Plus Size Models

12 Models Who Helped Change the Way Society Views the Plus-Size Industry

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The Internet is continuously buzzing with talk about plus-size models and that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover. It’s great that the plus-size industry is getting more attention, but it’s not just one issue of a magazine that is changing the way people view plus size. There are other models who are carrying the torch and leading the charge. Most of them want to get rid of the term plus size. These are just some of the models who want to be known simply as models, no matter what size and shape they are.

Robyn Lawley

Plus-Size Model

Robyn Lawley is a 24-year-old model from Sydney. She was the first plus-size model to star in a campaign for Ralph Lauren, be on the cover for Australian Cosmopolitan, and she was also on the Oz version of Vogue and GQ.

Crystal Renn

Plus-Size Model

If you are updated on trends, then you would know who Crystal Renn is. In her 2009 book Hungry, Renn has spoken out about the pressure of being in the modeling industry. She started her career as a straight-size model, but at that time, she was suffering from anorexia. When she got treatment, she came back as a size 12. She changed her career path and was the first plus-size model to walk the runway for Chanel. She’s worked with Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and others.

Renn has said, “I don’t want terms like plus-size and straight-size, or even a clothing size—currently I’m an 8—to define if I’m beautiful or not.”

Ashley Graham

Plus-Size Model

Aside from being on the Sports Illustrated cover, the magazine also featured a plus-size ad which was Ashley Graham‘s campaign called SwimsuitsForAll. Graham has been in the news before, like when her 2010 Lane Bryant campaign was deemed too racy while Victoria’s Secrets ads were allowed to run. 

Tess Holliday

Plus-Size Model

At size 22 and with a 5’5″ height, Holliday is the first model of her size to land a major modeling contract. When asked why it took so long for a woman like her to be signed on to an agency, she said, “I think people weren’t listening to what consumers wanted. I think for a long time we’ve been saying that we want to see women that look like us in the media, and consumers for some reason seem to think that clothing looks better on smaller models. That’s what we’re buying, we’re buying an image, but in reality, I know that if I buy a pair of size 22 jeans, I’m still going to be a size 22.”

Whitney Thompson

Plus-Size Model

It took ten seasons, but America’s Next Top Model was able to declare a plus-size winner before they were off the air. Whitney Thompson has gone on to model for CoverGirl, Forever21, and be an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association.

Katya Zharkova

Plus-Size Model

She first got attention when she was in a 2012 PLUS Model Magazine editorial. The size 12 stunner has said that there is a huge discrepancy between the average fashion model now compared to twenty years ago.

“Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23 percent less,” Zharkova says.

Lizzie Miller

Plus-Size Model

Lizzie Miller had a very tiny feature in Glamour‘s September 2009 issue, but it received such good feedback that the magazine decided to feature women of various sizes. At the time of her feature, Miller was not a celebrity or a model.

Denise Bidot

Plus-Size Model

Denise Bidot is the first plus-size Latina woman to walk in the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. 


Plus-Size Model

Emme has been a role model since the nineties. She was the first plus-size model to appear on an Australian magazine cover (New Woman, 1997). She was 1997 Glamour Woman of the Year. She has written three self-help books. Recently, she partnered with her alma mater Syracuse University to encourage students to create clothing for sizes 12 and above. It’s called Fashion Without Limits.

Sophie Dahl

Plus-Size Model

Sophie Dahl was a top model in the nineties, and she is the first plus-size model to be featured in the Pirelli calendar. She has now focused on her writing career.

Jennie Runk

Plus-Size Model

The first plus-size woman to be featured in an H&M summer campaign was Jennie Runk. She was on the Web site’s front page in 2013 in swimwear. 

Natalie Laughlin

Plus-Size Model

Natalie Laughlin was the first plus-size model to appear on a Times Square billboard. Now she works as an inspirational speaker.

These are just some of the plus-size models who have come to the media spotlight for some reason or another. But what the plus-size industry needs to work on is to have it become so common to feature a curvy model so that it is no longer shocking but instead just common place. Then, and only then, can we truly saw that plus is equal.

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