‘Curve’ Modeling Eases Media Curse

Iskra Lawerence, curve model.

Iskra Lawerence, curve model.

By Caroline Bliss Duffy

I went on my first diet in 2nd grade.

Forget that fruit roll up, unless you want a big belly that other kids poke at and yell “Blubber!”

By age 13 I was playing soccer and taking kickboxing classes. And I hardly ate.

At 5’8” I weighed 123 lbs, but still felt “fat” — an obsession that continued until I was 16, when I started doing some modeling in the city. By then I was a “hefty” 132 lbs. My agency took me but said I should get down to 125 lbs if I wanted constant work.

After 3 weeks and 4 shoots I was done. I couldn’t get the idea that I was fat, and therefore unattractive, out of my head.

I quit soccer and kickboxing and gained weight and fell into depression…

… Until I discovered ‘curve’ modeling.

That’s when Calvin Klein launched an ad featuring a size 8 woman who was labeled, “plus size.” After investigating, I discovered many models — between size 6 and 16 — falling into the “curve” category.

I kept tabs on a few of my favorites, and slowly but surely my ideal of “beauty” began to change.

Curvy, funny, confident…

These girls worked their curves, they were funny, confident, and unapologetically themselves! Many of the models are vocal feminists. And almost all of them are anti-photoshop. Oh so refreshing, to see real women with stretch marks, cellulite, and thick thighs.

One of my favorites is Iskra Lawerence. She is size 14 and most known for the “Aerie Real” campaign. All of those photos are un-retouched and show off a real body!

Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham

Iskra is an active voice against trolls who spam her inbox with words like “obese,” “fat,” and “disgusting.”

These messages don’t just attack me. They attack anyone like me and anyone above my size.

Which just goes to show that if trolls are hating on someone as fab as her … Well, then who cares about trolls? Too busy trying to lift their sorry self-esteem by putting others down.

Nowadays ‘thick’ girls are coming into vogue with real models — and Ashley Graham, size 16, on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swim suit edition — expanding notions of what is beautiful.

The fact that a woman’s self-worth is so often tied to how closely she adheres to impossible body ideals is sad.

But at least “curve” modeling may help to diminish that media curse.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 31, 2016, in body image, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I agree with everything said in this blog. I hope more people start to think this way. Women are beautiful in all different sizes as long as we are healthy it shouldn’t matter. Ashley Graham has made a huge impact in the plus size modeling world and I think it’s awesome that more and more women are aspiring to be like her.

  2. The classic examples of the irrelevance of external forms and body types is Abraham Lincoln, Maya Angelou and Mahatma Gandhi. All these personages were denigrated for their appearance, yet the world acknowledges their place in history. While Einstein commented after meeting Gandhi that future generations would refuse to believe that such a great person ever lived and walked the earth, Churchill despised Gandhi as a ‘half-naked fakir clad in a loin cloth’. The fact remains that neither Lincoln, contemptuously referred to as ugly and a cobbler’s son, nor Maya nor Gandhi cared a damn for their detractors and went on to etch their presence in the hall of fame.

  3. I just can’t stand the self hatred that women and girls feel about their bodies. I am so glad I was raised with a foot out of the culture that shames women and by a mother that did everything she could to foster self belief and esteem. These women are beautiful! Why would we think otherwise?

    • Yay you! I wish the rest of us could say the same.

      It’s odd that what’s considered attract varies by culture to culture, and even decade by decade. People look back at their high school yearbooks when they thought “the look” looked attractive and think now that they look really weird. Shows the effect culture can have.

  4. The opposite is true in my case. I was always underweight and too tall, was called a pole and always stood last in the line in school assembly. Yet I always was proud of myself and could never be intimidated by scoffs around me. Ironically one of my friends with whom I would hang out was too short!! What matters eventually is our self-esteem in our own eyes.

  5. I think it’s good more so for Ashley Graham to be celebrated, because even though she’s probably a similar dress size as iskra. I’ve realized that women can have bigger dress sizes and the same, but bodies quite different, so misleading. I think it’s good for graham, because she’s curvy, but she has some extra to her waist and belly. So she’s sexy but more relatable to an average woman perhaps as that’s where women can feel insecure among other things. Like Iskra is a bigger size, but I’ve seen pictures. She has a small waist and abs almost, but she has a big ass, that’s shapely and pretty toned and big boobs. So true she doesn’t fit the ideals of like fashion models or victoria’s secret models who are skinny. But she already fits the cultural narrative for men of the sexually appealing body that men lust for. She’s got that like hourglass body with the big boobs, smaller waist, shapely hips, big ass that men culturally already love. Like she might look out of place in say victoria’s secret, but not out of place in a magazine like Maxim. So I think it says more when Graham is appreciate more so than Iskra, because her dress size is deceiving about her being a plus size or “bigger girl”, when she seems just a slim, but curvy in the breasts and hips woman instead.

  6. It is with hope that more views on beauty evolve, to take on a more healthy look, and love the quote “they were funny, confident, and unapologetically themselves” and that is real beauty.

  7. Yep Ashley Graham, I like that you used her as an example as I remember telling you about her. And her being on the sports illustrated swimsuit cover earlier this year.

  8. body shaming is wrong and it shouldn’t matter what somebody looks like it almost makes people self-conscious about how they look to others people often say that looks are superficial but when you can’t see I happen to agree with this but each to their own. I heard on the news today that children as young as 3 were commenting on how they felt they looked. Some children said they felt like they were fat and some children often were heard commenting that they felt ugly now ugly is not a word I would use to describe anything or anyone now I hope this doesn’t make you feel any different that anything I am saying here I don’t want it to be seen as making anybody feel worse or that I’m judging and if my comment was seen to be judgemental I will surely apologise

  9. Cheers to the curves, beauty and good health. 🙂 🙂

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