Unfashionable, Unpretty by Solveig Walkling

Courtesy of Kuva Photography

There’s a new kind of bitchiness on the block – between plus-size and straight-size models. And it ain’t pretty. See, bigger sized girls have been derided and “taken the mickey out of” in the fashion industry for so long and their target audience of larger (or even just normal sized) women have felt tricked by designers, photographers, and all those other ideal-woman-dream makers for so long, they seem to think it’s now payback time.

Finally, girls who aren’t stick thin are getting avant-garde magazine spreads, big name campaigns, and top level exposure – even on New York’s famous Times Square. The fashion industry – after decades of covering their ears and eyes – is ready to – perhaps not embrace – but listen to calls for a more realistic body image and diversity of shapes and sizes. Even governments worldwide are jumping on the positive body image bandwagon. Hurray! We’ve got ourselves a revolution! Long live the healthy body. The old ideal is dead.

But behind the scenes a not so fashionable attitude is emerging. Beautiful girls with a BMI in the healthy range are now considered too skinny by some. Perhaps buoyed by the recent success of plus-size girls around the world, a few of their biggest (pardon the pun) fans, supporters, and even some of the girls themselves are exhibiting what’s one of womankind’s most unattractive traits in my opinion: bitchiness.

They look at glowing, beautiful images of standard sized models and turn their nose up at them, snorting in derision. “Skinny cow,” they snigger. “If I only ate carrots I’d look like that too.” The underlying bitterness is understandable given they copped it for decades as the token “fat girl” on shoots and were showed in unfashionable tent-like outfits, but really, where is the sisterly attitude, girls? After all, the original call by women wasn’t for BIG girls only, e.g. only girls with a BMI at the top range or even beyond it to be shown in the media. We asked for a healthy body image; a diversity of body types, sizes and ages.

Looking at images of models like Elle Macpherson, Jessica Hart, or Sarah Murdoch, all I see is beauty, health, and a natural glow. (And that’s not just Photoshop.) Yes, they might be thinner than the average person. Good on them. Really, the average person is hardly what you’d like to aspire to – or see in magazines, at least all the time, right? Take that bitchy attitude a step further and next, we’ll be asking for only oversized and non-stunning girls to be used. Bring on the average Jane and Joe. C’mon! Don’t take that unpleasant attitude. Haven’t we got enough of that in reality TV shows already? People with no achievements and no ambitions – other than to make it onto TV?

Let’s face it: some of those skinnier models are naturally that body shape. They might work out more than you do or eat less or perhaps they’re even genetically blessed in that model like way, but if they’re happy in their bodies why cut them down? Can anybody else see a little bit of underlying jealousy there?

I’m not saying I’ve never gossiped or talked badly about fellow models. We all get caught up in the moment – especially if we’re having a bad day ourselves and the model in question is unpleasant to us or full of herself. But let’s celebrate each others’ successes and embrace diversity whenever we can. Be grateful that there’s a variety of body shapes out there for teenage girls to aspire too. Why limit it to big, skinny, or otherwise? Cut out the schoolyard bitching – wherever it may stem from, it’s very unpretty!

Australia has traditionally favored a slightly healthier and more toned modeling ideal. Here are pictures of few Aussie models I absolutely love the look of. Different sizes, ages, and shapes – in some of their happiest shots. Enjoy!

I love this shot of Jessica Hart from last year’s Seafolly campaign. Full of life, fun and absolutely stunning, if you ask me. Pic courtesy of www.pedestrian.tv

Sarah Murdoch, lovely inside and out as I had the pleasure of finding out during a shoot for Bonds last year, was beautifully captured by David Gubert in this spread for Australian Women’s Weekly. What’s best, no retouching. I found this picture on another great blog, Beautiful You by Julie.

Above a great shot of Australian supermodel Megan Gale who also shows a healthy body shape and, perhaps due to her size, became an overnight (bombshell) success in Italy where they love their women curvy – for a model. Pic courtesy of the Herald Sun.

About the Author ~ Solveig Walkling

Sol grew up in the back of an old Citroen travelling Europe and could say “hello” and “goodbye” in at least ten languages before she was even able to write her own name.

Luckily, she escaped being bargained for an undisclosed number of camels while travelling Turkey with her mother as a teenager or becoming a rugby player in the wonderfully quaint North of England; the freakishly tall blonde proceeded to study languages, nation studies, and journalism instead.

