Time to change the plus-size tag?
Is it time the term plus-size model was, to use a phrase Tony Abbott coined recently, "dead, buried and cremated"?
Natalie Wakeling, said to be Australia"s biggest (ahem, sorry ... best) plus-size model certainly thinks so. With the fashion industry defining any model over a size 10 – hardly huge – as "plus-sized", Wakeling said it was time models who reflected the actual size of many of the women watching fashion parades to be simply referred to as models.
"We do everything that a straight-size model does but we just happen to be a normal-size woman," Wakeling said. "The term plus-size model doesn"t mean you sit around eating Maccas all day." The life of a plus-sized model sure sounds like an easy one. No need to scrutinise calorie contents, fit into teeny-tiny sample sizes and compete for super skinny status like models on most catwalks. But the world of the plus-size model is competitive. There are more models than ever competing for a comparatively small number of jobs.
Wakeling, 177 centimetres tall and a size 14, said she weighed between 69 and 73 kilograms. Like many women, her weight fluctuated regularly and she described herself as "yo-yoing". She said she tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle in between looking after her children and working.
"We probably tend to focus more on our health, more so then our weight," she said of plus-size models over their skinnier sisters. Plus-size models tended to have to work harder on their look at casting calls, were less likely to smoke and enjoyed a longevity in their careers that most skinny models could only dream of, the 30-year-old said. This year the Perth Fashion Festival has included a show featuring bigger models than usual, spruiking the event as featuring plus-size models alongside real women who will be plucked out of obscurity and sent down the catwalk.
"It is so important for women to have a positive body image, strong self esteem and healthy lifestyle," Festival director Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan said. The fashion world is starting to embrace the use of plus-size models to sell items to an Australian population where the average woman is a size 14-16.
BGM Models director Darrianne Donnelly said designers were increasingly realising the benefits of using curvier models to promote their collections. "Designing for women"s different sizes and shapes is a challenge but we are now seeing a change in the perception that designer clothes only look good on stick thin models," she said. Next step, according to Wakeling, is losing the plus-size tag.