PLUS Model Magazine has sparked controversy with a new editorial spread featuring a plus size model posing alongside a skinny straight-size model in an effort to show how fashion magazines and advertisements promote unhealthy weight standards. One of the magazine's many claims is that runway models set unreasonable standards for women and classify as anorexic.
The spread includes startling pictures accompanied by shocking statistics on how models today present unreasonable body image standards.
Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23 percent less, one image reads.
Another claims that 50 percent of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.
The magazine says it seeks to encourage plus-size consumers to pressure retailers and advertisers to be more realistic in the products they produce. Plus size model, Katya Zharkova, 28, stars in the magazine's spread.
A blog post written by the magazine's editor-in-chief, Madeline Figueroa-Jones, offers tips on how consumers can promote change in the fashion industry.
Jones encourages consumers to support companies who market to appropriate body types and to support indie designers that are less likely to portray unhealthy body image standards. She also asks readers to use social networking to speak out against brands and designers or to offer opinions on clothing and the use of thin models, rather than healthier ones.
Small women cannot be marketed to with pictures of plus-size women, why are we expected to respond to pictures of small size 6 and 8 women? Jones asked readers.
When the modeling industry began, Jones explains, there was a larger range of body sizes with models sporting sizes 14 through 20. Today, however, advertisements portray rail-thin women.
The answer to the question is this: there is nothing wrong with our bodies. We are bombarded with weight-loss ads every single day, multiple times a day because it's a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the fear of being fat. Not everyone is meant to be skinny, our bodies are beautiful and we are not talking about health here because not every skinny person is healthy, explained Jones in the blog post entitled Plus Size Bodies, What is Wrong With Them Anyway?
Jones is very passionate about the spread and the images promoting a more reasonable body image standard. She told Fox411.com that when she first saw the images, shot by photographer Victoria Janashivili, she became very emotional.
I nearly cried, she told Fox411.com. The images were submitted to other mainstream magazines and while they loved what they were seeing, they would not publish them. When they came to me, there was no hesitation on my part. I knew this would be amazing for people to see and that if we added the correct statistics, the impact would be powerful.
This is not about healthy vs. non-healthy women, she continued in an interview with Fox411.com. Because if that was so, most of the models on the runway in New York and Paris would not be walking. Not eating for days at a time can't be healthy. But I don't see anyone proclaiming how unhealthy it is and yanking them off the runway and denying them fashion.
The magazine spread has been promoted a heated discussion. The initial blog post received over 300,000 hits when first published, Fox411.com reports, and the post on Facebook received more than 7,000 shares.
Many readers, however, disagree with Jones' message, arguing that larger bodies are unhealthy and should not be promoted by the fashion industry.
If this article is saying you should feel pretty at any size, fine, but don't tell me you're obese and healthy. We have a twisted sense of what healthy is in this country and an even more twisted sense of what people are allowed to say about it, one reader wrote in the comment section of the blog post.
Others believe the fashion industry needs to be more aware of the impact of their advertising campaigns.
Those making comments about plus size being a health issue have no place in this forum as that is not the issue here. The issue is that no one should be made to feel inferior because of what you look like, another reader, Karla R, replied.
Check out the full editorial spread of Katya Zharkova in PLUS Model Magazine for the images and statistics on models today.