Work at a travel magazine was perhaps only a natural progression from there, but a combination of writing for the Australian Traveller magazine and overnight police rounds for The Sunday Telegraph instilled her with an unhealthy adrenalin addiction.

She has since left the safe surrounds of her desk behind to face off great whites, plunge down cliff-faces, hang onto the side of boats in gale force winds, and fly loops in ancient fighter planes.

Used to red-eye flights and working in several countries in a day without letting it affect an – albeit rather forced – perma-smile, the freelance model and journalist can now also be found on the other side of the camera.

Toting a battered Canon 40D, notepad, and pencil, she will travel to any location anytime at the drop of a pen.

You can find out more about Sol at www.bodymindsol.com. For Sol’s portfolio or blogging about body image and modeling, check out www.solwalkling.com. You can also join Sol at Body, Mind & Sol and Face book or on Twitter @bodymindsol.

*Thank you, Sol!

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5 Responses to “Unfashionable, Unpretty by Solveig Walkling”

  1. I love to model and i addm doing this for my family and my mother and my 3 daughters know i what to be model and that me and i what this and i need this and jesue is going to help me out?

  2. “Yes, they might be thinner than the average person. Good on them.”

    See this quote demonstrates the real issue. You said good on them, as if it’s better to be thin. that’s GOOD.

    The point is thin or fat or short or tall or whatever in between isn’t GOOD or BAD it just IS.

    Until it’s “just another body shape” thin is always said to be GOOD – it’s all the same bullshit.

    • solwalkling Says:

      Hi Susan. Thank you for your comment. I meant “good on them” as in well, “good for them” – but not that it really matters. Reading in back now I do realise it can be misunderstood the way you read it. That was not my intention. I believe that it is best to be a healthy size for your body and feel good in your body rather than be a certain clothing size or shape.

      I would also say good on the plus size girls for finally getting their pics published. And for anyone who is comfortable and happy in their own body!

      Thank you! And sorry for any confusion caused!

      Sol

  3. robyn lawley Says:

    Sol definitely has a point, My older sister is naturally skinny and she unfortunately gets picked on for that, even though she is a stunner. I always think you should not fight your body type but embrace the type in which you have and eat and exercise at a healthy level. The reason why there is this big backlash is because the so called “skinny models” are getting skinnier and the “plus size models” are getting bigger, the industry keeps on missing the medium ie just a normal healthy size. I have model friends who are variable in sizes and I adore them all, I just don’t like it when the industry makes a girl so young do terrible things to her body to fit a sample size (be that plus or straight size).
    However saying all this plus size models still aren’t at equal heights far below in fact, in the entire fashion week circuit, models above a size 4 were only used in about 3-4shows we were sparse, there is still a upturned nose pointed in our direction by many designers and that is probably why women of larger sizes feel this outrage, hell I feel it.
    But I believe in diversity, that is something all designers should feature, tall, short, dark, white, big small, young and old women of all variables should be featured, and yes women who are not models should also be used, we after all are not all 6ft ethereal creatures.

    • solwalkling Says:

      Hey Robyn!

      Thanks for the wonderful comment! I couldn’t agree more – in an ideal world, we want as much diversity as possible.

      I can also understand how some designers might prefer skinnier shapes as their ideal of beauty – after all it’s all subjective -and some customers might feel patronised, tricked or even offended by straight size or in between girls selling plus size clothes by the same token.

      Of course, the upturned nose of traditional fashion types is still there – similar to how there are still chauvinist men – at the same time we now also have bitchy plus girls – similar to overzealous feminists -… You can see where I’m going with this? I think the answer is yes, diversity, but as a society as a whole to have an emphasis on the in between, the healthiest weight range – and yes, I do realise that can vary and we cannot realistically introduce BMI or fat mass indices or the like.

      t’s really about applying common sense. Offer diversity and happy gorgeous women of all sizes, shapes and ages for girls and women to see clothes modelled on and try to push an overall healthy ideal where possible. And that I think should be in the in between. Similar to how the ideal women – when you layer images of women over each other and find the perfect “Eve” (As they did in a study ages ago, is right in the middle and would be neither skinny nor plus. And, as we know, beautiful women aren’t just that average Eve, they are made more beautiful by their quirks and things that set them apart. That could be the differnces in age, size, height etc…

      I hope you’re well Robyn! You’ve certainly taken a bit bite out of the Big Apple! 🙂

      Sol xx

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