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The Five Best Plus-Size Models

Updated on December 11, 2011

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 proves that you don't have to be a pile of bones to rock high-fashion clothing.
Crystal Renn proves that you don't have to be a pile of bones to rock high-fashion clothing. | Source

Crystal Renn

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.

Maggie Brown proves that curvy is beautiful.
Maggie Brown proves that curvy is beautiful. | Source

Maggie Brown

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!"


Toccara Jones - in Vogue Italia's "All Black Issue"
Toccara Jones - in Vogue Italia's "All Black Issue" | Source

Toccara Jones

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, Miss Surrey winner, has made an enormous step in changing the stereotype of beauty.
Chloe Marshall, Miss Surrey winner, has made an enormous step in changing the stereotype of beauty. | Source

Chloe Marshall

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 sheds her clothes - and the traditional idea of beauty.
Kate Dillon sheds her clothes - and the traditional idea of beauty. | Source

Kate Dillon

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. 

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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Glad to see that someone thinks normal weight and size are not only acceptable, but sexy. I've so often seen models who's thighs appeared to be as small as my wrist in their pictures and that's ridiculous.

      Life is too short to spend it hungry if you have a choice. So many people in our world are hungry everyday, it's a shame when someone who can afford food must go without food to such an unreasonable extent for the sake of appearance.

      Why do people find such sickly thin people attractive in the first place? There's nothing wrong with being a size 8 or 10.

      Voting you UP and awesome! Welcome to hubpages!

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      I agree with the comment from Au fait that there is nothing wrong having a plus size. I even heard from some of my friends that they are shy shopping at malls or boutiques because of their body size. Look at those plus size models, they are beautiful and hot too. good work laurathegentleman, rated this hub up.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Au fait - It digusts me that a size ten or twelve is "plus-sized." How many women in this world wear a size ten or twelve?? Nearly everyone I know! And we're not plus-sized!

      I hope my hub brings a little attention to these beautiful women - thanks for stopping by!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you dinkan53, for stopping by and leaving a comment! I know how your friends feel - it's intimidating to walk into a store sometimes and shop for a large or extra-large... the expectation is that everyone will be pretty and perfect and frail! I hope my hub draws attention to the fact that some curves are healthy and attractive, too!

    • profile image

      SJmorningsun25 5 years ago

      Great Hub! These women need better recognition for making healthy look sexy and beautiful. You know what's scary, though--they don't look "plus-size"; they just look normal! How frightening that the fashion world characterizes normal-looking women as plus-size. However, it's a step! They've gotta start somewhere. Thanks for this inspiring Hub!

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I agree with SJmorningsun25, especially the first model, Crytal Renn. I believe that the trend from a few years back to go away from the anorexic look for models has faded. In the end, clothes draped on skinnier models sell more and advertisers and designers are there to make money. The economics overrides the morality of the issue. Well done hub, I hope you write more like this.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, SJmorningsun25, for the comment. Healthy IS sexy and beautiful - and I agree, this is normal! I don't think they should be considered plus-sized at all. I hope that the fashion industry can get their act together and work towards providing healthier, more realistic role models instead of sticking with the Kate Moss waif look!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Tracy! I think Crystal Renn is gorgeous, and I don't usually think of her as a plus-sized model, just as a gorgeous woman.

      I hope that fashion will start to focus on real women again, because I agree that it has started to pull back into the Kate Moss world, where models are walking clothes hangers and have no meat on their bones! Thanks for stopping by!

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 5 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      thank You,Laura.

      I like all types of women

      Read my poetry and you'll see

      The lord don't discriminate with beauty

      when men come to this conclusion

      the world a better place will be

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thank you, cleaner3 - for the poetic comment! I will definitely be checking out some of your poetry. It's true - society has warped our idea of beauty, but all woman are beautiful.

    • Marla Neogra profile image

      Marla J Neogra 5 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

      Thanks for this article. My daughter is a 14-16 and she is always checking out fashion mags and articles. I sent this to her to check out.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Marla, for the comment! I'm a 14-16, too, and I love to read fashion magazines, but it's always a little disheartening to see it filled with photos of little stick figure size twos... Bigger girls can be gorgeous, too, we just have to dress differently and shed the idea that we need to be thin to be pretty!

