The Perception Problem

Modelling Agencies Work
Women come in different sizes and shapes and shouldn’t be criticized for being too big or too small.

Plus-size model is a pretty damaging term, isn’t it? The size zero phenomenon and quest for the ‘thigh gap’ have sparked debate about whether super skinny models should be used, but models considered too big have often struggle to find work.

By putting themselves in the public eye, those working in modelling agencies also open themselves up to criticism. As they are frequently just an anonymous face in a photo shoot people judge them solely on the way they look. Human nature is a cruel thing.

As long as there has been a perceived beauty ideal, women have strived to achieve it, and in doing so could damage their health. The historical practice of binding feet as a status symbol resulted in horrendous deformity, tiny feet which are painful to walk on and bones which couldn’t grow as they should have. There is evidence of it being perceived as erotic – until they were unbound. The superficial appearance was considered attractive while the reality of the damage was unpleasant and off-putting.

More recently, a golden tan has been considered an attractive quality – but only in the young. A twenty year old who has used a sunbed to achieve an even tan might be complimented, while an older woman whose skin shows the marks of the damage done is no longer revered. The double standards are obvious, and you might argue that as medical knowledge has increased, and an understanding of the problems has become widespread these beauty trends have vanished.

But they haven’t.

Modelling agencies in the fashion sector tend to be asked to provide models with a uniform body image; tall, slender, and young. It makes everything easy for a stylist (you know exactly how clothes will look on if every model you use is the same shape). Fashion modelling is a particularly extreme case as the focus is entirely on aesthetic quality, but with women getting bigger do these perceptions have to change?

Modelling Agencies give you the proper exposure.
A plus-size model in the UK is anyone who wears size 12 clothing or above.

A plus-size model in the UK is anyone who wears size 12 clothing or above, while the average dress size in the UK is a curvy 16. The ‘plus-size’ moniker seems to imply that these women are larger than the norm. Saffi Karina, the plus-sized body of Boux Avenue, has been speaking out about her particular modelling niche. In an interview with the Daily Mail she talked about how modelling agencies didn’t used to have a place in their books for curves, because there simply wasn’t the demand. Even if the popularity of plus-size models increases, the term itself sounds negative.

Women come in different sizes and shapes and shouldn’t be criticised for being too big or too small. If the press continue to propagate body ideals then women will continue to strive to achieve them. Health and fitness is a far more important factor, and a toned size 14 might be far healthier than someone who is size 8. There are no rules because everyone’s bodies are different.

Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence has recently spoken out on Newsnight about why she promotes a healthy body image and won’t lose weight for roles: “We have the ability to control this image that young girls are going to be seeing. They see enough of this body that they will never be able to obtain and it’s an amazing opportunity to rid ourselves of that in this industry.”

Talent Management are one of a rising number of modelling agencies who sees people as people, not measurements. Our clients have all sorts of needs, and there no one person can fit every criterion.

A model is still a model, regardless of size.