"Plus-Size" Models: Empowering or Not?

According to the CDC, the average American woman is a size 14. And yet, the media was buzzing when Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (*eye roll*) featured it first plus-size model at a size 16, Ashley Graham.  

Now, certainly this is a positive step forward in the representation of women in the media. However, there is a problem with using the term plus-size. What does it the term plus-size even mean? In fashion industry, plus-size is a term for models who are size 6 and up.  They are plus-size but based on an arbitrary figure. For instance, one model, Madeline Hill, at a mere size 6 was transitioned into plus-size modeling. (Here's Madeline Hill’s story of making the transition to plus-sizemodeling at a size 6

But most people never consider a size 6 as a plus-size.  Especially when the average American woman is a size 14. Furthermore, the ad featured in Sports Illustrated seems to suggest that plus-size is attractive as long as women emphasize their “curves”—hips and boobs—and for the purpose of gaining a man’s sexual attention.

Now, another plus-size model, Tess Holliday, at a size 22, received some attention (not nearly as much as Ashley Graham) after being signed to London-based MiLK Model Management. She actually got more press for effyourbeautystandards, an Instagram account for women to celebrate their bodies and unique looks.

Do you think that it is good that media is choosing to use plus-size models? Are plus-size models empowering women or just setting another impossible body ideal for women?

- Written by Angela Barney 

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