V magazine’s plus-size issue looking more exploitative than experimental

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V magazine certainly got its money’s worth in publicity this past month. Photo spreads from the publication’s January issue, which is devoted to plus-size models and comes out on Thursday, have been circulating for weeks now, sparking all manner of online chatter. My initial reaction to the issue -- having seen only one spread, featuring size-14 model Crystal Renn -- was cautious approval. But the more images I see from the issue, the less jazzed I am about how the hot-button subject was handled.

First, why are so many of the models naked? This seems to be commonplace in high-fashion mags that feature the occasional full-figured gal. The last time I saw Lily Donaldson and Karen Elson modeling, they were fully dressed. If there are no clothes featured in the images, it’s hardly a fashion spread.

Then there’s the issue of the super-plus-size model. Although the average American woman is a size 14, high-fashion mags love to blow the lid off the genre by lining up larger-than-plus models in their photo spreads (perhaps feeling it makes them edgier?). While it’s terrific that these sizes are being represented, it’s misleading to imply through sheer presence that the size range constitutes the majority of working plus-size models. Most successful plus models range from size 10 to 14.

And last, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who seems to live to make horrible comments like, ‘These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly,’ photographed plus-size burlesque star Miss Dirty Martini for the issue as though she were a Christmas tree -- wearing nothing but a pair of black tights and rose-shaped pasties. Nothing fashionable about that.

Ultimately, these over-the-top maneuvers come off as a mere publicity ploy -- a way to stir the pot, not embrace a new ideal.


What are your thoughts?

--Emili Vesilind


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