Why Elle’s ‘Plus-Size’ Model Is a Step In the Wrong Direction

Tara Lynn on Elle Spain.
Tara Lynn on Elle Spain.

She’s been called the “plus-size It Girl” and now model Tara Lynn has landed the cover of Elle Spain.

It’s being hailed as a victory for the voluptuous.

As Alissa Wilson, a fashion blogger at Stylish Curves tells Yahoo, “The Elle Spain cover is a coup for curvy women, who are often excluded from the American fashion world or regulated to a special ‘curvy’ section…It’s in part, a business decision — the European fashion world has received lots of flak for using too-skinny models in the past, so their media has become more inclusive.”

Lynn’s resume is impressive.  She has landed the cover of French Elle, Vogue Italia and V magazine and scored a blue jeans editorial in Glamour. She was also featured on the cover of H&M‘s 2012 spring plus-size swimwear line “Big Is Beautiful.”

While I don’t disagree with Alissa Wilson’s assessment that Lynn on the cover of Elle is great in that curvy women aren’t being relegated to a special ‘curvy section’, I don’t  look at the cover and see “plus-size” or a “mujer real” (real woman) either, as the mag declares in bold, white type.

Not only is calling a woman who looks like Lynn ‘plus size’ offensive to those of us who’ll never look like her no matter how hard we work out, implying that women have to be voluptuous to be classified as “real” is equally objectionable. As Carrie Murphy from The Gloss so astutely points out, “the implication is that standard size fashion models, and indeed, women who are thin or skinny, are not real women.”

Putting an average-sized woman on the cover of a magazine instead of the usual clothing hangers is a win, yes, but labeling her ‘plus-sized’ sucks the triumph right out of it. Hey! You’re good enough to be on the cover of a glamor mag, so long as we make sure everyone knows that we think you’re plus-size. It’s kind of like saying, ‘You throw pretty good, FOR A GIRL.”

Yahoo Shine published an article last month called, Here’s The Dirty Truth About The Plus-Size Modeling Industry in which it reports, “the average “plus-size” model wears a size 12/14, but appears thinner than that size due to her height.” The average size woman is also size 14.

How is parading a bunch of women who are still thinner than the average woman and labeling them ‘plus-size’ in some fake, patronizing nod toward “real women” (i.e. curvy women) a victory for anyone? Calling women like Tara Lynn and Robyn Lawley ‘plus-size’ is as perverse as using obviously anorexic women on the runway. Look everyone! The ‘plus-size‘ model is on the cover of Elle! Seriously, look! How is that woman considered plus-sized? Not to mention they’ve made her appear as skinny as a “regular” model by hiding half her upper body behind a jacket.

Put a thin (not anorexic) model on the cover or put a curvy model on the cover, but stop with the labeling or pandering to “real women.” Because if there’s one thing real women know, it’s that we come in all different shapes and sizes that have absolutely nothing to do with our realness.

Tell me, would you point out this photo to your size 14 daughter and tell her it’s a victory for her?

Image source: Elle Spain

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