Plus-Size Advertising?

Time and time again, we hear the same old diatribes about size 0 models modelling clothing in advertisements, as opposed to using larger models who represent what women “actually” look like.

Here are a bunch of reasons why that is wrong:

The goal of advertising is not to try to realistically create everyday life, but to sell people things. That’s all advertising is—an effort to sell people things. Complaining that advertisements do not depict what “normal women” look like is like walking out of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and complaining that you do not have a better understand of how WWII went down. That wasn’t its goal—“Inglourious Basterds” is not a documentary, and a fashion ad isn’t portrait photography.

Given the two advertisements below, whose style would you prefer to emulate?




My guess is that you said the one on the top (Cara Delevingne). She simply looks better in the clothes—that is a fact. Plus sized model, Tara Lynn, is even quoted, saying that “It is hard to make clothes look great on big women.” Clothes drape nicely on tall, slender models. And if your goal (as an advertiser) is to showcase the clothing, you want to choose a tall, slender body to drape the clothes on. After all, designers put an immeasurable amount of time and money into their clothing lines, and, as artists, they deserve the opportunity to showcase their clothing in the best possible way in order to make sales. That is not to say that everyone needs to look like Cara Delevingne; first of all that is not even possible. She is a goddess. But there is value in knowing your body and being able to dress it. Therefore, it is important to be able to separate the models in the ads from your image of women in real life; they should be looked at as models—living mannequins on which to showcase clothing, and nothing more.

            The Onion recently released this article, entitled, “10 Photos of Plus-Size Models We Deserve a Pat on the Back for Running”:,34700/?ref=auto

Obviously, the article was written to satirize the nature of ad campaigns featuring plus sized models as an attack on the advertisements featuring slender models with the “ideal” body for fashion. Attacking those advertising campaigns is no different than attacking food advertisements for painting their food (in case you didn’t realize, none of the food that is photographed is actually edible by the time they’re through with it). However, people realize that the food is made to look nice in order to sell a cheeseburger, or a plate of ribs, not to recreate what that food looks like in real life.



Adams, R. (2013, Nov 11). Tara lynn, plus-size model: ‘it is hard to make clothes look great on big women’. Retrieved from

The Onion. (2013, Nov 26). 10 photos of plus-size models we deserve a pat on the back for running. Retrieved from,34700/?ref=auto

6 thoughts on “Plus-Size Advertising?

  1. LOVE this post! It is very insightful, and to be honest, I agree. While the fashion industry is one of the catalysts for body image issues, it is up to the designers to show how they would like to portray their clothing. The idea of a model being skinny mirrors the notion of a flawless mannequin. Essentially, they are using real life mannequins in shows. I do agree with your comparison post. While I think it’s great that plus sized models are being seen more and more, I do prefer to emulate my inner Cara Delevigne than the plus sized model.


  2. Even though these women are the kinds of models that make the majority of women want to work out and may cause body image issues, it does not mean that they need to stop portraying them. They are beautiful, and you make a good point, they showcase the clothing very well. Even if women do not look like the girl in the advertisement, they can buy the clothes and feel like they look that way. I think the majority of women know that they are beautiful despite their size, so these models should just stay what they are, an advertisement, not a reflection.


  3. It’s so important to remember that airbrushing is seriously becoming the norm in these types of ads. Like people have said before, as long as people know their own beauty that is what is important. It’s great that modeling is getting a little more accepting of all body types.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think your intro was absolutely great. Specifically the last sentence where you mention that these ads are not portrait photography just as much as the movie mentioned was not a documentary. I think you put that in perfect words.


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