Let's say you're a model who, at age 22, finds her career at a standstill. Despite dieting and giving up tennis (because it adds muscle), you've gone from a size 2 to a 10 and can't find conventional modeling work. So, you transition to plus-size modeling and enjoy some success — until your agency shuts down its entire plus division. What would you do? Sure, you could probably find representation at another agency. Or, in the case of Inga Eiriksdottir, you could band together with your fellow plus models to storm the gates of straight-size fashion...and, in doing so, maybe even create a world where the idea of a plus-size model becomes obsolete.
DNAinfo reports that, following Ford Models' decision to shut down its New York plus-size division last summer, Eiriksdottir, along with fellow plus models Ashley Graham, Julie Henderson, Danielle Redman, and Marquita Pring, formed a collective called ALDA, which aims to represent "beauty overall — without divisions, boundaries, and most of all, IN ALL SIZES." The women state that they have no intention of abandoning the plus-size world but say their aim is to "explore opportunities without categories, labels, and limitations." The group also works with young women through workshops, lectures, and events to promote healthy self-esteem.
"Alda" means "wave" in Icelandic, and the women describe a coming sea change in the opportunities available to plus-size models. All of the members of ALDA have signed with IMG Models, which represents such straight-size superstars as Karlie and Gisele. And, DNAinfo reports that in recent months, agencies have begun sending their plus-size models for mainstream runway castings, magazine editorials, and ad campaigns — all jobs usually dominated by straight-size models. (And, it's worth mentioning that these models usually top out at a size 4.)
"I have literally gone on more castings in five months than in the last 10 years of my career," Graham stated. And, while she's the closest thing to a supermodel the plus-size modeling world has, Graham is landing major gigs — that was her on the cover of Elle Québec's June issue in a bikini, thank you very much.
Becca Thorpe, head of Muse Management's plus-size division, told DNAinfo she believes the barriers will continue to fall: "There will come a time when we won't be talking about plus-size versus straight-size, older versus younger," Thorpe said.
Opinions about the "plus-size" label are sharply divided. Some women feel it reinforces barriers between the straight- and plus-size worlds, while others find the term empowering. Wherever you stand, it's worth thinking about what the fashion world would look like if true body diversity existed. We're picturing a place where high-paying, high-profile jobs go to women of all measurements, not just the size 2s; where average-and-above-size women don't have to lobby brands to make stylish clothes; and where sample sizes are made to fit the models and not the other way around. If we cast them, will they come? (DNAInfo)