Apparently, we don't actually want to see "real" models

Crystal Renn, one of the most prominent faces of the plus-size modeling industry (

New York’s Fashion Week 2010 saw designers sending a more diverse array of body types down the runway, and magazines such as Glamour and V Magazine are featuring curvier women in their glossy pages

However, a study by researchers at Arizona State University in the states, and Erasmus University and the University of Cologne in Europe, shows that real women might not actually want clothing marketed to them by… well, real women. It seems that ads featuring plus-size models have a more negative effect on self-esteem than ads filled with waif-like covergirls.

In the study, women with lower, average, and higher BMI‘s were exposed to ads featuring skinnier and heavier models. After seeing the heavier models, women with higher BMI’s tended to feel more poorly about themselves than after seeing the thinner ones, because they worried that they were overweight, and women with lower BMI’s worried about becoming overweight.

My first thought is that although it may be true that exposure to plus-size women may have a more immediate affect on women’s self-esteem, it has also been proven dozens of times over that the long-term effects of ultra-skinny models are equally, if not even more, detrimental to self-image, and we shouldn’t take that lightly.

My second thought is that I think magazines and runway shows making special “exhibits” out of normal-sized women, deemed “plus size,” does more harm than good in a way. The fashion world seems to either like putting its “perfect” girls in the spotlight, or going to the opposite extreme to showcase “big girls,” with no middle ground. Instead of making pointed celebrations of curvier, average-sized women, which I think draws more attention to the fact that curves are generally rejected as being fashionable, why can’t normal-sized women be included in fashion on a regular basis?

Or better yet, why can’t the focus be just on healthiness in general, regardless of size? Why not celebrate the people who, like my sister, are natural size 0’s without accusing them of having an eating disorder, and also the size 16’s, who are curvier yet still fit?

Apparently, we don't actually want to see "real" models

4 thoughts on “Apparently, we don't actually want to see "real" models

  1. Charissa Standage says:

    I completely agree with the idea of celebrating health rather than size. Size along with weight are such subjective numbers. I happen to wear one of the largest sizes that most stores carry in pants and I hardly think of myself as being overweight or fat. Sure I’m not as slim and trim as I could be, but I pride myself in my athletic ability. What’s ironic is that I have a harder time fitting into my pants after a week of working out. Muscles expand when they’re used, go figure!

    I also found it slightly odd that the picture of Crystal Renn has the caption that it does. I saw her and thought she was gorgeous and had a beautiful body and then found out she was a plus size model. Nothing about her (or at least in that picture) seems plus size to me. It makes me wonder, will “normal” ever be celebrated?

  2. admin says:

    You’re completely right about Crystal Renn’s size, Charissa. When I was searching for images to use in this post, I couldn’t find any of plus-size models who didn’t look simply… normal. I read somewhere that in the modeling industry, plus size starts at size 8 or 10. So sad.

  3. Elizabeth Sallie says:

    I completely agree! You heard my last rant on “plus size” modeling. And I’m sticking with it. But, I think that one of our goals should be helping people to see how they’re being brainwashed into believing that beauty is what the media says it is. How we explain this to people, I’ve yet to find out. But it just breaks my heart that we’ve allowed “beauty” to be defined by our culture to the extent that it is. And that our culture has such a screwed up view of beauty. Plus-size models are just another offshoot of the way that the world shows us how ridiculous today’s culture’s views of beauty are.

  4. Alisha says:

    It appears as if nothing will make the people happy but what else is new. They need to decide on what they want to see as far as models go and not complain when they get what they want.

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