Archive for plus size

The Word “Plus-Size” ~ Guest Post by Autumn Whitefield-Madrano of The Beheld.

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by Liz

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano writes about how we form our concept of personal beauty, using essays, histories of words we use to describe women (like “plus-size”!), interviews, experiments, and analysis of economics, sociology, and media at The Beheld.

Here is Autumn…

We use the term “plus-size” so frequently now—plus-size clothes, plus-size stores, plus-size women, and, of course, plus-size models—that it’s hard to remember that not so long ago, we didn’t even have the vocabulary handy to discuss wearing anything larger than a size 12.

“Plus-size” was first used as a technical fashion industry term for sizes 14 and up in the 1970s; plus-size clothing existed before then, but was referred to as “stout sizes,” “larger sizes,” “junior plenty” for Lane Bryant teen sizes, or simply listed by number. The phrase quickly spilled from the fashion world into the modeling industry. As early as 1976, modeling agencies began signing “plus-size” models and calling them just that.

Still, it was an insider term, along the lines of “go-see” and “comp card”—recognizable to people within the fashion and modeling industries, but not to the people purchasing the clothes those models might be wearing. Consumers were referring to “women’s sizes” through the 1980s, and in fact the euphemism for larger clothing sizes still occasionally causes confusion when shopping at the handful of stores that still use the term. (Did clothing retailers only figure out in the past 10 years that a woman with 34-inch hips and a woman with 44-inch hips are both women?)

It wasn’t just consumers who were coming up with weird terms to describe ladies of size. Women’s magazines in the 1970s gave style advice to readers who were “chunky,” “bigger,” “broad,” “big-boned,” “heavier,” and “fat.” Even a lifestyle and fashion magazine devoted to plus-size women, Big Beautiful Woman, didn’t embrace the term until after its 1979 launch. By the 1980s the word choices had become a tad more complimentary: “round” and “full-figured” began cropping up, along with “curvy all over,” particularly a favorite in annual June swimsuit roundups.

In 1989—the earliest instance of mainstream usage I could find—New Woman called out to “plus-size” readers, with Ebony following suit in 1990. From there, the term truly took flight: Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and other major players started using the term in the 1990s. Unsurprising, given the enormous surge in awareness of the needs of 14-and-ups at that time: Pioneering plus-size model Emme was named one of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 1994 (and again in 1999!), Lane Bryant went full-on fashionista in 1995 with celebrity endorsements, and Mode magazine launched in 1997.

But some feel that the term might have done all it can. “ ‘Plus-size’ is a word we need to bury at this point,” Queen Latifah told WWD in May when talking about her fashion line, which has a wide range of sizes. “The truth is, we all would like to wear the same clothes. We all want to wear beautiful, fly clothes no matter what size you are.” (Sing it, sister!) Similarly, model Marquita Pring said in an interview this March with New York Magazine, “I think we need to phase out the category ‘plus-size models.’ I’m a model… People are finally starting to embrace us, and we aren’t just being seen for our tits and ass, but for our overall beauty and ability.”

There’s a power in naming a need that’s gone unfilled—like, say, a cute size 18 tank top!—and in relabeling terms that are rather unhelpful. (“Junior plenty”? Really?) As Gloria wrote in 1979 about the progress of feminism, “We have terms like sexual harassment and battered women. A few years ago, they were just called life.” Having the term “plus-size” out and about in the world makes it clear that women over a size 12 aren’t  going to quietly sit on the sidelines in navy blue smocks ever again.

Plus-Size Models Unite originally used the term “plus-size” because it made sense at the time of the site’s creation. But the work that is being done here is toward a recognition of all women, in all their diversity, as being whole and beautiful.” The concept of plus-size? Love. The word itself? Eventually, maybe, we can let it go. For wouldn’t it be nice if someday, plus-size clothes were just called clothes, plus-size models were just called models—and plus-size women were just called women, as empowered, confident, and beautiful as they feel?

*Thank you, Autumn!

You can find out more about Autumn Whitefield-Madrano at her website: The Beheld, Twitter at @the_beheld, and on Facebook here.

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Did Lizzie Miller Start a Body Image Revolution?

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Celebrity, Confidence, Designers, Events, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Models, News, Photographers, Plus-Size Modeling, Recipes & Food, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by Liz

Photographed by Seth Sabal

Lizzie Miller caused quite a stir while posing nude for the 2009 September issue of Glamour magazine. She has been referred to as “the woman on page 194.” When we first saw her image in Glamour magazine, our initial thoughts were “Finally! What a breath of fresh air.”

Finally, the time had come to see an image of someone that we could relate to. It took someone like Lizzie to start a wave, to start a crusade for women everywhere. There is more to Lizzie than being “the woman on page 194.” We hope this interview will help you see the true beauty that radiates from within her.

Glamour Magazine – Photographed by Patrick Shaw

Please tell us where you are from, and how you got started in the modeling business.

I’m from San Jose, CA. I got started with my modeling career by going to a Model Search that I had heard about on the on the radio. My mom was convinced it was a scam, so I paid for part of it. The model search was held at a huge hotel in San Francisco and had all sorts of agencies there. I was called back by a few of the agencies. Since I was only thirteen, my dad kept in contact with the few agencies who called me back (including Wilhelmina) and we made a trip out to NY the following summer. I signed with Wilhelmina then.

