The plus-size controversy
WHEN the first sneak peak of madison’s March issue - featuring the gorgeous Robyn Lawley in her first Australian magazine cover - was published online this week, we came under rapid fire from some people who complained about the description of her as “plus-size”.
On our Facebook page, we got comments like “How the hell is she plus sized????” and “Whoever the f*** considers her plus size needs to open their eyes and stop being so judgemental. No wonder so many girls feel ugly and are so down on themselves.”
And another: “So if your skin doesn’t hang off your bones, you’re ‘plus sized’? She’d be size 10 at most. Why doesn’t the fashion industry start designing and modelling clothes in realistic sizes? They might sell way more that way, don’t you think??”
The vitriol dried up when Robyn personally responded to the comments, pointing out that she is in fact a size 14 to 16 and, in modelling terms, that is the definition plus-size.
In our interview with the 22-year-old inside the magazine, we do make the point that “statistically she is normal sized” in the real world. Furthermore, she is increasingly transcending any limitations of size, securing some of the most coveted jobs in the industry.
So like us, Robyn was happy that an Australian fashion magazine has chosen to put a bigger-than-sample-sized model on its cover.
“When a high-end magazine like madison magazine puts me on the cover it shows that there is change in the air and that a size 14-16 model can rock high fashion just the same as a size 6 model,” she says on Facebook.
Here’s another thing: Robyn does look stunning in our photo shoot. For those who complained she doesn’t look like an average woman, the answer is that’s because she’s not.
She’s a model, after all, which means her looks and height are exceptional. Her features are striking, her face is symmetrical, her limbs are long and her body is in aesthetic proportion.
At 182cm tall, her curves will no doubt differ from someone who stands at 165cm, even if they wear the same size clothes.
It’s clearly unfair to criticise her on this basis, just as it would be to complain any other type of role model wasn’t a carbon copy of an average person.
And we’d be the first to accept that Robyn is not overweight – she is healthy. She eats well, she exercises and she doesn’t waste time obsessing over body image. These are surely all positive attributes.
What Robyn is doing, importantly for all women in out society, is forcing change by breaking down sizeist boundaries in the fashion industry and broadening definitions of beauty.
She’s a true crusader on this front and isn’t afraid to speak her mind in that admirably direct Australian way. And it can’t always be easy to do that in an industry where most other women are smaller than you and the vast majority of clothes are made for them.
Furthermore, there was a time when Robyn worked as a so-called “straight size” skinny model. If she hadn’t realised this was unhealthy and quit, she could still be doing this today.
Instead she’s out there doing something far more important: celebrating her curves, providing a healthy alternative role model to young women and revolutionising the fashion industry.
Finally, to those who complained on the back of this cover about some fashion designers not designing and making clothes in realistic sizes, Robyn is fighting this battle too.
“It’s infuriating,” she says in our interview. “The fact that some don’t go up to my size – and it’s the national average – is a slap in the face.”
So it’s no wonder we feel proud to be the first Australian magazine to put the inspirational Robyn Lawley on our cover.
And we shouldn’t have to apologise for that.