beauty

Oh FFS. Plus-size models are wearing fat pads now.

Stop the world, we want to get off.

We’ve just learned that ‘plus-size’ models (not our term) are now wearing ‘fat pads’ to fit into clothes.

So it’s not enough that models are being airbrushed, photoshopped, reverse retouched, eat tissues to stay thin, and literally dying to fit into clothes we’re now strapping fat pads to curvy models?

Oh, FFS.

The padding practice is widespread and it’s happening because many ‘plus size’ models are not the size of the clothes they’re being paid to wear, but the size of the average Aussie woman, a size 14.

Because ‘plus size’ clothing ranges (locally) from a 16 to a size 28, clothing companies can save money by hiring just one model and pad her out to wear a variety of different sizes for a shoot.

So just when we thought the fashion industry was moving towards a more realistic body image representation, it’s beyond disappointing to realise that many of the images that we celebrated were artificially constructed.

In some small way, this is a relief. Previous to finding out about padding I thought that many curvy models had somehow magically skipped the cellulite gene. I admired their curvy and rounded hips and thighs, but now it appears I was admiring rounded pads which while adding bulk to their frames were also smoothing them over. Of course I expect some fashion trickery to be at play in any shoot, but I guess I imagined the quaint Ye Olde practice of pinning or bulldog clipping the clothing to fit for styling purposes rather than resizing models up two? three? four? sizes with pads.

We learned about padding via fashion website, Refinery29.com. The story profiled six models working in the plus size market. One of the models in the shoot, Sabina Karlsson says she’d prefer not to have to wear pads.

“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.”

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Image: Photographed by Kristiina Wilson; Modeled by Krista Cohen at JAG Models via Refinery29

Another model, Laura, has a different opinion: “There is definitely a plus-size ideal, which is why plus girls pad. But, [I] don’t think striving for that ideal by using pads has bad intent.”

“I don’t think it’s any more unrealistic than the normal retouching or the way that straight-size girls pad their bras. It’s part of the whole ideal that the fashion and modeling industry has put forth.”

Which is kinda sad, isn’t it? Because just as size 0, 00 and even 000’s are already unrealistic body ideals, we’re now doing the same on the other end of the size spectrum.

The plus-size fashion market is one of the fastest-growing and highest-selling clothing sectors, and they have the opportunity now to create and challenge the status quo, yet they’d rather follow the ideals set by the mainstream fashion industry.

In casting a model in the smallest possible size and bulking her up to fit the clothing, the brand is presenting a false picture to the customer who is trying to buy clothes to fit her frame. Sure, I understand the basic concept of aspiration in advertising, but if the padding process also used during the fit stage of manufacturing the clothes (it’s not common here in Australia) then it’s no wonder we have so much trouble finding clothes that fit.

Here’s a novel idea, how about companies just hire models who DO fit into larger sizes?

What do you think about padding? Is it good or bad for the fashion industry? 

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