Please tell us about your experience regarding the September issue of Glamour magazine, which featured you nude along with an article about feeling comfortable in your own skin.

It was my first nude shoot, so before it, I was a little nervous. But it was weird, as soon as I was on set; I was comfortable and felt confident. I pleasantly surprised myself that day! I thought I would be nervous! But, I actually felt really good. Everyone was really professional and made me feel even more comfortable.

Photographed by Rafa Galler

What misconceptions do you think society has of plus-size women?

I think the biggest misconception is that all plus-size women are unhealthy and overweight — which is not true. I guess that brings up the question: What qualifies as “Plus Size.” I’m a size 12-14 and 5’11, and for my body, it’s a comfortable size. I’ve always been athletic and have never been a skinny girl. But, I enjoy working out, playing sports, and eating right. Now, if I’m craving some sweets, I do let myself indulge but, it’s all about checks and balances. Let yourself have a cookie–not five.

Most of the fellow plus-size models I work with are proportionate and in shape. Their bodies just happen to rest comfortably at a size 12 or above.

Have you ever struggled with self-esteem or body image issues in the past? If so, how did you reach the point of accepting and loving your body as it is?

I think every girl, at some point, has struggled with body image (including me)! It’s a huge problem and it’s not talked about enough. I use to be so self-conscious that I wouldn’t even change in from of my friends and family; I would run to the bathroom. But, being in this industry has made me feel comfortable with myself because you HAVE to be. It started with me changing in front of one stylist, then another, and another. They’re not even looking at me; they’re more focused on getting the clothes ready, etc. So once I realized that they’re not staring at me, I became more comfortable. After 8 years of changing in front of many different people, you get used to it.

Another trick I would try when I was younger was that I would wear my bikini around my house before going to the beach so I could get use to the feeling of showing that much skin. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become.

Photographed by Rafa Galler

What advice would you give to young women who are struggling with self-esteem, confidence, or body image?

Do not be so hard on yourself. If you slip up and eat a lot of cookies one day, just workout the next day. Stop comparing yourselves to other people. Everyone has a different body shape and some people are just naturally skinny. It’s exhausting trying to be really skinny when your body is athletic and curvy. It was so liberating for me when I finally accepted myself the way I am and stopped comparing myself to other girls.

Plus-Size Models Unite embraces women of every shape, size, ethnicity, and age, which includes women who are short, tall, plus, thin, and every woman in between. We applaud diversity and support women to find the inner strength to accept, respect, and embrace their uniquely beautiful self. We know you feel the same way. Please tell us your thoughts about promoting the fact that beauty comes in every size.

I’ve always said beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I think skinny girls have just as many self-confidence issues as curvy girls. It comes down to the mind. If you think you are beautiful then you will be because your confidence will exude through you. Everyone has a different body type and the most important thing is recognizing which shape YOU are. Not what the girls looks like in magazines and not like what the girls look like on TV. We all need to stop comparing ourselves to unrealistic expectations of Beauty.

Photographed by Rafa Galler

What does being healthy mean to you?

Being healthy means getting enough sleep, staying active, and eating healthy food. I go by the color rule. Always try to have some color on your plate (greens, colorful fruits, etc); most unhealthy things are a brown color (or fried). Find exercise that’s fun! If it’s fun, it won’t feel like working out. I love to dance, so I take any dance classes that sound interesting to me–as long as it has great music! Music is definitely important for working out. If you’re not a runner and want to become one, make an
awesome upbeat playlist and it will be more fun as well. (I don’t jog on the treadmill that much–I prefer dance classes, but when I do run, a really good playlist helps me!)

Out of all the places your modeling has taken you – where is the most memorable?

The most memorable place I’ve been is Barcelona, Spain. I’ve always wanted to go there and the shoot happened to fall on Valentine’s Day weekend. Since I travel so much for work, I had acquired A LOT of frequent flyer miles. So I used those miles to get my boyfriend a ticket to go with me. It was such a great weekend!

Photographed by Rafa Galler

Where do you like to shop for clothes and who are your favorite designers?

I shop all over. I really like Mystique Boutique; it’s a small store that has several locations in New York. I also like Zara, Arden B., H&M, and Urban Outfitters. Some of my favorite designers are Max Azria, Roberto Cavalli, and others.

What are some of your favorite beauty products or must-haves?

MoroccanOil deep conditioner. (http://www.moroccanoil.com/)

Please tell us about your singing career.

I’ve been singing ever since I could. I was always in school choir and musicals. I’ve been taking one-on-one voice lessons for two years now and piano lessons as well. I write lyrics and come up with melody to songs. I’m learning piano, so the writing music part became easier.  I’m currently working on my demo tape and getting my written lyrics out there for people to hear.

What are you excited about right now?

I am really excited about an upcoming shoot in London that I have for Spririto Catalog! I have never been there before, and I always love to visit places that I have never seen!

*Thank you, Lizzie!

Lizzie Miller has been with Wilhelmina on the Plus Size Board since she started modeling at age thirteen. She told us that she has two sisters and a supportive mom and dad.

What do you think about Lizzie’s Glamour magazine shoot? Do you think Lizzie Miller started a body image revolution? How do you feel about your body image? We would love to hear your thoughts!