Plus-size model speaks out about being the 'token curvy chick' in fashion campaigns
When someone says the word "model," you probably picture someone so impossibly skinny that if they turn sideways they can slip through cracks in the floor like Paper Mario. However, many plus-size models have been challenging the norm, proving that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Slowly, clothing companies have become more inclusive. They've discovered that by hiring a variety of models, they appeal to a variety of consumers.
Despite this positive progress, plus-face models still face discrimination while on the job. Jessica Vander Leahy is a plus-size model from Sydney, Australia. At 30 years old, she's worked in the modeling industry for over a decade, and recently spoke out about the prejudicial treatment she's witnessed.
On the Healthyist podcast, Jessica discussed a photoshoot where she was allegedly told to "just smile and look happy." Meanwhile, a skinnier female model was told to pose sexily with a male model. “We want to do the sexy things too," said Jessica. "We want to do the same as what our thinner counterparts are doing. We don’t want to be the one token curvy chick."
Jessica believes that should fashion campaigns should reflect the real world. The people buying clothes have different kinds of bodies, so the models showing off the apparel should have different kinds of bodies too. "Everyone deserves to look and feel beautiful and enjoy what they’re wearing," said Jessica. "We really have to be more considerate in what we are labelling as healthy and what we push as an ideal of beauty."
Of course, as a society, we're all superficial to some degree. And if you're a plus-size model posting your photos online, it's impossible to avoid offensive body-shaming comments from trolls. However, you should never take those nasty remarks to heart. "It’s still hurtful when someone wants to put you down," said Jessica. "But at the end of the day it’s a reflection on them. Indeed, when trolls say something cruel online, they're really commenting about how much they hate their own body image, and expressing frustration about their own unhappy life. They think slinging mud at random strangers will make them feel better, but they are greatly mistaken.
But Jessica doesn't post for stunning photos. In 2015, she launched Project WomanKIND, an initiative highlighting the amazing stories of inspiring women. Her Web series, #ShowMeYourScar, features women discussing their health struggles and how their scars shaped their gratitude for life. The project hopes to "smash the idea that perfection is what we must seek. We want women to reject the homogeneous ideals of beauty they've been force-fed and instead celebrate their own unique existence."
Hopefully on future photoshoots plus-size models will be treated the same as models with skinnier frames. They enjoy posing sexily, just like everyone else.