Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Nudity, magazines and plus-size models

Candice Huffine, a plus-size model with Ford, is on the cover of the latest issue of S Moda, in, well, nothing. It’s not a particularly great departure for the plus-size genre; in the past few years we’ve seen several plus-sized …

Mon, May 21, 2012, 07:30

   

Candice Huffine, a plus-size model with Ford, is on the cover of the latest issue of S Moda, in, well, nothing. It’s not a particularly great departure for the plus-size genre; in the past few years we’ve seen several plus-sized models be “embraced” by the mainstream fashion press, but their access to the annals of fashion magazines has been largely restricted to burlesque, boudoir-esque shoots with the women wearing very little or, more often than not, nothing at all. What’s it all about?

There’s no doubt that Huffine looks adorable, but the fact that the emphasis in most of these shots is on her, rather than the clothing – which, when it exists, resembles several items one could pick up in one’s local American Apparel, rather than the high-end fashions usually sported by the more diminutive clothes horses. It seems that high fashion can only accept the larger lady if her body is in the spotlight. While “regular” models are there to show off the clothes, with minimal attention given to their own bodies – a great example of this is the fact that Vogue regularly exposes nipples in its editorials, but never at the expense of the couture’s limelight – plus-sized models’ bodies need to be discussed, lest they become the proverbial elephant on the page.

The other issue here is that – and this may be a subject of personal opinion – the clothes don’t actually look good. S Moda, as a plus-sized woman, I will tell you that it’s not all that difficult to find flattering clothing. Oversized knits are not our friends – and black peep-toe pumps? How much more pedestrian can we get? It’s as if the team at S Moda was forced into featuring Huffine – I’d imagine their discussion went a little like this. “So, we have to do the plus-sized model?” “Yeah.” “What’ll we dress her in?” “Who cares? Let’s do a nude shot, a few underwear shots and for the rest of it … nyeh. She won’t be able to sell the clothes anyway.”

I’m not a campaigner for plus-sized models – nor am I a purist when it comes to editorials. I would love to see women of all shapes and sizes represented on the pages of the high-end glossies I spend my hard-earned salary on, and I would imagine that advertisers would like that too, especially if a recent study, that showed that people are not more likely to buy clothes modelled by ultra skinny models, is anything to go by.

More than anything else, I would like models to appear healthy and happy – there is something almost impersonal about a model seen on the shiny pages of magazine print that reminds me of thoroughbred horses. I want them hale and hearty, shiny and nourished, but I don’t want them divided into two very distinct tracts: the ultra-thin super and the novelty plus-size, who can only be viewed in terms of her sexuality and “womanliness”.

What do you think? Please, share your thoughts below – but let’s not allow this to descend into a discussion about how skinny = bad and real women = plus size. We’re all real women and whatever our body shapes are, they’re ours; women’s bodies are no one’s properties but their own. I just wish that the fashion world would take that on board.

P.S. If you fancy seeing what I have to say about dressing bodies of all shapes, check out this week’s Xposé on TV3 at 6pm or on 3E at 6.30pm.

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