Last week Huffington Post blogger and plus-size stylist Chastity Garner Valentine posted a piece entitled, “Plus-Size Models: Why Are They Always Naked?” My immediate internal response was, “Oh Chastity, because they’re beautiful.” Then I read her piece, and well, my initial response still holds.
Ms. Chastity’s observation is that more often than not, the plus-size models who gain mass media coverage are those who pose naked for magazines or blogs or newspapers, etc. As a fashion lover, she says she wishes more plus-size models appeared in high-fashion apparel. While I agree with her and I would love to see Tara Lynn or Whitney Thompson rocking an Alexander McQueen dress, plus-size models don’t just do nudes. Just those two models alone have done a large amount of clothed shoots. And actually, I don’t think Whitney has ever done a nude besides her finale photo shoot for America’s Next Top Model. As for Tara Lynn, she is often styled in retro swimsuits or hip work apparel or sexy night wear (has anyone seen her French Elle shoot?).
Just because there have been a couple widely received and media-frenzy inducing nude photo shoots of plus-size models doesn’t mean this is all they do. And I for one am not remotely bothered by the fact that these nudes exist in the first place. These women are stunning, and not just in the face. Their bodies are jaw dropping,so why shouldn’t they be allowed to show them? No one would complain if Kate Moss or Ann Ward paraded their naked selves around, so why should it be any different for their voluptuous counterparts?
Chastity provided a few reasons as to why it might be more common for a photographer to shoot a plus-size model naked than he/she would a size 4 model: stylists don’t know where to find plus-size clothing, stylists don’t know how to style someone over a size 8 and magazines don’t really care about plus-size fashion, but simply want attention for photographing naked fat girls. Not only do I think this is a complete underestimate of stylists, but I also think it bashes the magazine industry as a whole. Though she does site Marie Claire and Plus Model Magazine as magazines that cater to the plus-size woman, these are definitely not the only two media outlets which do so. Elle, O Magazine, Vogue, iVillage and Seventeen have all done some form of plus-size fashion shoot, article or simply an inclusion of someone fat and fabulous. And to say stylists as a whole simply don’t know how to shoot plus-size models, well, is this really their fault? I totally acknowledge that the plus-size modeling world isn’t remotely as big as the multi-billion-dollar 0-6-based modeling industry, so obviously stylists are more used to handling mini models. I would never take this to mean NONE of them care about plus fashion; they simply don’t have the experience to be good at it.
While I admire Chastity for delving into the fact that yes, plus-size models are sometimes naked, they are definitely not always naked. Perhaps they become well known for a particular nude shoot, but if that’s what it takes to make it in the industry, I applaud them for their bravery and confidence. I’m certain that it is more difficult to make it as a 12+ model, and honestly, if you have to do a nude with frikin Vogue Italia to get your name out there, why not?