    • kmainka profile image

      kmainka 5 years ago from My Imagination.

      I love this! These women are gorgeous. How sad it is that some of these women are considered plus size, though! I came across the picture of Kate Dillon, and all I could think was "Wow, she looks the same size I am..." And I'm in size 6. Either looks are deceiving, or this world/society is so messed up that the idea of "plus sized" is getting smaller. (Not that I'm tiny. I'm quite curvy.) (...I'm starting to ramble. lol. Sorry.)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, kmainka :) I agree. Every single one of these women are stunning. It's so sad that society tells us we have to be stick figures to be beautiful.

      I think at times, we're so trained to see really tiny girls in magazines that when we see someone who is a normal, healthy size, we immediately think they look even bigger! (Or maybe that's just me... haha.)

    • urgurl_bri profile image

      Brandi Swieter 5 years ago from Holland, MI

      When I read the title I didn't expect to see any of the pictures you put. In my opinion, not one of these girls is anywhere near "plus-size." I'm sure none of them even weigh more than 150. Either way... good hub, as usual. :)

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, urgurl_bri! Society is warped, isn't it? I think this shouldn't even be labeled as plus-sized - to me, plus-sized is a beautiful size 14 or 16, and NOT a size 8!

    • TheLifeExperiment profile image

      TheLifeExperiment 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great hub!A couple things:

      -I do understand why skinny models are used- it is easier to see where hem lines fall, how it will hang, etc. And in certain areas of fashion, like avant garde, I do think skinny makes more sense and is sometimes better looking. But, for designers who make clothes for "normal" women, there should definitely be more diversity.

      -None of these women are technically that fat, but are of course bigger than average models. Anorexic looking models aren't pretty! Their faces are haggard even, but these women on this hub are curvy and actually look gorgeous. Health is much better looking than whatever skinny models do to stay alive!

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 5 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      I'm very into Fashion.I used to model.Then I had children.My body went up to a size 4. I was no longer marketable as I was told. I'm so happy to see plus size models and articles like yours. what the heck is a zero. I learned in elementary school zero means nothing!How can someone be a size zero!??

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks for the comment, TheLifeExperiment!

      I do, as well. I'll admit that all the pictures I clip out of magazines for my fashion inspiration are usually clothes worn on skinny models. I just think that it's important that the fashion industry recognizes that they also have to dress the rest of the world - including women who CAN'T squeeze into a size two....

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Thanks, Rusti! I think all of these women are beautiful! A zero SHOULDN'T be a size! I want to see regular women - size fours, size sixes, wearing these clothes. A plus-size woman should be a size 16 or 18, NOT a size 8!

    • profile image

      website optimization 5 years ago

      Hello, it really interesting, thanks laurathegentleman.hubpages.com

    • plussizepixie profile image

      plussizepixie 5 years ago

      Personally I think Rosie Mercado is one of the most stunning plus size models - you can see her here;

      http://pinterest.com/pin/189503096790973461/

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      She is absolutely beautiful! I wonder what size she is - dare I say those dreaded words: "She has such a pretty face." She truly does, though, and I don't mean in it the derogatory sense that most people are using - the "she's got a pretty face if only..." I think she is stunning, and I always love to see a bigger girl making waves in the traditional fashion scene. Go, Rosie! :)

    • plussizepixie profile image

      plussizepixie 5 years ago

      I think she is a size 26 from memory.

    • maddieriley profile image

      Maddie Riley 4 years ago from Santiago, Chile

      The picture of Toccara Jones looks like an attempt to hide the fact that she's curvy. I don't that I would have noticed her figure if I hadn't seen it in this context. Given the amount of thought that goes into advertising I can't imagine that wasn't intentional.

    • laurathegentleman profile image
      Author

      laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      You're right, Maddieriley! I see what you're saying - although, I do still think it's a step in the right direction that she is accepted within the market, even for jobs that don't necessarily highlight her curves. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • maddieriley profile image

      Maddie Riley 4 years ago from Santiago, Chile

      Oh absolutely. It's a slow process. Great hub!

    • RanaKm profile image

      RanaKm 2 years ago

      The first and the second ones are totally not plus sized! OMG hell no they even look skinny..

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