For decades, the modelling industry has been dominated by girls who look like they’ve just spent a month in East Africa. Bronzed and bony, these were the inspiration for an entire generation of girls to starve themselves. But somewhere along the way, this sentiment began to change. Dove began hiring real women as models (including one lucky grandmother whose nude was proudly displayed in Times Square). The Tyra Banks Show turned a plus size model into a household name. And then there’s that episode of The Biggest Loser when one team lost just under 100 pounds and hostess Alison congratulated them, saying “you’ve just lost Nicole Ritchie”.
These days, plus size models are taking centre stage around the world. Wile some have already become big names, others are pushing their way into lockers and teenage bedrooms everywhere. Here are the top 10 plus size models to hit the media over the years.
10. Fluvia Lacerda
Brazil is well-known for its women, and Fluvia is a clear reminder of why, despite the fact that her homeland is not known for having plus size models. She’s appeared in everything from Playboy Brazil to Glamour, and represented numerous brands, such as K-Mart, Torrid, Takko Fashions, Catherines, Igigi, Eliza Parker, and Fashion Bug.
9. Robyn Lawley
Hailing from the western suburbs of Sydney, Robyn has made a lot of waves. She was the first plus size model to make the cover of Australian fashion magazine Madison, as well as the first to be shot for their edition of Vogue. She’s appeared on numerous covers, including Marie Claire, Vogue Italia, and Elle France. In 2012, she became the first plus size model to appear in a Ralph Lauren ad campaign
8. Maggie Brown
Born in Montana and raised in Kailua, Maggie made her debut after winning Tyra’s Thick and Sexy Top Model Contest on the Tyra Banks show in 2006. With her prize contract for Wihelmina Models, she has been named Igigi Model of the month, been featured in Bombshell Magazine, and done ads for big names such as Macy’s, ElegantPlus, and Mervyn’s. She has also been featured on television, most notably with her recurring appearances in the US version of How to Look good Naked.
7. Justine LeGault
Canada’s blonde bombshell is perhaps best known for appearing on the May 2013 cover of Elle Quebec, however, she is represented by the likes of Ford Toronto and Scoop Models. She has appeared in numerous French magazines and prefers to do most of her work in her native country.
6. Mariesther Venegas
After a 2010 Model Search for Faith 21, Californian Mariesther gained massive popularity, pulling in a landslide of clients such as Torrid, Leg Avenue, Domino Dollhouse, and Igigi. She’s also done shoots for several local Bay Area magazines. However, she is best known for something most other plus size models would pass on: In July 2012, she walked the streets of Berlin totally nude, which pleased more than just her client, Navabi.
5. Ashley Graham
Starting her career in 2000 at the tender age of 12, Ashley Graham’s claim to fame was a Lane Bryant commercial in which she was accused of showing “too much skin”. This meant that the ad would only be shown after eight PM, which led to even more interest. She has appeared in YM, Vogue, Latina, and Glamour, done numerous campaigns for Levi’s and Marina Renaldi, and her clientele includes Bloomingdale’s, Evans, Liz Claiborne Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Addition Elle. Ashley has also appeared in the films “Boys Klub” and “Gypsy Eyes”.
4. Mia Tyler
Daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steve Tyler and half-sister to Liv Tyler, Mia’s enjoyed careers in both modelling and acting. She has appeared in Vogue, Seventeen, Teen People, Mode, YM, Us, Jump, and Teen Magazines. In 2008, she released an autobiography, Creating Myself, and in February 2009, she released her own clothing line, Revolution 1228.
3. Lizzie Miller
After posing nude for a 2009 issue of Glamour Magazine, Lizzie Miller took one look at the photo of her stretch marks and spare tyre and felt embarrassed. Little did the 20 year old model know that her pictorial would spark an overwhelming media frenzy. She has worked for the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency with clients ranging from Vogue Italia to Macy’s The momentum begun by that single photo is still going strong, and she has become a major voice for positive body image and seeks to redefine beauty as represented by mainstream media.
2. Kate Dillon
Kate Dillon was one of the first plus size models. Early in her career she was constantly being sent home due to her weight, despite living almost exclusively on coffee and cigarettes. Eventually this led to a case of gastroenteritis. Afterwards, she regained her weight and became one of the top plus size models in the industry, being named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 2000. Despite having lost weight naturally in recent years, she continues to work with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Elizabeth.
1. Crystal Renn
Sometimes plus size models are the result of a second chance, and few are more obvious examples than Crystal Renn. At the age of 14, Crystal was an aspiring model who ran up against a barrier – the weight barrier. Told to lose almost a third of her body weight, she developed an eating disorder which eventually ended the very career which had caused them. Having taken a good look at herself, she gained 70 pounds and returned to the modelling industry. Since then, she has been the first plus size model to close out a runway show, and was the highest paid among her niche in 2012. She has also been the only one to be featured on all four international editions of Vogue and is a successful author. Crystal has worked for a variety of clients, including H&H, Chanel, Lane Bryant, Torrid, Saks Fifth avenue, and Nordstrom. She was also a model in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
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