This is not a witch hunt. This is not a name and shame exercise. This is purely about what I think is a “relatability crisis” when it comes to trying to find role models in the world of mainstream plus size modeling.
Note: If you have any other suggestions about why you can’t relate to mainstream plus models, please let me know either via the comments or by email: email@example.com
Note #2: This article will discuss themes that apply to models both short and tall, there is no “heightism” here; the only qualifier is that the themes discussed will relate to women who class themselves as “plus sized.”
So, what makes me view some women in our world as unrelatable?
I feel with social media there is a growing trend of plus women simply creating accounts to gain followers. Their posts have so little substance I struggle to think what else they could be hoping to achieve.
This doesn’t just include mainstream plus models. This critique extends to a lot of women I’ve seen set up Instagram or TikTok pages purely for the sole purpose of gaining followers. One I saw recently bragged in her Instagram tagline “30k friends on TikTok.” Of course, everyone is entitled to set up OOTD pages and share style tips with followers, but there is so little substance in these posts about the fit, style and their personal thoughts on the outfit they’ve literally put together, that often the only “followers” will be middle-aged Asian men that you can see dominating in the comments. They could be following them for the style tips, I dunno.
Social followers are a vanity metric, so it’s perhaps no surprise platforms like Instagram and TikTok attract people like this, I just can’t get behind an influencer who wants to be social media famous for the sake of being famous.
Let me say this in their defense: there is nothing wrong with this motive if you’re a person who wants to gain followers and if that makes you feel confident in your body. I personally prefer plus women who use their platform as influencers to affect positive change.
There are plenty of excellent examples of plus models using their social following to speak out about genuine issues we face with regards to media perception and hate (Kate Wasley is one of the more famous examples of this.)
the cookie-cutter body type of a mainstream ”plus“ model
There are notable exclusions to this such as Lizzo and Tess Holliday, but generally the famous plus models all conform to the same image:
- Big boobs
- Small waist/no belly
- Big hips
- Toned legs
It’s essentially the result of a Kardashian gaining a hundred pounds. This is not an “achievable” body shape for 99% of women, and nor should it be. I mourn the days when women with bellies were actually admired.
I have a big belly, small-ish boobs, I do have big hips (woo?) and big legs. I couldn’t name a famous plus model who represents my body shape. I want to see how clothes look on normal women.
women who i admire
There are so many varieties of plus body shapes, and it’s important for me to follow/support women who I can see myself in, and also those who represent fat diversity. For a tall woman with broader shoulders and smaller hips, Abby Roedel provides a relatable role model. For the super plus apple shape, Fat Positive Fairy is a literal shining light.
I have a section on my website dedicated to inspirational women like the ones I’ve mentioned above. These are (mostly) tall, fat women who I’ve discovered organically over the course of many years. They have a variety of body shapes, but above all, they have a purpose to their cause, championing fat activism and speaking out against discrimination. I genuinely admire these women and would go to war with them because I can see my own struggles, fears, thoughts, and joy in them.
These women are real, relevant, and relatable.
So for now, these are the “models” I will champion.