As a 25 year old Australian big bootay-ed, big boobie-ed size 10 who is always swooned by a leopard print coat, metallic gold figure hugging dress, diamond incrusted pumps and shoulder pad ridden sequined jackets… so it makes living in NYC is my MECCA! My adopted home is the epicenter of fashion, designers and the mythical like creatures that are the face of it all…. THE SUPER-MODELS…. in NYC, these girls are inescapable.
I love fashion and the creative power it has to allow people to be self expressive using their bodies as a canvas but it has taken me 25 years to embrace
my canvas and to love the skin I’m in! BUT it still ain’t easy especially living in a city where 6 foot, size 2, Heidi Klum-esque girls rule, who i’ve met btw 😉 !These girls set the bar for fashion in NYC and subsequently the world so if you’re anything else you’re considered “Plus-Size”, a term which I absolutely loathe!
As women we find being comfortable with our bodies a constant challenge. It’s just as hard now as it was when we were 15! Especially with constant trends changing, finding things that make us feels beautiful and worthy of the next seasons fashions can be incredibily frustrating. I’m determined to believe that this will no longer be the case…
It made me think, if this was 50 years ago, the women gracing that stage and grabbing the attention of 100’s of millions of people all around the world would be size 14, 5′ 6″ and look like this…..
This woman is considered the most iconic, beautiful woman ever to have existed. So what happened? When did this unrealistic idea of the perfect female body become so highly sort after?
I began to compare Australia to the US… the use of what the industry insiders call “Plus-Size” models A.K.A. everyday beautiful women, in Australia was a lot more frequent and on the rise! Although the US is starting to integrate more Plus-Size women in certain fashion campaigns, it doesn’t seem to be on a national scale where the majority (women of regular size) are aware of and can relate to! This angered me even further, I needed to know if there was an end in sight to this somewhat derogative term “Plus-Size”.
So I went out asking questions from someone who is in the know, who is in the industry, killing it, making a change, amongst the discussion and making a stand for who they are and not letting “rules” stop them from dominating…… Introducing Jessica King…..
Knowing Jessica from our formative years of high school, we shared great dreams and her’s always inspired me! I remember her as a strong confident vixen who was one day going to dominate… and she most certainly is…..Gracing national fashion campaigns, FULL SPREADS in COSMOPOLITAN, I have been following her success and she always stayed in my mind whenever I pondered the issue of Models and “Plus-Size” Models. She is constantly proving that true beauty has no label and she has helped me answer a few of my own questions, shedding some light on realities and where we can expect the industry to head…
1. What do you think is most important to discuss about plus-size modeling?
Most people are still quite uneducated when it comes to what a plus size model actually is. They hear the term “plus size” and automatically assume that it would equate to a model perhaps a few sizes larger than the average Australian woman. Everyone is always shocked when I explain that a plus size model can be as small as an Australian size 10. This can be quite confusing when you think that allegedly the average Australian woman wears a size 14-16. I think what people need to realise is that it’s purely an industry term that was created to help make it easy when clients are booking models. Just as they would ask to see blondes, or asian’s or fitness models, it just made sense to put larger size models into a category too. When I tell people I’m a plus size model, 90% of the time I will receive a response along the lines of – “What! How are you plus size, you’ve got a great body!” Obviously they intend this as a compliment, but it’s actually quite loaded and negative in a way because they are insinuating that “plus size” is a bad thing.
I often feel like I have to prove people wrong about certain misconceptions of being a plus size model. People often don’t think of it as a career, what they don’t realise is that it can actually be extremely lucrative and rewarding. Most people I come across in the fashion industry are extremely supportive of the integration of bigger size models. On occasion though you do have to fight to prove that plus size models can also be cool and edgy, just as their thinner counterparts- a lot of fashion big wigs see Plus size models as nothing but smiley and mumsy.
I chose London as I’d never been before and I saw it as an opportunity to combine travel with the potential to make some good money. I’ve had success in Australia for a few years now, but the market is still quite small so there isn’t much opportunity yet for growth. It’s intimidating in a way moving from your home base, since you accumulate regular clients over the years then lose them when you move away- it’s pretty much like starting all over again from the bottom.
The market is London is a lot larger which in turn makes it more competitive. There is definitely more scope for travel though, since you’re a lot closer to the major fashion hubs. One thing that I’ll mention that can be a little controversial is the use of padding- Australia hasn’t really coined onto this yet since the industry is still quite small but it’s very common here (and in the states) for girls to wear padding for castings and jobs to fill out the clothes more. Some clients might love your face but need you to have a few more cm’s on your hips to fill their samples- that’s where padding comes in. A few people argue that it’s just as bad as photoshopping a model to be skinnier but I’m not so sure.
5. Do you think there’ll ever be a time where a size 12 or 14 won’t be considered a “Plus Size” Model?
I think so. A few people are currently campaigning to do away with the term Plus Size. I still use the term myself because I like creating a dialogue with people who would have otherwise remained naive to the industry. I think in the mean time whilst it’s still used commonly for practical reasons I feel we need to educate people that Plus size doesn’t equal bad, or ugly or fat or lazy. It’s literally just plus size 8 (standard Australian dress size for straight size models).
So go on, follow Jess on Instagram @jessraeking and join this IMPORTANT discussion with her 10,100 plus followers…
DON’T FORGET TO LOVE THE SKIN YOU’RE IN AND LIVE LIFE LUSCIOUSLY
Jessica King is represented by-
AUSTRALIA: Bella Models
London: MiLK Curve
Germany: OKAY Models