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An Introduction to the Complicated Plus-Size Modeling Industry Jargon

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With the fashion industry currently opening doors to all sorts of shapes and sizes, hundreds of aspiring models flock to casting calls in hopes of landing that coveted gig. The term “plus-size” has constantly been making its rounds in social media as well as the rest of the world, but just what exactly fits the criteria? We’ve heard stories about models being called too thin or too big, and more often than not, it’s made us scratch our heads and ask ourselves, what is too big or too thin?

We see a certain body type and compare it to another and inevitably classify them as big or small like what our favorite retail shops tell us. Because this eyebrow-raising subject could not be any less confusing, we prepared a list that might just help you be knowledgeable about the different terms used in the plus-size modeling industry.

From straight-sized, curvy, or inbetweenie, here’s a quick list to run through:


plus-size modeling

Ah, the universal term that started it all.  Anyone would point a plus-size model in a plus-size modeling agency as someone larger than the models they see on the runway. To be specific, they are full figured and usually start at the size 16 mark (by UK standards), slightly higher than the average woman. Most models who are higher than the average model size are often encouraged by their agencies to gain more weight to fit the standard plus-size modeling. This is so because a lot of brands in the market today include campaigns for plus-size models, whether they be editorial or high fashion. A good example would be Ashley Graham, the American model who continues to turn heads in the runway. Although some agencies push the envelope higher, signing the beautiful Tess Holiday who is a size 26, the normal range still runs from the UK size 14 to 16.

Straight Size

Plus-Size Modeling

Straight-size models are actually a legit classification of models. A lot of people may have not heard of this one. Although not a relatively new term, rookie models often come across agents that tell them they need to lose weight once they reach the size 8 (UK) even if this is the average dress size for women. So other than pinning the clothes back to fit the usual skinny size, they get straight-size models to do the job. Usually for print models and ad campaigns, this is the perfect term for catalog modeling.


Plus-Size Modeling

Slim waist, big bust. In other words, this is the dream, the ones known by many as bombshells. People may raise their eyebrows because for the majority, curves don’t translate to plus-size. Stefania Ferraro is one of them. She started the social media campaign #droptheplus, which has since then strongly affected the public, rallies against dropping the word plus-size modeling from the fashion industry. But for Anna Shillinglaw, owner of modeling agency Milk Management, it is a viable business distinction in modeling.


Robyn Lawley is the perfect poster girl for this type. She has famously graced the covers of high fashion and editorial magazines around the world. The stunning Australian beauty has curves enough to gain the admiration of audiences everywhere.

As the term implies, this body type has measurements no less for the standards of a size 0 model, not enough for plus-size, and not even close to qualify to be a straight-size model. This is a promising note for fashion, knowing that there is a size that can fit the average woman who don’t belong to any of the other criteria. The downside is that most industry giants don’t conform to this type, strategically hiring the more common size 0 we see plastered in high-end avenues and in fashion week runways.


Instagram may be the second-biggest social media giant after the giant Facebook. Loads of young women nowadays are typing #goals or #bodygoals in the comment section of every celebrity or those self-proclaimed “Instagram models.” It’s safe to say that fashion campaigns or mere model-worthy shots uploaded online affect how women define beauty nowadays, even if the image had been photoshopped or not. In the words of fashion commentator Caryn Franklin says, “Fashion has normalised an appearance that is not the norm, so this is affecting body confidence of both women and men.” She adds that students from Liverpool have come up with the term life-size to better describe models larger than fashion’s average size 0.

The true battle here in the end is how the world perceives a model’s body. She could be again be deemed too thin or too big in a world where physical attributes are everything.

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