10 #curvy models we want to see on the runway this fashion month
With each passing fashion week, the call for diversity and more inclusive (and realistic) body standards gets louder. In solidarity with movements like #droptheplus and #effyourbeautystandards, and as NYFW approaches, here's a shoutout to ten models...
Photography Frances Tulk-Hart
Full of shoots for magazines like Vogue and household-name brands like Levi's, Nebraskan babe Ashley Graham's career has been punctuated with turning points in "plus-size" modelling. She was part of the game-changing crew of women like Crystal Renn and Jennie Runk in Glamour's 2009 "These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size" editorial, and her ad for Swimsuits for All appeared in the usually sample-size-filled pages of Sports Illustrated earlier this year. Graham has also designed lingerie and spoken out about the industry in a TED talk and on NPR. She's said she wants to be the curvier Heidi Klum.
You might recognise Barbie from her friend Petra Collins's Instagram, where she's often spotted modelling one our favourite lines, Me and You. Just 18, Ferreira is a self-made bombshell and a feminist role model. She got her start by sending her own pictures to American Apparel when she became frustrated by not seeing anyone larger than a size 0 in their ads. If this refreshingly candid New Yorker - who has a Snapchat show in which she gets real with her followers - isn't an example of what the industry is missing, we don't know what is.
When LA-based model Tess Holliday signed with MiLK Model Management in January of this year, she became the first woman of her size to do so; she's since been referred to as the first size-22 supermodel. Holliday was also featured in the Simply Be beach-body response campaign, and was named one of the most influential curvy models in 2013 by Italian Vogue. But her uniqueness extends beyond her size: she has tattoo-covered arms, pin-up girl beauty and an all-round fierce vibe. Holliday calls herself a body-positivity activist and encourages the embrace of the term "fat." She also recently started an Instagram movement called Eff Your Beauty Standards -- how good would someone with that attitude be on the runways?
Yes, we want to see Philomena on the runway, but we also want to be her best friend. The London-born model is as brilliant as she is stunning, as we learned when we caught up with her in May. She studied International Health Management at Imperial, and she's staunchly unafraid to support causes when it comes to diversity, both in the modelling industry and beyond. When she's not busy with her charity, The Lily Project, or speaking out for healthcare reform, Kwao -- lucky for us -- steps onto the runway or in front of the camera. But we want to see her literally following in the footsteps of her hero, Liya Kebede, and walking the runways.
Another major voice on the no division front is New Yorker Candice Huffine, who frequently speaks about fashion's need to drop the barrier between straight and plus-size. She's succeeded at blurring that line several times in her impressive career, in her 2012 W spread and in editorials for V and Italian Vogue. But Huffine hasn't graced the runway enough -- something she discusses frankly. She told The Cut in 2012: "You saw Crystal [Renn] and Marquita [Pring] walk for Jean Paul Gaultier a few seasons ago, so I was like, 'Yes, here we go,' and then it didn't really pick up after that. So I don't know what it's going to take. Let it be known, we can walk, trust me."
The public turned its attention to Myla Dalbesio in 2014 when she starred in Calvin Klein's Perfectly Fit campaign. Dalbesio wore a US size 14 at the time, and though the brand never labeled her as plus-size -- taking a step in a more inclusive direction -- the photos ended up reigniting a much-needed discussion on body standards. Dalbesio rose above the fray, maintaining that she's just bigger than some girls but not the biggest, and kept moving forward. She does, after all, have a lot going on: in addition to modelling, Dalbesio is a visual and performance artist with two books under her belt.
Jocelyn Corona is only 18, so we're excited about the long career she has ahead of her. Corona is probably best known for being the face of this year's biggest body-standard backlash: she starred in Simply Be's response to those cringe-worthy Protein World Are You Beach Body Ready? ads. Since then, she's become a poster child for the campaign to change media messaging about women's bodies. Corona has also already hit the runway before. She walked in Brooklyn brand Chromat's autumn/winter 15 show in a daring deconstructed bustier.
Iris Monroe Bakker
With a mane of slightly wild wavy blonde hair, a gap-tooth smile, and a permanent expression of mischievous cool, Netherlands native Iris Monroe Bakker reminds us of fellow Dutch bombshell Lara Stone - but with her own very unique twist. A fun-loving energy seems to emanate from the pages of her editorials. Bakker has plenty of editorials to her name (including a Dutch Elle cover story), so her runway debut is long overdue.
NYC-based model Marquita Pring takes a strong stance on labels (one shared by many of the women on this list): she believes the whole "plus" or "curvy" question should be irrelevant. When fashion is truly evolved, she argues, it will perpetuate diversity to the extent that all models will just be models. Pring has been vocal about this since she first exploded onto the scene, walking Jean Paul Gaultier's spring/summer 11 runway, appearing in V magazine's size issue, and being featured on Italian Vogue's website. High fashion has already embraced Pring, but we want more!
Another member of the Chromat club, Denise Bidot became the first plus-sized Latina woman to walk in two "straight-size" shows at New York Fashion Week, in September 2014. She's also been the face of Copenhagen Fashion Week and has walked at London Fashion Week for plus-sized brand Evans. But like all of the models on this list, it would be even more significant to see her take over more straight-sized runways. Earlier this summer, Bidot also chose to go un-retouched in a campaign for Swimsuits for All, staking her claim as another strong role model.
Text Courtney Iseman