Are ‘plus sized’ models really ‘plus size’?

Having just presented a few ‘how to’ videos for clothing line La Redoute alongside stunning plus sized models, it got me thinking – Is a ‘plus sized’ model in the modelling world, really a ‘plus size’ in the real world?

It is definitely customary in the modelling world to use girls aged between 18-25, who are a minimum of 5ft 8” and a maximum of a size 8 or very small 10 at a push! Based on my experience, the countless jobs/agencies stipulating this, especially for catwalk shows is standard. But when you are over this size & are a healthy size 12 for example, in the modelling world, you are ‘unofficially’ classed as ‘plus sized’ –regardless of your flawless skin or striking looks. So how does this compare with the average Joe?

When you look at it – a UK sized 12 is someone like Christina Hendrix, Beyonce Knowles or the ever fluctuating Jessica Simpson. But with six out of ten British Women thinking size 0 is an ideal look & the average British woman actually being a size 14 to 16, surely  being classed as ‘plus size’ can’t be good for the self esteem? And I wonder if the average British woman feels they should be classed as ‘plus size’ or if the fashion world’s terminology is unrealistic?

For an outsider who doesn’t know the modelling world, you may think there aren’t many jobs for the fuller figure model…but you’ll be wrong. Ok, you are unlikely to get work on the cover of Vogue or doing anything high end editorial, but commercially…there are plenty of opportunities, as advertising agencies need ‘real’ models that the audience can relate to in order to sell their product (like your typical yoghurt ads!). And its not impossible to see plus sized models walking in catwalk shows either, as Jean Paul Gaultier & John Galliano have both used plus sized models in their shows. So why are ‘normal’ sized models called ‘plus size’ in the industry or is this something that has evolved over the years?

It’s clear to say that the average size of models has changed, & I’m sure you have all read the countless articles of the worlds ever shrinking models, but I have to highlight that 20x yrs ago, Cindy Crawford was famous for modeling sized 10 clothes as this size was classed as the ‘norm’ back then. Yet nowadays, the ‘norm’ of your average model such as Filippa Hamilton  or Lily Cole is a UK size 4-6!

Now I get why agencies & designers use thin models, as it’s all about the garments hanging perfectly without any lumps, not the sexy voluptuous models wearing them.  But having worked with some plus size models, to me, they don’t ‘look’ plus size & I certainly don’t think they should be classed as such.  In my opinion, models with sizes between 12-16 should be classed as something new.
Perhaps Tyra Banks is onto something when she calls her plus sized models on America’s Next Top Model “Fiercely Real” as it may be time the modelling industry creates a category that represents the real world…….just a thought.


  1. “Are ‘plus sized’ models really ‘plus size’?
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  2. Agreed! A couple of weeks ago, this became a bit of an issue in Sweden when H&M launched their first ad with a so called “plus sized” model. People were surprised, ’cause she was just normal looking.

  3. Well said and I completely agree! I am a size 16 and its quite infuriating seeing smaller versions of models classed as plus sized.

  4. […] Are ‘plus sized’ models really ‘plus size’? […]

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