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The Five Best Plus-Size Models
I devour fashion magazines faster than my younger brother can devour a bag of potato chips (and for those of you who aren't entirely sure how quickly a bag of Lay's can disappear around a thirteen year old... trust me, it's fast!)
It seems that with every issue of Vogue or Elle that I flip open, the models get thinner and thinner. I'd like to feed these girls! Beauty isn't a size zero. I'm not going to buy something that looks good on a stick figure... I KNOW it won't look the same on me. I want to see these clothes on real women. A growing number of plus-sized models are making their mark on the fashion industry, and though they often do not usually achieve a level of fame comparable to those of the skeletal girls that still grace too many pages of my magazines, it's important to call attention to these ladies who are redefining society's definition of beauty.
Crystal Renn is perhaps the most well-known American plus-sized-model of our time. She is the only plus-sized model to appear on a Harper's Bazaar cover, and she has also graced all four international Vogue covers. She holds contracts with high-profile labels such as Lane Brant and Torrid.
As a teenager and aspiring model, she was told to lose nearly one-third of her body weight to land work. She developed anorexia, and that eventually drove her from the business she once loved. In but made a triumphant return at her healthy size. She has even written a book, Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves, about her experiences in the fashion industry and her body transformation.
The media has followed her extensively, and she walked in Jean-Paul Gaultier's Spring/Summer 2006 collection in Paris. At the start of 2011, she became the face of Jimmy Choo.
Born in Montana but raised in Hawaii, Maggie Brown is an exotic beauty - and one of the most successful Asian-American plus-sized models. Her big break happened in 2006, when she won The Tyra Banks Show's "Tyra's Thick and Sexy Top Model Contest." Since the contest, she has graced many a magazine cover, as well as doing campaign work for Macy's and other large-name stores. She has a contract with Wilhelmina Models, as well as making regular appearances with Carson Kressley (of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame) on How to Look Good Naked.
In an interview with plusmodelmagazine.com, she stated, "My desire is to make a difference for the young girls who are growing up now... I want to be a positive example to them to let them know... there is NO NEED to starve yourself or hide under that sweatshirt or oversized T-Shirt... strut your stuff... work it... because you know what? Big is Sexy!"
Here's another of Tyra's great discoveries: Toccara Jones, from Dayton, Ohio. She started as a contestant on America's Next Top Model, and was the eighth model to be eliminated from the show. She was a crowd favorite for her vivacious personality, and took home the title of "Covergirl of the Week" several times. Despite not winning, she parlayed her success into a modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models.
She now models with a platform to change not only the face of plus-sized modeling, but to support black models as well. She was featured in a fourteen-page spread for the July, all-black issue of Vogue Italia, which features significant past and current black models in response to the "black out" of black models preventing them from getting hired for print and runway jobs.
She has since starred on the covers of many magazines, including Ebony magazine, on their December 2008 issue. She has also worked in the entertainment industry, appearing on the Celebrity Fit Club and as a guest correspondant for the Tyra Banks show. She even has her own work-out DVD - Toccara's Fabulous Work-Out for Real Size Women.
Chloe Marshall brings not only a healthy dose of real woman to the fashion world, but to the pageant world as well. Crowned as the first plus-sized Miss Surrey in 2008, she has since garnered success in the modeling world and landed a sweet contract with Models Plus, an English agency that focuses on plus-sized models.
A size 16 at the time of the Miss England finals, she states that she "wanted to go through to the Miss England finals to break the stereotype that you have to be tall and skinny to be considered beautiful." She was the first runner up in the 2008 Miss England competition - though she didn't walk away with a crown, she made a huge impact on the standard ideal of beauty.
Kate Dillon's career began as a svelte size 6, working with Elite NYC, but similar to Crystal Renn, she suffered from anorexia and negative body image. After overcoming her health issues, she relaunched her career as a healthy size fourteen. She has appeared in several successful campaigns for top plus-size clothing retailers, and has also been featured in several editions of Vogue.
She is now an advocate for positive body image and self-esteem, and was a guest on season 3 of America's Next Top Model, speaking about her struggles as a plus-size model and how being healthy is more important than being thin.
The fashion industry is gradually growing more inclusive towards full-figured models. More and more plus-sized models are gaining national attention and drawing attention to the fact that big can be beautiful, too. Many modeling agencies are incorporating plus-side divisions now, and the number of successful plus-sized models is on the rise.
These women are all changing the face (and the body) of fashion, today.