Are plus-sized models a fashion stunt or a shift?

Debra Bass

Changing trends in the size of models

Will we see more plus-sized models in the future?

I stopped to talk with Crystal Renn, who was enjoying a front row seat at Anna Sui’s 2010 fall/winter collection in New York. She was optimistic about the future of larger women getting a chance to shine on fashion runways, but I’m not so sure.

Now the questions are: how large is too large, and should designers go out of their way to camouflage plus-sized figures or accentuate them?

Some argue that it’s time for the pendulum to shift away from alarmingly thin toward a size closer to the average woman. But should that change the way designers showcase their creations. Are they sworn to make plus-sized girls look particularly good, even though many disregard the comfort and safety of the typical waif model.

During fashion week, it’s typical to see everything on the runway from short, sheer garments that leave nothing to the imagination and models wrapped and layered in so much knitwear, fur and jewels that they look like a walking pile of clothes.

So why should it be different for larger models. Because it is, is the only answer.

An appearance by Crystal has critics embracing a double standard. Many lament Crystal’s turn on the catwalk at London Fashion Week for a Canadian-born designer named Mark Fast.

For the second year in a row, Fast has made a conscious fashion statement by including plus-sized models along with the typical rail-thin variety to show off his elegantly distressed knit wear.

But some say he’s not doing plus-sized models or plus-sized people any favors by dressing models like Crystal in skin-tight outfits that shine a spotlight on every curve, lump and bump.

I admit, I do not think these were the most flattering outfits Crystal could wear, but I’ve seen much worse on runways in the name of fashion. I think the designer dressed Crystal, along with a few other models who were over a size 12, this way to make a statement and I don’t think it’s a bad one.

Crystal Renn has a recently released book called “Hungry” in which she chronicles the years that she starved herself to be painfully thin in order to work in modeling. Now, she’s a plus-sized model and happily still maintaining her career. We talked about her exploits and her journey here at Style File in a post called, “Is fat the new thin? ‘Hungry’ model weighs in.”

There was a bunch of hubbub over what’s size should model’s be and there were proposals for mandatory medical tests to access the health of models, but those ideas were dropped.

Crystal was also one of seven plus-sized models who posed nude in Glamor magazine last year after a small photo of a naked model with some jiggle around her middle caused a sensation of thousands upon thousands heaping her with praise and scorn.


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