““What is big enough?” she asks. “Big enough to us at Bella is if you are within your healthy weight range for your height and bone structure, that’s big enough. You shouldn’t be above that. With size 22 models, the garments don’t fit right. And it’s not healthy. I’ve not yet met a woman who is a size 22 who is healthy. Of course, there are also a lot of girls who are far too thin”.”
The quote above is from Chelsea Bonner, the manager of Bella Model Management, from an article by noted fashion blogger Patty Huntington, on the recent success of Bella Model’s Robyn Lawley.
Infuriating. As if discrimination in the straight sized fashion industry weren’t enough, we have to contend with these attitudes from people who, in theory, should know better than to make judgements based on size. The ‘fun’ way people get around making the judgement in the industry these days is to claim concern about your health. O rly? So why don’t straight sizes face the same scrutiny, based on inactivity, food, lifestyle, addiction, etc?
Its quite simple: plus sizes are, by default, regarded as ugly. We have to justify why our fashion needs are valid, time and time again. I confronted Ms Bonner on her Facebook page and this was her answer:
“Hi Jodie, of course all women should have access to fashion! My comments were directly related to modelling and in the context of an entire conversation not just a sound bite! Great story on Robyn, and the use of curvy models in high fashion, which is what the focus should be on. One of our Fav style gurus Megan Moir Pardy is totally fabulous and really curvy!”
I groaned at the last sentence – its the equivalent of a white person saying, “I have a black friend” in an argument about racist behaviour. ie, Oh, tee hee, I know someone who is really fat, so I can’t possibly be discriminating against fat people!
And thanks once again to one of the original members of Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must B, Velvet d’Amour for her reaction to the story:
“You can easily be, “within your healthy weight range for your height and bone structure,” whilst smoking 8 packs of cigarettes a day, snorting coke, getting drunk on a daily basis. The expectation that plus size models need to uphold a statute of health whilst supermodels snort coke, and others literally die of anorexia whilst walking down the runway is absurd.
As to healthy and plus sized- Jillian (Camarena) Williams-Shot Put-2008 Olympian and Crystl Bustos-Softball- 200/2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and Cheryl Haworth-Weightlifting- 2000 Olympic Bronze Medalist, to name just a few.”
Update: Found this quote from an article in The Age newspaper in 2007 with Chelsea Bonner talking about plus sizes. I wonder what has changed in that time for her to make a statement like “size 22 are not healthy”?
“The only thing I can think of is that it’s not cool; that there’s some embarrassment about stocking plus sizes.
“We’re a very judgmental society that’s really confused about size. Slimness does not always equate to health … On the one hand we’re warning young girls about anorexia; on the other, mainstream retail is telling women that full-bodied figures are unacceptable.”