When I first heard that Aussie top model Robyn Lawley was featured in this year’s famous Sports Illustrated swimwear issue, I was really excited. But when I saw that nearly every article about it called her the first ‘plus size model’ to be featured in the magazine, my excitement turned into frustration, especially after seeing the actual pictures that made it into the issue.
Here’s the thing: It is no secret that Robyn Lawley is curvier than the average fashion model and while it is great that she is as successful as she is in a world of size 0 models, the problem is the fact that a fit, healthy woman that is 183cm tall and wears a size 10-12 is called “plus-size”. Not only is Robyn Lawley’s weight perfectly normal and healthy for a woman her height, but she also looks fit and slim in the pictures that made it into the Sports Illustrated issue. Her stomach is flat, her arms are toned, she even has a visible thigh gap! There are no bulges in sight whatsoever.
So I am asking this: What kind of message is sent to young, impressionable girls if we call a beautiful, fit woman with a perfect bikini body ‘plus sized’? We are basically telling them that you have to be a size 6-8 in order to be “normal sized”, and if you want to be called skinny, good luck, you have to fit in sizes that belong in the children’s section. It’s a beauty standard that is hard to achieve and maintain if you are over the age of 13.
Robyn Lawley herself has said that she finds it “ludicrous” to be called plus-sized and that the Sports Illustrated team has never referred to her as that. So, as so often, it comes down to the media labelling someone in a way they shouldn’t. Robyn Lawley isn’t the only one struggling with the category ‘plus size’. Model Myla Dalbesio experienced the same media coverage when she starred in a Calvin Klein underwear campaign last year, now she writes about her experiences in her own column here.
It’s time that we stop labelling models as too skinny, too fat, plus size, normal size, and focus on beauty regardless of numbers on scales.
images via si.com