Body-shaming a body-shaming industry…
See the image above? These are the secret pads that beautiful, non-plus-size models wear to sell clothing to plus-size women. Women who maybe can’t shop in Topshop. Women who love fashion, but are often alienated by it. Women who are led to believe that brands are extending a hand of friendship by releasing plus-size ranges.
For reference, throughout this post I will shorten ‘plus-size models’ to PS models, and ‘non-plus-size models’ to NPS models.
In many campaigns, NPS models are padded out to model plus-size ranges. That’s right ladies, the company who made the effort to develop their range to cater for a UK 18 up to a UK size 26+ would still rather ‘chunk out’ a NPS woman to sell these clothes to you. Even worse, sometimes they don’t bother with padding at all, and you’re faced with an image of a model who couldn’t be over a size 12 wearing a dress that has been cleverly clipped back to make you think it fits. The sad reality is that most fashionable and affordable brands like New Look, Boohoo, ASOS and Dorothy Perkins will use a non plus-size model, and pad her out. Frankly, it’s insulting.
I understand that models have a universally acknowledged standard of ‘beauty’. I know they need to be commercial and relatable, often in the girl-next-door sense. Realistically, the problem is with the brands, not the models. They have made a decision to sell their plus-size ranges using women that have nothing that we, the fat public, can relate to. They make us question our own sense of style – ‘maybe I couldn’t get away with that, it looks good on her though’. They make us insecure – ‘that dress looks like it would cling in all the wrong places, but I can’t tell because she has no lumps and bumps outside of the norm’. They make us feel disrespected – ‘why haven’t they used a PS model to sell these plus-size clothes to me?!’.
My issue is that these padded out models are advertising unrealistic plus-size bodies for most women. They maintain their thin faces and toned arms, but their waist/hip ratio is dramatically enhanced to create a wholly different silhouette. They have miraculously flat stomachs, then an extraordinarily convenient amount of fat just where it matters. Believe me, there’s not many women that can control exactly where fat sits on their body, and chances are if you put on weight it will not sit perfectly on your ass. This sets even more ridiculous expectations in the media. And don’t get me started on edited thigh gaps and the lack of cellulite on show in the media.
There are aspects of plus-size bodies that society seems particularly offended by, including: double chins, fat ankles, visible belly outlines (VBOs), wobbly arms, wobbly thighs, cellulite and backfat to name a few. I appreciate there are women under a size 16 who also relate to these features, who will also be made to feel that they don’t conform to the industry standard of ‘beauty’. I’ve seen plenty of beautiful PS models displaying a range of these features, and they did a damn good job of selling me an item of clothing that was created for my dress size. These tend to be at roadshows and conventions, and I’ve modelled at some of them myself. But it almost feels like brands are happy to use PS models in this kind of fat-friendly environment, yet won’t advertise this acceptance to their broader audience.
These companies are doing it wrong. In the back of their minds, they should know we are no longer fooled. Many companies have been publicly shamed for their representation of ‘PS’ models. Others have had one-off campaigns about body acceptance where they feature a larger variety of models for a short while. Often, these campaigns actually involve competition winners and bloggers. Some of these opportunities are amazing, and produce inspiring and uplifting content. But after all this excitement, their new season range is published online, and once again we are looking at a woman who is padded out to look like a very toned yet conveniently plump size 16.
As a young plus-size woman, I feel like I’m being mocked by the very people who are telling me I deserve to feel good about myself. And I am not alone.
I would now like to celebrate the beautiful, confident women I have had the pleasure of working with in the past. These are PS models of all shapes and sizes. Some of them are bloggers too, but many advertise themselves as PS models separately from their blogs, as I do. As I’ve previously mentioned, this is usually in a catwalk context, however these events have always been a success and will continue to celebrate the plus-size community for years to come. I’ll be featuring pictures from Style XL, Curvy Convention 15/16, and The Curve Fashion Festival 2016. These women have probably walked hundreds of miles in high heels! I’ve featured the models I’ve particularly got along with in the past, who have contributed to my own confidence and have made an impact on my experiences.
These gorgeous ladies are in no particular order, may I add:
Aimee fucking Tink is the reason I got into plus-size modelling. She’s a bad-ass bitch, no question about it. She’s been an incredible mentor and friend to me. I adore her laugh, her quirks, and her filthy sense of humour. She’s also an incredible business woman, and has spent so much time on her successful company that I miss seeing her regular photoshoots! I can’t wait to see her soon, along with her pineapple princess Sam Rowswell! Sam has walked the catwalk herself, and has been my wing-woman at many blogger events. She’s colourful, opinionated, and tells me when I’m wearing one too many accessories (take off the belt Minty). We make a pretty sexy team, if I do say so myself.
I adore Emily Blake. She’s one of the sweetest people I know, always professional and always looks incredible. She has such a unique and exotic look, and regularly changes her hair to suit what she’s modelling. She was crowned Miss British Beauty Curve in 2014, and has used this as a platform to promote body confidence as well as gaining experience in being a TV presenter, one of her dreams. She’s got a body to kill for, a gorgeous smile, and a heart of gold. I can’t wait to work with her again!
