Plus Size Model Org Responsible For Diversifying Skinny Fashion Monopoly


The skinny fashion monopoly. For far too long it has dominated the industry, and has had some serious trickle-down effect over the years amongst young women. What are some of those effects you may be asking? Girls believing they need to look like a heavily-photoshopped image to be considered beautiful. Girls starving themselves and developing eating disorders because they don’t look like the size 0 models on the runways and advertising they see in magazines.

Models themselves eating nothing but cotton balls for days so that their appetites are curbed, and their bodies stay bone-thin, because their employment and livelihood depends on their physical appearance.

Over the past few years, thanks to social media and everyday people having a much more powerful voice than ever before, we have seen the dangerous trend of “heroine chic” (NOTHING chic about looking like a heroine junkie btw) slowly evolve to something more realistic. Because we now have access to all sorts of information, it is more commonly known that models in a photo don’t actually look like that in real life.

More and more women are speaking up against the unhealthy body trends forced upon consumers for the sake of making money, that plus size models have been given a platform like never before. But it is still a work in progress, and there are some majorly ingrained attitudes which look at curvy women’s bodies not as fashionable, but niche. As in, only a few people would rather look at a size 14 woman than the millions who want to look like a size 2.

In June 2013, Ford Models in New York closed their plus-size division, as well as their children’s and older women categories, to solely focus on their “straight size” models. The former head of the plus-size, Gary Dakin, started a new modeling agency called JAG Models which was created to represented women of all shapes and sizes.

The closure of the Ford division not only left the head out of a job, but many of its working models without representation. This included Ashley Graham, Danielle Redman, Inga Eiriksdottir, Julie Henderson, and Marquita Pring. The girls banded together to form a coalition called ALDA, which means “wave” in Icelandic. That name has now become synonymous with what this group are doing, creating a new wave in the fashion world, and paving the way for so many other plus size women.

“We did a lot of meetings, trying to figure out where we wanted to go with this. We all knew we wanted to make an impact and change the industry so there would be more curvy girls in everything,” said Inga Eiriksdottir to Yahoo Shine.

The idea was not only to find representation at another modeling agency, but also to join like-minded women together to power their way into high-paying and high-profile jobs typically reserved for models who wear a size 2 or smaller. Because in case the fashion world has forgotten, women sizes 4 and above also wear clothes…


“I just wanted to be considered a model, and I didn’t want to be labeled,” said ALDA member Marquita Pring to website DNAinfo. She has been a curvy girl model since she was 15. “I don’t see myself any differently from the other girls whether skinny or plus.”

In January 2014, all five girls approached IMG Models, the biggest modeling agency in the world who rep the likes of Gisele Bundchen. They said they saw IMG’s lack of traditional experience with plus-size models — who are generally size 10 and larger — as an advantage. The agency had no specific plus-size division and only one plus-size model at the time they joined.

IMG clearly were influenced by what these girls stood for and how they were changing the face of fashion, and made their own bold move before NY Fashion Week in February. IMG’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director Ivan Bart officially announced that the agency is now representing not just “straight sized” models.

“We want to be an ageless, raceless, weightless agency. We just want to represent the best people in the industry.” he said.

It was a big deal to announce that right before the biggest fashion event in the world, and it was also a powerful statement to the rest of the industry that this is the new trend they are setting, and to compete with IMG, other agencies now need to follow suit.

It turns out, these 5 women breaking down doors was one of the best things that ever happened to them, and in the industry!

“I have literally gone on more castings in five months then in the last 10 years of my career,” said Ashley Graham, 26, of Brooklyn, who has been dubbed a plus-size supermodel. She recently made headlines after being chosen as the cover girl for Elle Quebec.


“I have gotten a whole new realm of ‘everything is possible,'” ALDA member Julie Henderson said.

“There will come a time when we won’t be talking about plus-size verses straight-size, older versus younger,” said Becca Thorpe, who is the head of the plus size division at Muse Management in New York.

ALDA’s goal is to land their models in a mainstream fashion or beauty campaign with companies like L’Oreal or Pantene, coveted positions that have not yet been held by a plus-size model.

“Why don’t we have curvy girls in the hair campaigns — it’s about the hair?” said New York-based Danielle Redman.

If modeling agencies are starting to widen their gates and represent all different types of body sizes on their books, perhaps we will start to see a new kind of trickle-down effect, where designers, advertisers, publishers, photographers, and art directors will realize that diversity is the new black. All it takes is for one major designer to buck tradition and set a new trend for it to spread like wildfire.

“I think the job of modeling is to sell clothes, and there will always be a need for that. There will always be models. We need more size and race diversity in magazines to give women of all shapes and sizes something they can relate to more,” said Inga Eiriksdottir.


Ralph Lauren did this when he signed Australian model Robyn Lawley as the first ever plus size face of his clothing line. That opportunity pretty much made her a household name overnight, enabling her to work with many brands and magazines around the world. Because that’s what it is about: opportunity, and visibility.

People want to see themselves reflected in the media they see, and girls like the ALDA group are giving the industry no choice but to take part in the conversation.

Aside from creating opportunities for curvy models, the group have been doing charity work, raising $50,000 in May at a fundraiser for Komera, a Rwandan organization which helps provide resources and support for girls who want to attend school in the African country. The group also has plans to promote healthy self-esteem in girls everywhere through workshops, lectures and events, educating the masses on the new wave that’s about to blow the industry wide open.

Role models right here ladies. Brava!



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