With a size four waist, Dutch model Lara Stone, is hardly what the American public would consider fat, or even plus-sized for that matter. Against a standard made by the fashion industry in print and runway venues, however, Stone stands out as bigger than the usual size 0 silhouettes of her colleagues.
Despite this fact, the supermodel was featured on the cover of both W Magazine as “Fashion’s It Girl” and British Vogue as “The Girl of the Year,” among other front-page appearances. She has walked numerous runways and has been at the peak of her career for the last three years, as noted by fashion and fantasy authority, Vogue magazine.
Her success has hardly been a smooth transition, taking her from runway to rehab for a spot of alcoholism no doubt related to the stress of not being able to — pardon the distastefully appropriate pun — fit in. Rehab’s a thing in the past for Stone and her iconic lies resilience is nothing short of inspiring for young girls struggling with body image.
But Stone would not be wholly representing the plus-size model. At least, not with her waist.
Real plus-size stands in the double digits, the likes, lengths and widths of women like Beth Ditto, Velvet D’Amour or Johanna Dray, to name only a few.
Are they names you recognize and see often? No. Not like Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell. They’re more scarce and arguably more precious, ready to defy what beauty has become since the “thin is in” mentality took over media in the late 20th century.
Such a spirit lives in Miami-born Crystal Renn, model and author of awing memoir “Hungry,” which exposes her struggle with weight and body image. As the femme-finale from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s 2006 spring pręt-a-porter show, Renn is more relatable and inspiring with her size 12 waist and Cover of Russian Harper’s Bazaar on her resume.
Plus size women are at the forefront of a movement that, at its very bare bones, can be traced back to 1980’s and is showcased in V Magazine’s controversial “Size Issue.” Sprawled across this February 2010 release are V’s “heroes” for this trend, including socialite Dianne Brill and all natural body builder Lisa Lyons, who Robert Mappthlethorpe, a photographer known for his use of models, couldn’t get enough of.
These curvy beauties aren’t snatching the stage, rather they are sharing a parallel and contradicting development in the ever-changing standard of beauty. The industries considering plus-size are so far into thin that any change feels like a revert to the nostalgic beauty of the early 20s or the elegant curves in the paintings of Francisco de la Goya or the films starring all-American beauty Lillian Russell. Thin is still in, but so is everything else. As was noted in the foreword for V Magazine’s Size issue, “Everybody is beautiful.” That’s the incoming message.
As cynical as it sounds, what we’re likely to see now is an arms race for shock and novelty. Who can upstage the next person in redefining beauty? Who can find the biggest beauty? Who can dish out the best “size issue” and sell more copies with it?
But on a hopeful side, maybe this isn’t what is ahead. What we may see, is the message John Galliano wanted to drive home in his Spring 2006 runway show; a message better said by Sarah Mower in her review of the event: “Everybody’s beautiful; live and let live; respect one another — that sort of thing.”