Disproportionate concern for model size

By Sophia Coleman

The weight debate of plus-size models is again making headlines in the fashion world.

Australian model Robyn Lawley announced Sept. 19 on “Good Morning America” that she is the first plus-sized model to star in a campaign for high-end fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

Media outlets around the world are covering this story as if it were some phenomenon, which it sort of is, considering the brand was notorious for severely editing photos of already thin models. However, I find this amazement disheartening. Plus-size models have tried to make their presence mainstream ever since the fashion industry’s obsession with waif-thin types began. By blowing up this new development, we are not only making it apparent that plus-size models are still an anomaly, but we are also pushing labels.

I’d like to point out that Lawley hardly meets what is commonly thought of as plus-sized. She is extremely tall—6 feet 2 inches—so being a size 12 isn’t something to gawk at. She is undeniably gorgeous and has an incredible figure, yet the “GMA” reporter still had the nerve to ask her what her weight was, as if it would make a difference. Lawley politely deflected the comment and said, “Weight doesn’t really matter.”

I understand the majority of high-fashion designers prefer slender models to showcase their collections because their flat bodies resemble a clothes-hanger. I can’t argue that they definitely make the clothes look enviable. However, trends are always changing in fashion, and perhaps it’s time there is more than just “fat” and “thin” on the runway. Why not fill out the entire body spectrum, from petite to Amazonian and soft to athletic?

It would be nice if “plus-size” or “rail-thin” were terms not used at all in the modeling world, let alone elsewhere. But society has ingrained in us the habit of categorizing bodies into numbers and shapes so people can find clothing that fits. Because of this, size has become an out-of-control fixation, when simply being healthy should be the one standard that matters.

In addition to mass-media coverage are hundreds of “thinspiration” websites, and even worse, “fat-bashing” blogs that create a skinny vs. curvy war on the Internet. Not a day goes by where I don’t see snide comments or jabs on Facebook directed at one side or another. It sickens me that people feel the need to attack each other about something as sacred as our bodies.

I’m happy Lawley is now a model for Ralph Lauren because it will be another step closer to making size differentiations irrelevant. There is no right or wrong body type for the fashion world because the intricacies of every body cannot be categorized. It’s been said a million times, but has yet to stick: The best fashion statement is a sound mind and body.