Who Represents Me?
A few weeks ago I modeled for a Seattle-based brand. This was not something that I did for my blog, just me being a model. I was excited at the experience because not only do I love to be in front of the camera, but the opportunity to work with a cool digital brand intrigued me. The experience was incredible. I got the full treatment of hair, makeup, and styling. It was a ton of fun and an amazing experience. I had an absolute blast and felt like a real model. I even got to see sneak a peek of some of the photos and was so excited; they looked incredible!
On the day that my photos went live, I hopped over to the website to find where the photos were posted. I was surprised to see that my images were representing the plus size section. I was surprised at this because 1) I’m not plus size, and 2) I had not been told my images would be used to represent plus size. Having formerly been a plus size woman, I was immediately conflicted with what I saw. Seeing my current body representing the plus size woman that I used to be left me feeling confused and disappointed. I didn’t think it was right or fair that a non-plus size woman was being used to represent plus size when there are beautiful plus size women who could and should be used to represent plus size. When I look back at my before pictures and think of the beautiful size 16W/18W that I was, I know I would have been upset to see a non-plus size woman representing her in marketing.
I’m no longer plus size and no longer in that in-between stage where I hovered between straight-size and plus-size clothing. I’m at the high end of the regular size range: a size 10/29/Medium pretty much across the board. And sure, my body type might skew more towards the plus size shape as I have an athletic build, I’m fairly curvy, and well-endowed. I know that in modeling a size 10 is often considered plus size, but when you shop at the store, a size 10 does not fall within the plus size range. So why was I representing the plus size segment of the market?
I’ve been grappling with my feelings about this since I first saw the photos posted. Size is a spectrum and for some reason we’ve placed labels on it like “straight-size” and “plus size”. Clothing sizes run the gamut and brands should do better at representing men and women of all shapes, sizes, and colors in their marketing efforts; not just highlighting the ideal body type (the ideal being what they’ve predetermined we should acknowledge as the ideal). I’m tired not only of the false advertising that comes from using too small models for the clothing but also these “perfect ideals” that are forced upon us to be accepted as the holy grail.
I remember being plus size and wondering who represented me. At the time, marketing efforts were just starting to shift to be more inclusive of all sizes (I fully acknowledge there is still a long way to go). Now that I’m at the larger end of the straight-size spectrum I am again left wondering who represents me. I’ve always been stuck in the middle, in this hated forgotten size range. Who represents me? Who represents all of us that aren’t that perfect ideal brands ask us to accept as the only definition of beautiful?