Jerri Hoath is a gorgeous and passionate mother and model. She has worked as a fit model for River Island, as well as working with Apple Bottom, Dea London and Rosie Red corsetry. She’s truly stunning in real life as well as in photos, and has an absolutely amazing runway walk. I hope Jerri gets a lot more publication soon, as she works very hard for her success.
I love running into Melissa Norton! She’s super tall, over 6’3″ I believe! This doesn’t stop her from strutting down the runway in heels, a true glamazon! Melissa isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and this has earned her a lot of respect. She is a fabulous ambassador for tall ladies, and I want her to be recognised more for this. She’s funny, loyal, fierce, and I can’t wait to see more of her!
Pippa is a natural beauty in every sense of the phrase. She’s got such an angelic look, but a wicked sense of humour! She has already been snapped up by several companies including Millie Couture Bridal, Love Honey Lingerie and Scarlett & Jo. Her porcelain white skin and beautiful long hair make her a perfect choice for bridal, yet she is also comfortable on the catwalk in racey lacey underwear. As you can see, she’s no stranger to being flirty in front of the camera, and I could easily see her on the ASOS Curve website pulling this cheeky wink!
Kat Henry is a plus-size model who also runs a lifestyle blog, The World Through Kat’s Eyes. Kat has opened her heart to the public and is not afraid to tell her story of self-acceptance. She holds the titles of Ms British Beauty Curve 2015, Ambassador for Ms Curvaceous UK, Founding member & model for The Rubenesque Effect, as well as having several successful social media profiles. She’s an infectious bubble of laughs whenever I’m around her, and thankfully that is semi regularly when there are events going on!
Karina Nyananyo modelled for the first time at Curvy Convention 2016, and she won’t mind me saying she hit a big birthday milestone the same year! Looking fab at 50, she has no problem representing the more mature age range. She is truly a shining star, and she belongs on a billboard, as well as being a sweetheart that radiates such warmth. She is uniquely beautiful, statuesque, and has a super sassy walk!
I met Eleanor in the queue for The Curvy Convention’s model auditions. She had one of her gorgeous children with her, and anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a cutie in a pram! She was super nervous but shouldn’t have been, she’s a natural! After Curvy Con, Eleanor went on to be chosen as one of the winners for #faceofyours, and is currently all over the Yours Clothing website and stores! She’s a pint sized perfect parcel and a real sweetheart.
Danielle Gardiner is truly one to watch. She has incredible bone structure, a stunning figure, and has a fantastic sense of humour! I adored the time I got to spend with her, and I’m so proud of how much she has achieved in such a short space of time. She’s quickly gaining popularity on social media, has been approached by some big name brands, has launched her own range of eyelashes, and still has time to be a fantastic mum!
I’m so glad Beckelle came into my life. She’s an internationally published model, and a real life Barbie doll! She serves amazing face and is beautifully confident as a plus-size model. I met her at a strange point in her life, but I’m thankful we got to spend time together. She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and I’m glad she is on UK soil so that she can get the opportunities she deserves in this exciting industry.
Paige Christie is a bad-ass bombshell. She is such a strong body-positive activist, and regularly stands up for what she believes in. She’s beautiful, curvy, fierce and sexy! I love her instagram especially, she has been super helpful whenever I need advice, from business to wigs! I can’t wait to see more of her, she can literally rock any style!
Sian Yapp is not only a gorgeous model, but a wonderfully generous person too! She was kind enough to lend me the lace gown I wore at Sexhibition 2016. Sian is also part of The Rubenesque Effect, and has such a unique and beautiful face. I love her headshots, but she does a great job on the runway too!
Hannah has the bone structure of a goddess. She looks hot in everything, and has rightly been recognized as a successful plus-size model. She is now signed to Models Plus, and has also appeared as one of the winners of #faceofyours. She’s beautiful, kind, hardworking, and I know a lot of women will be able to relate to her proportions.
Though I am yet to work with Louise, I have to mention her! She’s one of the many beautiful plus-size pinup and fetish models in the UK, and I truly idolize her. What is hilarious is that she recognized me first when we met at Sexhibition 2016! I mean, just look at her. Such a goddess. You keep on being you! I really hope Louise and I can work together in the future, so keep your eyes peeled and you may see us together soon!
It is hard work, but worth it to spend time with such beautiful girls, inside and out!
I adore the word ‘fat’. As soon as I reclaimed it from bullies and its negative connottations, I felt a million dollars. Stating and accepting I am ‘fat’ has meant that it can no longer be an insult. To me, it’s just an adjective, like ‘beautiful’ or ‘fierce’. It means the same to me as ‘curvy’ or ‘voluptuous’, so I use it to describe myself in a positive light. I am hilarious, beautiful, obnoxious, crude, intelligent, witty, loyal, hardworking and fat. The list goes on! So I would be doing myself a discredit to not be on this list. I am also a plus-size model, and proud of my achievements in 2016. Watch out, 2017!
So there’s a round-up of delicious, real plus-size models. Look at that diversity! There are tall, short, black, white, tattooed, alternative, natural, older and younger models in this collection. If companies were to feature more models like this, a huge change would ripple through the industry. Beautiful models with cellulite, touching thighs, VBOs, stretch marks, double chins and more, would be modelling clothes to sell to beautiful women with cellulite, touching thighs, VBOs, stretch marks, double chins and more.
For the love of god, please use fat women to sell fat clothes. It’s basic common sense!