If you want to be a model these days, you’re going to have to put on a few more pounds. Oh, but only in the right areas or you won’t get hired at all.
In the plus size modeling industry, designers hire the “smaller” plus sized women and then “fatten” them up with conveniently placed body pads to create the “perfect” plus sized woman.
In the modeling industry, women work tirelessly to keep their slim and fit figures, always ready for an impromptu photo shoot for a magazine or catalog. Some models have it easy and are naturally skinny. When it comes to plus size modeling, it turns out that the models you see in the plus size section also have secrets to that perfect body.
Foam pads? Why is that necessary? One may wonder. A size 16 dress should fit a size 16 model. Now, no dress can be perfect, that’s why we hire tailors, but not in this case. Several plus size models are actually size 12s (which is still considered plus size in the fashion industry) and stuffed to the seams of their Spanx with foam pads to fit into the size 16 dress.
While the advertiser and seller want to show off their new dress, they want the curves of the larger woman, but with the slimmer face. In the last few years, many photographers have steered away from photoshopping their models, but now a new kind of editing is taking place. Instead of slimming the “imperfect” model, they’re adding padding to make the perfect plus size model.
Some people say this isn’t such a big deal. Clothespins are used in photoshoots all the time to create the perfect silhouette.
Sure. But the model already had the perfect silhouette. Now we’re creating a completely different, unrealistic silhouette that very few plus size women actually have. This makes online shopping even harder for these women because they’re not seeing their own shape (or any realistic shape, for that matter) reflected on the computer screen. What do these dresses look like on actual size 18, lumpy, fat bodies (I reserve the right to use this term because I own one)?
Sabina Karlsson is a 24 year old model in New York. She is a size 12 and a plus size model. According to a post by Refinery29, she takes her fat pads with her to every photo shoot and every other place has her use them.
For lots of plus size models, the fact that they have to add to their original body frustrates them.
“I would prefer us to not have to wear pads,” Sabina said in an interview with Refinery29. “When I was straight-sized, I wasn’t skinny enough, and now I’m plus-sized, and I’m not curvy enough. It would be nice to be like: I’m this model, and this is me. For society to know that curvy models don’t have the same sizes…you can be curvy and a size 12.”
When Sabina was younger, she was a straight-sized model and even walked New York Fashion week as one. As her body changed as she got older, she struggled to stay skinny and even tried working out three times a day before she finally gave up modeling straight sizes and accepted that her body was simply not meant to be a size 2.
You can read more about Sabina and other plus size models in this Refinery29 article.
A size 16, 18, or even 26 is nothing to be ashamed of. The fashion industry is learning, but it’s a slow process. Will we ever see a size 18 modeling their own dress? We can hope, but as for right now it seems that we live in a Kim Kardasian-esque world. Unrealistically flat, but curvy, whether by plastic or by foam.