Should men’s clothing be modeled by men? Should kids clothes be modeled by kids? The answer is- of course they should! What then is the distinction between a man’s or a child’s clothes and those worn by larger women? Women who are a size 2-8 see their clothes modeled by women of their own size, which provides them with a realistic expectation of what the clothes look like, how they hang or flow or hug the body, and how they will wear overall.
Why should this be any different for women who happen to be of a size that they have been designated “plus size”?
Consider this, plus size women are doctors, nurses, professionals, teachers, architects, municipal workers, and participate in just about every other job field in existence. They go to grocery stores, concerts, movies, and parties. They have kids, they have friends, and they have family. Why then, do they not have a right to see how their clothes will look on someone their own size when that person is performing these same activities?
How can a professional woman who wears a size 18 know that the clothes she is buying will be of a cut and fit appropriate to her workplace if she can’t see those clothes on someone who looks and moves like her? The reality is, she can’t. She can try them on in a cramped, stuffy fitting room and if she’s brave enough, she can step out of that room to check it out in the mirror. What she can’t do is walk through the store with them on, pick up or play with her kids, or bend and stretch and do all of the other things she does every day.
Many would argue that models of clothing are attractive, fit, and active because that is what consumers want to see. Others would say that if “plus size” women want to see themselves in clothing ads, they should lose weight and conform to the expected standards for modeling. Some would even go so far as to say that “plus size” women don’t deserve to see women of their own size in ads because they are somehow to blame for being whatever size they are. How does this make sense? How does one explain this to the woman who has spent 20 years trying to lose weight, has had gastric bypass and other painful surgeries, and who has generally made herself miserable by being so obsessed about her weight and degree of fitness? Yes, there are some women who are overweight because they just don’t have the self-discipline to attain and maintain a slim body. There are also a number of women who have tried, repeatedly, to conform to the media’s expectations of what is attractive, but who, because of biology, genetics, health conditions, etc. have not been able to lose the weight they want. By not showing “plus size” models who are happy and secure and living a full life, these women receive messages and reinforcement every day that there is something wrong with them, that they are less than desirable, and that they don’t deserve to be admired and respected.
Finally, who exactly makes the designation of just what constitutes “plus size” clothing? What is the specific system of measurement, the criteria, or the test that determines what is regular clothing and what is “plus size”? Exactly what constitutes an acceptable frame, weight, or size that can be modeled? The Barbie-doll perception of womanhood and femininity is still very alive and well. It’s time to re-evaluate what “healthy” is and display it accordingly in print and video advertisements.