When Sports Illustrated unveiled their first plus-size cover girl, Ashley Graham, the Internet was quick to rejoice. It is about time that curvier women take the spotlight for once. Though it is quite ironic that fashion has taken such a long time to notice, Graham’s participation was still a breath of fresh air in an industry so fixated on slender body types.
Aside from the sexy brunette, there are other plus-size models who made history, and they’re all worth mentioning. So to celebrate these fun and fearless women, here are gorgeous plus-size models who helped redefine the meaning of beauty.
5 Inspiring Plus-Size Models Who Made History
1. Robyn Lawley
Graham may have been Sports Illustrated‘s first plus-size cover girl, but Robyn Lawley became the first plus-size model to be featured in the magazine’s annual Swimsuit Issue in 2015. The 28-year-old Australian beauty also starred in several Ralph Lauren campaigns, scored a cover for Cosmopolitan Australia, and had numerous spreads in Vogue and GQ Australia.
2. Naomi Shimada
Another beauty on this list of plus-size models who made history is Naomi Shimada, who has over 15 years of experience in the modeling industry. In an honest interview with The Guardian, she shared just how difficult it was to keep her weight down as she grew older. Shimada ultimately came to terms with her body and has remained outspoken about it ever since. She has starred in magazine spreads including InStyle and Oh Comely.
3. Whitney Thompson
Shockingly, it took ten seasons for America’s Next Top Model to finally name their first plus-size model. Despite the long wait, Whitney Thompson fiercely proved to the judges that she deserved to win the title. Since taking part in the reality show, she has modeled for Forever 21, Cover Girl, and Saks Fifth Avenue. She was also named the ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association.
4. Sophie Dahl
Sophie Dahl is one of the two plus-size models who made history after being featured in the annual Pirelli Calendar (the other being fellow top model Candice Huffine). Dahl, who was one of the industry’s sought-after models in the late nineties, was photographed completely nude by Herb Ritts in 1999. Though she’s completely abandoned the modeling industry, she is now a celebrated author and mom.
Melissa Owens Miller, popularly known as “Emme,” is a fashion icon. She was the first full-figured woman to be included in People magazine’s Most Beautiful list in 1994 and again in 1999. Emme is no longer modeling, but she’s sought to help others by writing three self-help books: True Beauty—Positive Attitudes & Practical Tips from the World’s Leading Plus Size Model; Life’s Little Emergencies: Everyday Rescue for Beauty, Fashion, Relationships, and Life; and Morning Has Broken: A Couple’s Journey Through Depression.