WHAT IS PLUS SIZE? …AND DOES THE ANSWER REALLY MATTER?
This site features only models over a size 10. That’s size 10 in whatever the country where the model is mainly represented calls a size 10. It’s simply an arbitrary starting point; this size does not represent my personal feelings on where ‘larger’ or ‘plus size’ begins. However, it does mean that some models known as ‘plus sized’ will not appear after a certain point in their career, such as Crystal Renn and Sophie Dahl.
At the moment, models of a size 8 and up are called ‘plus size models’ by the fashion industry. Sometimes a 6 is included, but usually that’s by people who have very elitist ideas about models. While the first plus size-only model agency opened in 1977 (really!), “plus size” is a relatively new term to most people, and has received the most media and general public recognition in the last 10 years. However, this side of modelling still is not something that a lot of people can discuss without substantial disagreement, and there are a lot of people who stoke the fire with self-serving nonsense in order to get media attention, which doesn’t help matters.
Basically, the job that these models perform is the same as their peers, regardless of size, ethnicity or gender. They are hired to wear clothing for the purpose of helping it sell. The only thing that sets their work apart is that they are considered to specialize for clients offering larger sized clothing commonly described as ‘plus size’, hence the term ‘plus size model‘.
Logically, they should be called plus-size clothing models, in the same way that a teacher is not described by their body but by the subject or age level that they teach (i.e. art, elementary, yoga, etc), however that’s not a distinction many people perceive. Ultimately, any public conversation about what the models should be called or what size they should ideally be tends to devolve into a negativity around ‘acceptable’ body size that we can all do without, but it doesn’t stop people from talking about it as though it is critical that it be decided once and for all.
The majority of agency ‘plus size’ models range between size 8-14 in North America, between 12-16 in Australia, and between size 10-18 (EU40-48) in Europe and the UK, with height usually 5’8″/173cm or more. The trend of model agents at the moment is to sign ex-fashion models between 16-25 years old who have a womanly fullness at bust and hips, yet still retain their fine, overall bone structure. Having a visible collarbone, thin arms/thighs or a firm stomach doesn’t mean that a model ‘isn’t big enough’: in this realm of fashion everyone carries their weight differently, and the measurement range for the models is less restrictive than for the usual fashion and runway models anyway. That’s the joy of this part of the modelling industry. It is more accomodating of women’s bodies and their natural shifts in weight and shape, and the industry provides work for this variety of sizes. Plus size – to the fashion industry – is a collective description for models size 8 to size 14, and also to size 22; plus size is therefore not just one silhouette or set of measurements; it is many.
So why are we still arguing about this as though there is only one answer?? I don’t know about anyone else, but it is exhausting!
So – my way around all of this discussion is this: Only the models and their presence in the fashion industry is discussed on this website. How you describe yourself and your body, or the clothes you buy is entirely up to you. There is no obligation that you have to identify with terms such as ‘curvy’, ‘plus-size’, ‘full figured’ or any other description for being a larger size. I don’t list the model’s sizes for a few reasons. Firstly, when model sizes change (and they do!) the information becomes outdated. Second: If you see a model whose body shape is similar to yours, your perception is based on the image, not on the details, and that’s probably a healthier perspective to have. Besides, I’d be sourcing the numbers from agency websites, and frankly they aren’t always reliable.
The point of this site is not to define what is or isn’t plus size, it is only to provide an archive showing the progression of the work of larger models over the years. How you use the site is up to you. Take a look around, and decide for yourself whether dress size really matters when it comes to standards of beauty. After all, it doesn’t matter what you look at, it only matters what you see.