A US magazine has claimed that the BMI of most models is the same as that of anorexics. It asserts that most women are far larger and that clothing manufacturers and fashion houses need to better cater to plus-sized women.
A magazine dedicated to plus-size fashion and models has sparked controversy with a feature claiming that most runway models meet the Body Mass Index criteria for anorexia. Accompanied by a bold shoot that sees a nude plus-size model posing alongside a skinny ‘straight-size’ model, Plus Model Magazine says it aims to encourage plus-size consumers to pressure retailers to better cater to them, and stop promoting a skinny ideal. US Size 12 (that’s a South African size 14) model Katya Zharkova, 28, stars in the shoot, which has a powerful statistic accompanying each image.
One, printed alongside a photo of the Russian beauty holding a tape measure across her rear, reads: ‘Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less.’ Another states: ‘Ten years ago plus-size models averaged between size 12 [SA size 14] and 18 [SA size 20]. Today the need for size diversity within the plus-size modeling industry continues to be questioned. The majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 [SA size 8] and 14 [SA size 16], while the customers continue to express their dissatisfaction.’
And finally, further highlighting how poorly the fashion world caters to plus-size women, the magazine tells us: ‘50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.’ In an accompanying editorial, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Madeline Figueroa-Jones, explains that the feature is a response to a fashion and beauty industry which continues to endorse a skinny ideal that is not always healthy and alienates a huge percentage of the market.
She writes: ‘We are bombarded with weight-loss ads every single day, multiple times a day because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the fear of being fat. Not everyone is meant to be skinny, our bodies are beautiful and we are not talking about health here because not every skinny person is healthy.’
Ms Figueroa-Jones says consumers can no longer identify with models; the disparity between real woman and those that grace ad campaigns and the covers of magazines is too wide now. Small women cannot be marketed to with pictures of plus-size women, why are we expected to respond to pictures of small size 6 and 8 women?’ she asks.
The Plus Model Magazine feature has generated a mixed response from its readers though. While some have praised the statements the shoot makes, others believe that positively endorsing a fuller figure is as dangerous as advocating a skinny one. We are all for feeling good about ourselves and accepting ourselves (and others) the way we are, but do remember that if your waist circumference is:
• 94–102cm, your cardiovascular risk increases 1.5 to 2 times.
• more than 102cm, your cardiovascular risk increases 4.6 times.
• 80–88cm, your cardiovascular risk increases 1.5 to 2 times.
• more than 88cm, your cardiovascular risk increases 2.6 times.
Written by Tamara Abraham, this article originally appeared in the Daily Mail