When it comes to fashion we all know that unfortunately, thin is in. Having the bodily dimensions and appearance of a wire hanger is strangely appealing the fashion community, and MUIA (Modeling Under the Influence of Anorexia) has long been the industry standard. Of course, recent events such as the death of Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston in 2006 due to complications of anorexia have raised a larger scale awareness about the dangers of the fashion industry’s excessive obsession with being skinny, but the world of editorial fashion is still dominated by the very thin. With their latest issue, however, high end fashion bible V Magazine decided to present images to the contrary of “editorial chic”.
Enlisting fashion photog Terry Richardson, the magazine paired well-known plus size model and author Crystal Renn against up-and-comer runway model Jacquelyn Jablonski in a spread that depicts both modeling the same looks. Styled by Mel Ottenberg, it’s rare that a plus-sized model is given the opportunity to participate in such an editorial based shoot for a major magazine like V. The looks are daring, edgy and sexy, focusing on body-con looks that are normally reserved for the skinniest of fashion specimens. I commend V for putting a fuller figured body type front and center, instead of covering her in a sack and hiding her in the corner. In many of the shots, which consist of dynamic poses, Renn’s curves lend a visual grace and flow to the image, which goes to show that sometimes thicker is better.
As daring as this is of V, my issue is more with what the definition of “plus size”. Although Renn is a respected and well known model, at 5’9″, she is hardly what would constitute “plus size” to the average woman. Her 36-31-41 frame is the equivalent of a standard American size 8, or sometimes 10. Last time I checked, plus sized began at size 14 and up? Yes, there is a nation-wide obesity epidemic going on and I’m not advocating anything along the lines of “the bigger the better”, but to tout an at-best average size woman as the second coming of plus-size is slightly discouraging. Commercial campaigns such as the Dove Real Beauty ads have used amazing, real, gorgeous HEALTHY women that were legitimately plus sized to great success, so why can’t fashion try to do the same?
Editorial fashion is a fantasy world, and that’s part of why we love it so much. We turn to Vogue or the pages of V when we want to be dazzled by something other than what we can find in our everyday world. With elaborate set designs, dynamic poses and the clothes we can only dream of, editorials revere fashion as the fantasy art form it is. However, when fashion chooses to step out of the fantasy realm of runway-inspired anorexia, am I wrong for hoping for more than this? If V wanted to provide a dynamic visual discourse on beauty in all shapes and sizes, they could have used a beautiful model who really was a real-world plus sized for the shoot, not pawn off a woman who’s half a foot-taller than I am with the same hip measurements (and I’m no where near plus sized myself). This is in no way placing any blame on Crystal Renn, who is paving the way for body acceptance in the fashion industry while looking as beautiful as humanly possible, and I still commend V magazine for even taking the risk on a plus-sized editorial. I guess I’m just saying, if you’re going to go through all the effort, go big or go home! Pun fully intended.
- Are You Size-ist?
- My Two Cents: You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman
- M.I.S.S. TV: The Colour of Beauty– Racism in the Fashion Industry
- The World According to M.I.S.S. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty: Promoting Self Esteem in Young Girls
- Hell Yeah Magazine #2 – The Pop Art Issue Out Now