Last month, Vogue Italia featured three plus-size models, Robyn Lawley, Tara Lynn, and Candice Huffine, lounging astride the words “Belle Vere,” or beautiful truth–and these gorgeous healthy women aren’t your pseudo size-eight plus-sizers either: Lawley is a robust 14, Lynn a size 16, and Huffine a 12. Given that anorexia remains a severe problem in fashionland, and beyond, this is obvious cause for celebration, right? Well, no; evidently it’s not that simple. Even as many women we know, and bloggers we read, applauded editor Franca Sozzani’s breakout cover–Vogue Italia hasn’t featured plus-size (beyond a size eight) curves on a cover in 10 years–others had much more to say than just, “Bellisima.” (Our beloved Sartorialist Scott Schuman nothing but praised photographer Steven Meisel’s work, we should note before naming the naysayers.)
Lauren Caruso at Chicology got heavy: “I know I should be happy to see these women confidently posed on a major cover, but perhaps dedicating an entire issue to the matter is a slightly off-putting move by Sozzani, as it only draws attention to the fact that they’re different. When it’s no longer bizarre to see a plus-sized model posing next to Abbey Lee or even Lara…we’ll see some marker of progress.”
Astute Dodai Stewart, blogging for Jezebel, didn’t take the issue, well, lightly either, though in the end she gave Meisel’s cover two begrudging thumbs up; Stewart observed that these full-figured females appear, throughout much of their mag spread, in barely there lingerie, rather than high-fashion funky duds. Her big question: Don’t the plus-size beauties get to model hard-to-wear high fashion, too?
“Seems like we’re getting to a place where straight-size models are hired to wear clothes and plus-size models are hired to take them off,” wrote Stewart, who was also put off by the fact that many shots featured the voluptuous gals noshing on high-caloric treats, which portrays them as hefty-hipped, good eaters rather than objects of beauty and style, in her estimation. Again, different creatures from their thinner (generally food-prop-free) Vogue counterparts.
We think too much huff is being made of this glorious cover. The world of fashion is notoriously thin-biased, and if that’s changing, even glacially, even in stingy, dietetic little bite-size bits, we say something’s shifting for the better. Is a humanistic revolution afoot? Uh, perhaps not. It’s true that American Vogue typically features plus-size talent only in its annual shape issue, and Glamour has vowed to photograph more curves by the month, and we identify this happening only rarely; still, these petite changes represent an inspiring inch in the right direction. We predict more generous change coming. It’s encouraging to see curve-wielding, high-profile divas like Kim Kardashian, Queen Latifah, and Adele flourishing in their careers, shunning the obsessive dieting (so far as we know), and no doubt influencing young girls–and that we can name several celeb models of the plus-size variety is a new thing altogether. (Consider Emme (Melissa Aronson), Toccara Jones, and recovered anorexic Crystal Renn.)
Each marching step toward diversity in the (copycat) high fashion and entertainment realms will certainly lead to more. By the time our daughters, nieces and granddaughters are ready to consume their first Vogue–if it still exists in print–here’s hoping they consider the bodacious clothes first, the (somewhat) diverse array of model types wearing them second, and don’t give one wasted thought to the healthful stuffed sandwich they’re eating as they flip the glossy pages.