6 is the new plus size - seriously?

The Globe and Mail

Screen grab from Plus Model Magazine

Do you wear a size 6 or larger? That puts you in the plus-size category – and that, according to a provocative feature in the January issue of Plus Model Magazine, highlights just how unrealistic today’s aspirational physical ideal has become.

Yes, we all know that runway models have become progressively thinner and vanity sizing is out of control, but it’s another thing to see the nude photo of size 14 model Katya Zharkova embracing a nude, so-called “straight-sized” model. The comparison is shocking, as is the caption: “Most runway models meet the body mass index physical criteria for anorexia.”

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Remember how appealing curvy – and healthy – past top models such as Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford appeared? Twenty years ago, according to Plus Model, the average fashion model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman; today she weighs 23 per cent less, a weight loss extreme enough to get someone into the finale of The Biggest Loser.

But the real losers aren’t today’s plus-sized models (God knows at least one of them will become Tyra Banks’s token sacrificial lamb on the next instalment of America’s Next Top Model), but women with real bodies who have real challenges finding stylish clothes to wear.

Plus Model’s editor, Madeline Figueroa Jones, published the photos to inspire readers to demand more from designers, retailers and the fashion press. “Use social networking sites and e-mail to let brands and designers know how you feel about clothing, options and the use of straight-sized models (thin models) to market to you,” she wrote in a blog post that inspired a flurry of responses. “If we continue to ignore and rely on others to decide what we want to see, change will never happen.”

Do you feel like most fashion marketing is unrealistic? Do mainstream models reflect your body weight ideal?

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