The Myth of the Plus-Sized Model

curvy0The average height for a female model is between 5’8 and 5’11.  The average weight is around 120 pounds.  The issue with this?  The average height for a woman is somewhere around 5’4, whilst doctors consider 135 pounds, give or take, to be a healthy weight for a woman who stands around 5’4.  For a woman who stands 5’11, a healthy weight would be around 160 pounds, 40 pounds heavier than the typical runway model.  The problems this creates are obvious.  Not only do people develop unrealistic expectations of the body, but they also develop a skewed perspective.  Now, there are women who are healthy at 5’11 and 120 pounds, just as there are women who are healthy at 5’2 and 160 pounds.  Every body is different.  The problem though is the terminology being employed to describe women.

Throughout the 1940’s and through to the 1960’s, it was not uncommon to see curvaceous women modelling clothes.  Marilyn Monroe was considered perhaps the greatest sex symbol of her era.  Her figure was far more realistic than that of a typical runway model.  At 5’5 and ranging anywhere from 120-140 pounds, Monroe would have struggled to get access to a runway today, just as we see models like Kate Upton get rejected by high-fashion magazines because of her curvaceous figure.  The pin-up models of the post-WWII era shared similar features, but this too was a problem.  It also created unrealistic expectations.  These women were very busty and wide hipped.  Many women, who were thinner or more petite, had no way of achieving the standard of beauty embraced in the era.  They could not make their breasts bigger or their hips wider and so found themselves outside of the scope of what was projected as beautiful.

There was a shift somewhere along the line.  Models like Twiggy became not only popular, but the standard.  Throughout the 80’s and 90’s the anorexic look became standard.  Stories of models starving themselves are not uncommon and few models with healthy figures were able to make a name for themselves, though exceptions were made for women like Tyra Banks who, though more curvaceous than most runway models, is still extremely slim and tall compared to the mean.  Recently there has been an influx in what the industry refers to as ‘plus-sized models’.  Crystal Renn, for example, wrote an autobiography about her experiences breaking into the modelling industry and the unreal expectations that she had to meet and the subsequent eating disorders she endured.  Renn eventually developed a healthier figure (meaning she put on some weight) and struggled to find work but was eventually accepted by the industry.  Since publishing her autobiography, Renn has lost considerable weight, but this should be seen as neither a loss nor a victory.  If the weight she is at is one she is comfortable and happy with, then it should be one that others should accept.

Nadia Aboulhosn (left); Fluvia Lacerda (right).

Nadia Aboulhosn (left); Elly Mayday (center);  Fluvia Lacerda (right).


The issue is that models like Tara Lynn, Cortney Maylee Christina Mendez, Ashely Graham or Canadian model Elly Mayday, are not what would be called ‘plus-sized’ by normal standards.  They are, for the most part, models who are of average size or even leaner then many women.  Models such as: Jada Sezer, Teer Wayde, Jolee Blon‘, Gigi Marie, Georgina Horne, or Allison McGevna, are women who are perhaps a little bustier than the average woman, but they are not ‘plus sized’; they are ‘regular sized’.  They are beautiful and no larger or smaller than the average woman.  They stand in sharp contrast to a runway model

because they are not as tall and are not as emaciated, but that does not make them ‘plus sized’.  In my mind, there is no reason to differentiate these models from other models.  To refer to a girl who is 5’4 as ‘plus sized’ when a model who is 5’11 is simply called a model is mindboggling, considering the fact that the latter is 7 inches taller than the average woman.  To call a model who weighs 140 pounds ‘plus sized’ when that is below the average weight of a woman seems absurd.  The terminology we employ for models is skewed and warped based on unrealistic expectation created by the fashion industry.  We need to embrace different kinds of beauty without feeling the need to put labels on them.  There are tall lean women who are as beautiful as short petite women who are as beautiful as curvaceous women or full-figured women.  There are women with pale skin who are just as beautiful as women with tanned skin or dark skin.  There are women with red hair who are just as beautiful as women with dark hair or blonde hair.  We wouldn’t think of labeling a model based on her hair colour or skin colour, so why label her based on her height or her weight?  Can’t we just all agree to drop the ‘plus sized’ label and simply call a model a model and recognize that there are all kinds of beautiful?


Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.


  1. Desiree says:

    Could not have said this better myself! Quit with the labels. They are all just beautiful regardless of shape or size. They all ought to just be referred to as model.

  2. Id take a PLUS SIZE WOMAN over a skinny woman any day plus size women r so much sexyer than skinny women

  3. I’m a fashion industry student, and am “plus sized” myself.

    I’d like to point out that there is a reason for plus sized to be called such, its because the “base size” that we work from for pattern making, toiling and sampling, is labeled as a size 10, anything above a ten is a plus size. To make matters even more confusing, when the garment is labled to be sold, it is then usually given a “vanity” label, of size 8.

