Fashion: The Rise Of The Plus Size Model

This week saw the launch of Nike’s plus-size range, which finally offers plus-size women the opportunity to exercise with some dignity and style. Having previously been forced to wear leggings and an old T-shirt, they can now find sportswear that is tailor-made for them. Nike, and credit to them, have invested hugely in the launch – not simply making clothes in bigger sizes, but rather pieces that accentuate and flaunt the bodies that God gave us. And, looking at the promotional pictures the models all look pretty damn good – with some pretty big names including Paloma Elsesser and US athlete Amanda Bingson. According to Helen Boucher, Vice President of Women’s Training Apparel at Nike, the line “reflects the fact that today young girls want to be strong.” Basically, what they are saying is not that every woman should, would or could be a size 6. And not only that, but that exercise isn’t about losing weightit forms part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle. Amen sista.

That being said, sadly the campaign has not been without controversy – with a few social media trolls coming out against itas they feel it promotes obesity and overeating. One Tweet read, “these lumps don’t look like they do anything healthy or athletic,” which is, of course, an intriguing statement given that one of said models is a fully fledged Olympic athlete.

These sorts of comments have been perpetuated by a few internet fat-shamers, although overall the feedback seems to be overwhelmingly positive.

However, this should surprise few, as whilst Nike are one of the first major brands, and certainly the first sports line to embrace plus-size models, there has been a huge rallying from the troops at the front lines – calling for exactly this sort of change for quite some time. A simple search for the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards will find over 2 million tags of women flaunting their bodies – curves and all.

And then there’s Tess Holliday. At a size 22, she’s one of the first plus-size models to be signed by a major agency (Milk Model Management). Oh and she has 1.4 million followers on Instagram, with a recent nude photo gaining over 25,000 likes. Having been featured in Elle, Marie Claire and H&M, Tess describes herself as a “body positive activist,” which basically means she believes people should be able to eat whatever they want without being ridiculed or judged. Obviously, we think she is pretty awesome.

Another plus-size figure of note is Roz “The Diva” Mays, who with 16,000 likes on Instagram boasts both incredible levels of skill on the pole and some pretty formidable curves. Worthy of respect for managing to navigate a pole with a dexterity we could only dream of, Roz is a phenomenal example of a plus-size woman proving that being thin isn’t the same as being strong.

We sincerely hope that Nike simply represents the start of a trend as more brands look to find ways to include every woman.

Words by Helena Baker
Tweet @Helenambaker

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