The first-ever “plus size” winner of “America’s Next Top Model” had a lot to say about modeling when my friend Sunny Gold (creator of the incredibly awesome HealthyGirl.org) interviewed her last week.
I think [airbrushing] even sets up unrealistic expectations for yourself. When I see myself on a billboard in Times Square and I’m looking at my face and your ego gets really big and you’re walking down the street and I don’t look like that. I have sun spots, I’m getting wrinkles, I’m 23 and I’m from Florida, so I age and you don’t see that in pictures.
Kinda fascinating to hear an airbrushed beauty admit that even she has a hard time separating fact from fiction. And also:
[…] when I was in the airport flying back home somebody came up to me and said, I work for “America’s Next Top Model,” do you want to try out? They said I would be considered plus size. Because of my experiences I was like, “Oh yeah, I’d love that.” Instead of thinking, “Oh no, I’m plus size,” I was thinking, “This is awesome, I could do something with this.”
Which really interested me, because I hate how the phrase “plus size” segregates women — but I guess I can see how, after Whitney quit modeling when she was a teenager because her hips were always one inch too big, the plus size thing would have seemed like a way to do it and still be herself.
Although then she adds:
The thing is that we let the fashion industry define what beauty is and then we’re putting our money into their pockets, and so we are fueling this. It’s not all their fault, we are equally as responsible. […] I’d love to introduce myself to people as a model, [but] if I do that, they look me up and down and go Really? And so I have to say I’m a plus size model. […] I think we have to be smart about it: Great, I applaud Vogue for having a shape issue, but screw Vogue for not having shapes in every issue.
So yeah, with the segregation and all of us having this one set-in-stone notion of what a model should look like.
More of this entirely excellent interview over on Huffington Post. Don’t miss the parts where Whitney talks about how you can make a difference on all of this, by deciding not to support brands (of clothing, magazines, what have you) that only feature unhealthy models and writing letters.
You can also tell your Congressperson to support the Healthy Media for Youth Act, just introduced in the Senate, thanks to the Girl Scouts — for more, read my interview with key Girl Scout lobbyist Clare Bresnahan, over here on Lemondrop.