Plus size models


A while ago there was a lot of talk about so called plus size models. In fashion terms those models would be called: fat. Now fat is a relative term, lots of people find themsleves to be fat while they are not, at least not technically. They percieve themselves as being fat (I’m one of them) even when their Body Mass Index is well within healthy range.

But your BMI being in the healthy range automatically disqualifies you as a fashion model. Especially a run way model. All the couture shown during fashion shows is made in one size, and one size only. So all the girls, and a few women, need to have the same size. Can’t imagine a couture designer to make anything is all different sizes. It would be a logistical nightmare getting the correct sized girl for that particular dress and a different sized girl for that other dress and so on. (Technically dresses are worn by a particular model, and they are made to fit that model precisely, but these alterations are nothing like taking in a hem for someone who is two sizes smaller than the intended model, if you get what I mean).

Same thing goes for photography models. The stylist gets the clothes straight from the factory or designer and they come only in a small range of sizes. Remember the shoots need to be published before the actual season starts so not a lot of sizes would be available. And again the model should be interchangable to a degree as logistics may change, model may fall ill, etc.

But generally photography models don’t need to be size zero, I’m pretty sure a size one wouuld be fine too.

A lot of critisism went out to the judges in real life tv shows where hopeful young girls aspire to be models, and compete in all sorts of assignments. In my country one judge was almost skinned alive in the papers after calling a pretty skinny girl fat. She may not have been clinically fat, but for a would be model she probably was. Outcry about the damage such comments would do to such a young girl who wasn’t fat to begin with.

Well, the girl wants to be a model, to be a model one of the things you need to be is super thin. Whether that is too thin I leave up to you. So when you don’t fit the physical requirements don’t go blame some judge who merely pointed out a fact.

Then some magazines aimed at women decided that they had seen enough of the super skinny models. They wanted more life-like models in their publications. Normal people.

I’m sure that by now you also know that every single image that is ever published has been altered. Even the images that you used to get back from the processing plant in the days everybody still used film, were altered. Not in a big way, only to make the colours look more like the real thing, colour correction. Of course you can use colour correction to make a scene look more dramatic, but is that a bad thing?

Right, back to the magazines. The women and girls (and guys, mind you!) in all the magazine shoots have been altered. Just a few common alterations: bigger pupils, higher cheekbones, fuller hair, bluer eyes, smaller hips, longer legs and last but not least bigger breasts. All these things, and more, are done after the shoot. This is why photography models can be a bit fatter than run way models, because they get altered in postproduction. But there’s only so much you can do, so you still have to be pretty thin to begin with.

This practise results in physiques that are impossible to attain, but nonetheless we all get influenced by those images of super beautiful (constructed) people. And because we see so many of them we start to believe that this is what ‘normal’ (albeit beautiful) people look like. And this was of course what the editors of those magazines wanted to do, they wanted normal people in the photos so the readers would feel like they were normal too and that their readers wouldn’t starve themselves to look at least somewhat like the models in the magazine. These editors wanted to create attainable rolemodels. A noble cause to be sure.

I think perhaps one magazine published one issue with normal people as models. Don’t ask me why they stopped but I guess that when you are any bit like me and you buy a magazine for your entertainment, you don’t want to be faced with normal people. Also normal people don’t have a clue what it’s like to do a fashion shoot, and they all look so, well, normal. And generally model agencies don’t do normal people.

When I buy a magazine I want to see super beautiful people, I’m paying good money for a fantasy. If I want to see normal people I only have to step out the door and I am surrounded by normal people.

And you know what? Most of them are FAT.

The photo above of is an image of Grace Jones, by Jean-Paul Goude. It was first published in New-York Magazine in 1978 and hardly anyone at the time knew this image was not an actual photo but a photo collage. This image is a nice example of an impossible physique. Nothing in this image is real…

Below you can see how the iconic image of Grace Jones was constructed, not using photoshop or any other digital media as they weren’t available at the time, all by hand (Photoshop was introduced in February 1990).

Click on image for more information


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