    I have a lot of issues with this system. Not only is the block we use labeled size 10, but it is also only a b cup, meaning that when patterns are graded up in size, the cup remains at a b, which is ridiculous.

    On a personal level, I hate the fashion industry, because it only caters to small people. Even models (the skinny ones) have trouble with clothes fitting right. As I’ve mentioned, I’m a plus size, but I am also model height, and find that everything is too short, most “mini-dresses” are too short, meaning they’re only tops on me, long sleeve tops are usually only 3/4 length on me, and “full-length” leggings rarely reach my ankles.

    I would much rather see size 12-14 women, of model height, as the standard for models. Women who have curve, who don’t have “thigh-gap” (the trend for that among teens being another issue entirely), women who represent more of the population, and a healthier body image.

    The point (of this rant?) I’m trying to make is that a plus size is not a bad thing, its just bigger than the base size that pattern makers work from. Using a small size for patterns and toiles means we waste less paper and calico, once its been perfected, it can be graded up to other sizes. And the reason smaller sized models are used, is because that is the size sample garments are generally made in. I hate the system, but I understand it.

    And before anyone gets confused, I’m Australian, thus, I’m talking in Australian sizing.

  4. To Greg says:

    There we go … Did you not read the article
    You make skinny woman feel bad
    Then they will make bigger woman feel bad
    A never ending cycle
    That must be stopped
    Because of people like you , it can’t …
    All woman are beautiful, get it ?
    Keep your opinions to yourself unless there constructive

  5. Thanks for including me among the hotshots <3

  6. Rambler Rambler says:
  7. Rambler Rambler says:

    To Georgina, you are very welcome. I was more than happy to share one of your images. There is no woman on the planet whose beauty exceeds your own.

  8. The girl in bra and panties, sitting on the green window with a tattoo on his left arm, it is not Jada Sezer, but Vanessa Marino Rox! (search for it in Google or in Ciao, 🙂

  9. Rambler Rambler says:

    The correction has been made Andrea. Thank you 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for including me in this wonderful article. I truly appreciate the love & support for us “regular sized” girls out there! I do battle often with being labeled plus size or in between straight & plus sized and never having true area that I fit in due to my size & height (38.5/30/43.5 at 5’5″) Also, thank you to for shooting the photo of me that you shared!
    xoxox, GiGi Marie

  11. Did this provide the obviously needed help to get an obtainable girl to sleep with you?

  12. To G: I see you did not include your name with this comment. That is because you are a coward who needs to hide behind the ambiguity of the internet in order to spew your hateful words. As to your question, I will not even justify it with an answer, but I will offer you this advice: Seek professional help, because you desperately need it. You have obviously been warped at some point and have a twisted view of the world. In closing, I’d like to ask you: What do you get out of comments like that? Does it improve your life some how? Is your life so pathetic that saying hurtful words to people you don’t know whilst hiding behind the ambiguity of the internet provides you with some sort of comfort? I hope the people you meet in life come to know the person you are inside so that you can experience true loneliness.

  13. Earlier this year I hired model for some figure work. She was 5’9″,130lbs, slender, very pretty, and great to work with. My late wife, however, was 5’0″, 125lbs, and curvy (when we married). At 5’8″ myself, I’d prefer my wife. I would like to see more plus-size models of any size. Give me the curves!

  14. LittleOleMe says:

    The “plus-sized” models are actually rather unrealistic too, for not many people over a size 8 or 10 have such great proportions (and sometimes many skinnier women do not even have great proportions). The bust-waist-hip ratio, the classic hour-glass shape is what appeals to people. Being a former anorexic/bulimic, I’ve assessed my own figure (not an hourglass or even a “pear”, merely a ruler-shape). It probably also helps that they wear corsets, push-up bras, etc. to accentuate the figure. Maybe if all women accepted their supposed flaws, worked their strengths and down-played their flaws, we’d feel better too. I am glad that the fashion world is at least being more accepting of different sizes.

  15. i would think that definitely the runway models who appear to be flat chested and super skinny are not sexually appealing,but guess what some of the plus sizes shown here arent appealing either.i would say the combination of perky breasts,slim waistline,proportional buts and arms and legs,along with a pretty face ,gorgeous hair,and persona should be considered the ideal beauty.maybe this is not easy to find but its nt hard to at least try to get close to it.its better to at least get inspired with the right message than to stick to some sick and selfish philosophy which bashes skinny and praises plus size and vice versa.also the fashion industry has strict height requirements but nobody ever seem to raise a question on that?is it becoz its easy to find tall people in western countries???the fashion industry is suffering from moral issues and so are people who are only concerned about things that are challenging to them and not necessary something that might be challenging to others.wake up ppl and appreciate ppl for their integrity,character,and morality,instead of believing in false ideology of beauty

  16. Scott Kurz says:

    who are the three beauties at the very top of this page?


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