’s campaign rose awareness to the negatively changing image of what is beautiful.

Movements like the “Real Beauty” campaign are needed to help women with body image issues. The modeling industry severely damages the way the world sees beauty. Women with a full-figure or curves are seen as overweight. Plus-size models change to fit a mold more desired by the corrupt fashion-model industry. Plus-size models face challenges like being restricted because there are very few designers that carry larger sizes. Yet, the size of a plus-size model is about a size 14, which isn’t really large.

It is unclear whether the modeling industry is really making a change for the better, or if it is just a fad to embrace full-figured women. Still, the ideal thin figure is what causes people to have body image issues. The plus-size industry might be expanding, but the requirements of the plus models are hardly reasonable, much like the requirements for ordinary models are extremely unhealthy. The modeling industry causes for a skewed view of what is attractive and results in body image problems all around the world.

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