We asked fat girls if Pirelli’s plus size model is actually a good thing

Is the appearance of size 14 Candice Huffine in the 2015 Pirelli calendar a bold enough move for body diversity in fashion?


by Laura Silver |
Published on

It seems to come as great news that the legendary Pirelli Calendar, an annual posh wank of cars, money, exotic islands and beautiful women such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Miranda Kerr, has for the first time ever featured a plus size model in its 2015 edition. But is the presence of size 14 Candice Huffine among the traditionally thin models a positive symbol of diversity in luxury fashion, or a token inclusion of a not-even-that-fat girl?

Plus size writer Bethany Rutter, of Fatshion blog Arched Eyebrow, told us that ‘I do think including a plus-size woman in the calendar is a positive move because it feels like men expressing attraction to women who are anything other than very thin is still quite taboo’, but she’s quick to point out that the presentation of bigger women in fashion is as thorny a subject as that broken ol’ record at the other end of the spectrum about models being too thin. ‘I think it's naive to expect the rules to be any different for plus-size models than they are for thin models’, she says ‘The fashion industry revolves around aspiration, and in the Western world we have very clearly-defined markers of what aspirational beauty is’. She continues, ‘aspirational beauty sells clothes, so why would we expect them to behave in a way that wouldn't make them money?’. When it comes down to that financial bottle line, models such as Huffine, who are ‘acceptable fat’, as Rutter puts it, are the best we’re going to get.


Christina McDermott too, plus size writer of the blog, Little Red Courgette, agrees that throwing a voluptuous cat among the waif-like pigeons doesn’t necessarily deserve the praise Pirelli might like, saying ‘It’s great to see a plus sized woman in the Pirelli calendar, butI dislike the notion that fat women everywhere should stop what they're doing and give the fashion industry a round of applause for featuring larger women in their publications’. Like Rutter, she feels short changed by the limited representation of fat women in fashion - ‘and note the emphasis on the usage of 'plus sized' rather than 'fat'’, she points out – all cleaving-heaving and pin-up blow dries, but not much else. ‘If fashion wants to be really radical, it should show a size 24 woman styled like a Calvin Klein model (i.e. jeans, white cami top) rather than sticking her in an acceptable corset and clingy dress’ she suggests. But until that happens, she admits, ‘I will never fully feel that the fashion industry has embraced larger models until we see a more diverse range of plus sized models featured in publications or on the catwalk’.

This lack of diversity, Rutter suggests creates something of a vicious circle. ‘Plus-size models are always beacons of stylised femininity, almost universally styled around a 'retro' / 'pinup' look, which in turn becomes the aspirational look for fat girls’, she says. ‘So many plus size bloggers I know revolve around that look, and it's sort of self-perpetuating’. For McDermott, it jars that there is ‘a notion that we should 'embrace our womanly curves.'’ She says, ‘not every plus sized woman presents as being femme or wants to wear femme clothes’.

On the plus side, Rutter notes, Pirelli welcoming a larger woman into its heady frat is at least ‘edging towards the notion that thin women aren't the only attractive women’, but until we see her, Kate Moss and someone like Beth Ditto, complete with flesh rolls and a double chin, the move simply feels much like what McDermott describes as ‘the newest trend, which will get its moment in the spotlight before being discarded when the next new model trend comes along’.

Follow Laura Silver on Twitter @laurafleur

Picture: Steven Meisel

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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