Letter from the editor: Plus-sized means normal

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Letter from the editor: Plus-sized means normal

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Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition model announcement was made on Feb. 5 and it made national news not because it’s a highly anticipated edition but because the first “plus-sized” model made the cut. As a woman I highly respect models, especially ones who have the confidence to model in a swimsuit.


I’m no expert on the modeling or fashion world but I know that there has to be some sort of constant critique that comes with that line of work whether it is from professionals or not. But I have even more respect for Robin Lawley, who has been put in the limelight because of her size, a U.S. size 12.


The average American woman is a size 14, so the thing that’s baffling me is why the plussize label is even being placed on these women who represent the average woman across America. It seems to me like these women are the ones who young teenagers should strive to look like since they aim to look like celebrities and models anyway, and because quite frankly these models are the definition of a normal body type. For Lawley in particular, it’s more than just a body type or being labeled a plus-sized model. It’s about helping other women.


She said in an interview with Time, “I don’t know if I consider myself as a plus-size model or not. I just consider myself a model because I’m trying to help women in general accept their bodies.”


The argument that comes with this is the photo manipulation of the images. Yes, there’s the common knowledge that all models are heavily photoshopped. There’s a stigma that’s come with the modeling world, but the truth of the matter is we eat it up. Women look at these models and see flawless skin and remarkably white teeth. They see perfection. But bringing a model who is close to the average American woman size to the forefront of Sports Illustrated is a major step in the right direction and it’s one that many companies have been taking. Dove, for instance, has had major success with its Real Beauty campaign.


We are a society that is driven by the media and the media have finally taken notice that women want to be portrayed differently. They want to be seen as having beautiful bodies and being successful whether that is in the career field, in motherhood or anything else. There’s more of a focus on self-confidence rather than perfection and that’s what younger generations need to see. They need to see that women of all ages, sizes and skin colors are beautiful, confident and successful and Lawley is making headway. In the swimsuit edition she’s modeling a swimsuit from her very own clothing line. And this isn’t the only instance that she’s been successful. She’s claimed the title of first plus-sized model to take the front cover of Madison, an Australian fashion magazine, and according to Lawley’s website, the first plus-size model to appear in an editorial specifically produced for Vogue Australia in the magazine’s 52-year history.


There’s hope for women when a model who has a normal body type makes a major publication. Instead of focusing on her size ,I think the important issue here is what we are showing younger generations. Normal body types are beautiful. My hope is that people will demand to see more “plus-sized” models and will appreciate the beauty of all body types instead of focusing on a disillusioned idea of what a woman should look like.


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