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In the fashion industry, “plus size” is a term for models who are size 8 and up. But in the real world, most people would never think of a size 8 as plus size — most plus-size clothing doesn’t even start until a size 16.
Robyn Lawley (see left), a currently categorized “plus-size model” is well known for her voice regarding some of her issues with these discrepancies:
“In a world where you’re telling women that plus-size is sizes 4 and up, you’re causing body image issues. You’re causing unrealistic expectations that every one — every woman — should be a size 4. To bring that into the plus-size community, where you’re using sizes 8, 10 and 12, when sometimes the stores don’t even start carrying the clothes until size 14, you’re telling women, ‘You want to look like these models. This is what you should look like, but it’s never going to happen.’
In fact, not so long ago plus-size models were around size 10-12, but that number has recently shrunk to an 8. According to Anthony Higgins, the director at MSA Models, “[catalogs] will use a size 8 because they think size 14 and 16 will relate to that person and size 4 and size 6 will relate to that person. They do not use size 18 as much as they should for print – though… size 18 makes the most money.” The pathetic truth is plus-sized models’ bodies are headed in the opposite direction of actual plus-size women’s bodies.
According to the CDC, the average American woman is a size 14, and yet the dominant sizes in the industry are 0, 2, and 4. At size 8, the plus-size models are considerably smaller than the average American women, and if that isn’t indicative of how delusional we are about what the majority of woman’s bodies look like, I don’t know what is.
All that being said, in today’s world of fashion, I myself would be considered a Plus Size model. Many “plus-size” models are beautiful and healthy, and I’m so happy they have flourishing careers that perhaps felt impossible ten or fifteen years ago. Of course, we continue to see fashion predominately on thin bodies because we’re told that’s what sells. But the fact is, it’s just what we’ve been fed for so long that we don’t know what the alternative would look like. This could change, but the fashion industry would have to want it to.