What It’s Really Like To Be A Plus Size Model | sheerluxe.com
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From Ashley Graham to Tess Holliday, there’s a select few putting plus size modelling on the map. But when the former graced the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine last year, displaying her size 24 body in all its glory, she no less alienated half the British public than the straight models we’re used to seeing on billboards and monthlies.
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If you can’t relate to either Holliday or the conventional supermodel frame, you need curve model Lauren Frederick on your radar - part of a new breed represented by Milk Model Management, she’s the woman with hips, boobs and a bum booking major campaigns with Nike, Figleaves and more. We sat down with her to get her tips on body positivity, how to beat the online trolls, and why the word ‘plus size’ should be banned…

The Term Plus Size Can Be Harmful

“It doesn’t offend me, but I do take issue with the word ‘plus’. Plus what? First of all, the word curve model is more indicative of what we do, because actually a lot of the models in that camp are size 10 and 12. Plus, it’s just insulting to the general public; it’s like saying you can only fit into two camps, size 16 and upwards or conventional model thin. It’s like saying there’s an appropriate size, and then you’re plus that. It makes you an ‘other’.” 

It Took Me A Long Time To Feel Body Confident 

“I get a lot of compliments, but when you don’t feel good about yourself, it doesn’t matter how many people say nice things to you. You have to look at yourself and realise this is my problem, and why is that? Why is the fact I have cellulite a problem? At the end of the day, it just isn’t.” 

 

The Curve Model Industry Has Completely Transformed 

“In the past, as a curvy model, you would work for specific plus size brands, like Simply Be and Evans – that was about it. These days we’ll work for everyone, from beauty brands to straight size labels that may not even have a specified curve line – it’s become the same job. It’s also a cycle – because labels are more aware of us, there’s a pool of different faces, meaning there’s more representation across the board. Anybody who previously thought they couldn’t do it because they were a bit big on the hips now has the option.” 

Jakub Koziel

Curve And Straight Models Are Less And Less Segregated 

“When I first entered the industry, they were separate – clients and straight size models alike didn’t even know about curve agencies. Now a lot of traditional agencies have separate curve boards, but even better are those who integrate everyone together in one. It’s happened mainly over the past year – especially in America. It’s now more reflective of what the client’s looking for; so often when I speak to bookers these days it turns out the clients aren’t even specifying what size they want.” 

Internet Trolls Are Waiting To Take You Down 

“You could be doing the most positive thing in the world, but someone on Instagram is still going to be rude about it. I’ve been very lucky not to receive too much criticism, but I don’t have a huge presence on social media – the more you expose yourself there, the more likely you are to face backlash. There will always be people who have an opinion about what your size is, what you do and whether you should be doing it, but really part of our job is not caring. If you care, it defeats the point of what we do.” 

The Body Positivity Movement Has Been Commercialised 

“It doesn’t always feel genuine when a brand starts using curvy models. You never know what their true goal is. But I figure whether you’re trying to get good publicity or you genuinely believe in representation, it doesn’t matter – it’s getting to the right people. If young girls are seeing that message, it can only be a good thing. Everything has to be a novelty before it becomes normal.” 

Jakub Koziel
You could be doing the most positive thing in the world, but someone on Instagram is still going to be rude about it.

Curve Girls Want The Same Clothes As Straight Girls 

“The biggest thing designers need to realise is plus size women do not want different clothes. So many brands out there that just don’t get that. What if you’re size 14 and you’re 16 years old? You want to wear the same styles as your friends.  Brands like ASOS and New Look have the same clothes from sizes 4 and 6 all the way up – the same item, just cut differently, and that’s amazing. As a rule, the more you spend on the high street, the better the cuts, the more they factor in hips etc. Primark, however, really get women’s body sizes.” 

 

You Have To Invest In Underwear 

“Figleaves is the best for curvy underwear - they understand boob sizes. They know we don’t want them weighing down on us. Once you buy from a great, designated underwear brand, you never look back!” 

Getting Booked For A Nike Job Was My Biggest Achievement 

“I was booked for a huge fitness campaign, and not as a plus size model. I love working out and boxing, and it felt like such an achievement to be recognised for that. I work out and eat well because I have to – I have to have good hair and skin. But there’s a lot written about there being an expectation on us to gain weight or stay a certain size, which is ludicrous. I’ll always have hips and boobs, whatever size I am.” 
 

Designer Brands Are Going To Have To Start Using Curvy Girls 

“High fashion brands are falling behind other areas of the industry when it comes to representation, and if they want longevity, they’re going to have to keep up. Designers shouldn’t be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, but this is the real world, and fundamentally fashion is a business. By only using one body type, these businesses are choosing to shut themselves off to so much potential custom; I love watching the shows, and looking at the fashion, but I’m not spending my money. To me it’s a no brainer commercially. It is beginning to change – a few girls from my agency walked for Alexander Wang this year – but there’s a long way to go yet.” 

Photoshopped Images Are A Dying Breed 

“It used to always happen 4 or 5 years ago. Now I think I’d be hard pushed to find one. When you see an image of yourself and realise they didn’t feel the need to photoshop it, it not only affects me positively, but it’s good for other people; young girls should see models with ‘flaws’. Plus, I think it helps the brand – these days, people can spot a doctored image a mile off.” 

We Need To Stop Focusing On Size Labels 

“My job has made me so aware that the number on an item of clothing means nothing – I am a size 14, and I will wear anything from a 10 to an 18. It’s not even brand to brand, it’s item to item, and people need to be less obsessed with squeezing into their perceived size – muffin tops don’t happen on their own! If it doesn’t fit, just don’t buy it. And if you really like it, go up a size or two. And if that really bothers you, just cut the label out.” 

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