Plus-sized models are making us "fat". Discuss.


At this week’s plus-size ‘Big is Beautiful’ runway show for Fashion Festival Sydney, women of all shapes and sizes appeared on the catwalk to show off Myer’s collection – and it caused quite the stir, especially when The Australian‘s fashion editor, Damian Woolnough, published his thoughts on the show in  The Australian yesterday:

BIG can be beautiful but fat should not be in fashion.

Damian Woolnough

The models were gorgeous, the clothes were unremarkable and the message about health was dangerous. Professional models, including plus-size pin-up Robyn Lawley, strutted and pouted alongside 10 winners of a competition run by Myer and The Australian Women’s Weekly. Most of the models looked healthy but some looked obese. While most fashion festivals ban models for being too skinny, why is it OK to see fat women on the runway?

There is a place for women of all sizes in the fashion media, as seen by the positive response to a plus-size shoot with Lawley in this month’s Vogue Australia, but obese models send just as irresponsible a message about the need for healthy eating and exercise as models with protruding clavicles and ribcages.

You can read the full article here.

Damian’s been slammed by many – including Georgie Safe, who wrote for the SMH today:

While Myer deserves plaudits for catering to women who wear sizes 16-24, fashion shows are about aspiration and there was little to excite on the runway, whatever your size.

The same went for several of the models. While there were some pretty faces, others were wanting. Granted, some of them were regular citizens rather than professional clotheshorses, but this still defeats the purpose of inspiring consumers to buy the clothes. Plus-size shows and models should be judged by the same standards as any other fashion shows and models, as was observed by the director of plus-size agency Bella Model Management, Chelsea Bonner, who represents Lawley. ”Plus-size models have to be just as aspirational, just as tall and just as heart-breakingly beautiful as any other model,” Bonner says.

Robyn Lawley on the catwalk for Myer

But I disagree with Bonner on another point: while she applauded Fashion Festival Sydney for staging a plus-size show, she says true size equality would not occur until models beyond sample size were integrated into all runway shows. ”Just chuck one or two in each show; don’t make an issue of it, just do it,” she says.

Frankly, why should we? Standard-size models, like Olympic athletes, are a genetically gifted species. Most consumers understand they will never look like them. The simple fact is that clothes look better on beautiful, slender young women.

You can read the full article here.

We asked Megan Moir Pardy, columnist for Shop Til You Drop and designer of plus-size fashion label Damn You Alexis, for her take on the matter. She wrote…

Megan Moir Pardy

It always amazes me that journalists with very little medical training are willing to look at a woman and judge their health on what they see. “Thin” models promote anorexia, “fat” models promote obesity. We can’t win. It’s no surprise women have such issues with their bodies.

Personally I like to use size 14-16 models in my campaigns because that’s my aspirational ideal. However I have received a lot of criticism from customers who want to see clothes portrayed by women of their size. I think Myer are simply responding to this by using “real sizes” and “real women” in their show. Fashion Festival Sydney is a consumer show, not an industry one. It’s the perfect forum to show different body shapes. Who’s to say these women aren’t healthy just from judging their figure? Women are different sizes for vastly different reasons. What are they supposed to be naked? That would be confronting!

City Chic’s launch for the Megan Moir Pardy designed Damn You Alexis range

I’ve said it before and I’ll  say it again, I don’t buy the argument that featuring larger women or plus-size models in a positive way is a statement about health. It’s not. It’s an endorsement of diversity, an acknowledgement that no one particular size or shape of woman has a monopoly on being considered attractive or even ‘normal’.

Remember, you can tell very little about a model’s health from the outside.  Consider the slim, chain-smoking, binge-drinking, drug-taking, hard-partying Kate Moss. Is she a better ‘role’ model than Adele? Hell to the no.

And here’s a gallery of the ‘Big is Beautiful’ show…