Plus Size Models: Is this the only way they’re acceptable?

Model Ashley Graham is the first plus size model to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated and I for one am thrilled. It’s so great that we are finally seeing bigger bodies on the cover and in the pages of various magazines now. I love it. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.

However, I find that I have some feelings about Plus Size Modeling in general. I do have one, okay maybe two, tiny observations about how the media is handling plus size models of late:

  1. Why do they always look like they’re getting ready to sexually devour someone and
  2. Why are they all under 30?

I mean, if you do a Google image search for “plus size models” (go ahead…I’ll wait, although if you’re at work, you might want to do this at home) you will see a large percentage of the photos are of larger women in seductive poses, with come hither looks in their eyes. They are posing in various forms of undress or dressed very provocatively and the image that is portrayed is that “Yes I’m plus size and I’ll crush you with my ample thighs.”

Now, I’m no prude, and my beef isn’t that they’re showing a sexy side, it’s that I’m afraid we’re setting a precedent here that says the only way a plus size woman can be acceptable is if she is SUPER SEXY. Why do they all have to look like tigresses on the hunt? Can’t a plus size woman be sexy while she reads a book? Can’t a plus size woman be desirable while she shops for groceries? Can’t a plus size woman be acceptable just living her life?

Which brings me to my next question – Where are the plus size models over 40 years old? I don’t see them being represented in the Google image search. I understand that in regular modeling, the over 40 crowd isn’t well represented either, which sucks a bunch, but again, are we saying that it’s only okay to be plus size if you’re super sexy and young? 

And while I’m at it (yep, I’m on a roll)…it seems to me that there is only one “acceptable” type of plus size body – big breasts, smallish waist, larger hips and thighs, and long legs. Go back to that earlier Google image search you did and see if I’m wrong. Do you see a pattern there in the types of models that are acceptable for Plus Size Modeling? There might be a few bodies that differ from that, but not many.

And before you think that I’m picking on Plus Size Models, I’m SO not. Not at all. What I am picking on is the fact that there are so many beautiful, yet diverse bodies out there that are photograph-able. I want to see someone like myself (a mom), my age (45) and body size and body type (I’m a pear, but I also have a poochy belly and a Kardashian derriere and short legs) in the pages and on the covers of magazines. Why is that so difficult???

I get it, sex sells. Always has and probably always will. And apparently 20-year-old sex sells more than 40-year-old sex, but can’t we move beyond that even just a little bit? Is there any magazine out there that will say “Yes, Human Woman, you are beautiful just as you are – and worthy of gracing the cover of our magazine!” (If such a magazine exists, call me! I’m totally available for a photo shoot.)

Anyway, I’m all for plus size modeling and I’m excited that the media is finally getting on board with it. Now let’s just keep the magazines evolving and seeing plus size women, and women in general, as more than just sex objects. We’ve come a long way, but we’re far from finished.


3 thoughts on “Plus Size Models: Is this the only way they’re acceptable?

  1. While we’re at it, a size 14/16 is more normal to me while a plus size would be over 20. A 2-8 is more aneroxic if you want to be realistic!

  2. I completely agree and all the plus sized models are just larger versions of the skinny ones, they all have a great waistline. Show me one with a little bit of a gut and who is apple shaped because to me that is plus sized.

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