Plus-sized models are on the rise. Some are already famous and some are still in the making, but most are from the west. I am a plus-size girl and an Asian and I want an Asian model to represent girls like me.
I am a big girl and I have been told that a lot. I have been body shamed a few times and told blatantly that I am too big. I had breakdowns because of the body shaming. If at the time I had seen representation with an Asian plus-size model, maybe I could have stood up for myself and said that being big is okay.
My body shaming experience, that still affects me even to this day, happened at school. One time, I wanted to go to the canteen to meet my friends. Then this person stopped me in the hallway and said to me, “You can’t eat anymore, you’re too fat.” I remembered crying under the shower when I came back from school because I knew how powerless I was to complain of what that person said to me.
I remember looking in the mirror after showering and wishing my reflection could change into this skinny, tall and fair skinned girl that everybody adored. I too remember wishing I could be anorexic, and the lack of representation can be immensely detrimental to young girls who are seen as falling outside the norm.
In recent years, there’s been a massive increase in plus-size representation within the modeling industry, and are carving a path for a new kind of modeling, but the representation of Asia still isn’t there. Here are the plus-size models that I will always look up to.
The plus-size supermodel, Ashley Graham. This amazing supermodel has been on the cover for fashion magazines, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. She was also one of the judges of America’s Next Top Model cycle 23 and 24.
My new favorite and one of the top three of America’s Next Top Model cycle 24, Khrystyana Kazakova. Aside from her achievement on making it to the top three of ANTM, I later discovered, after following her on Instagram, about her body positive project called The Real Catwalk. On her project she allows every people of every shape and color to join.
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And the first curvy model I looked up to, Barbie Ferreira. She has modeled for several fashion brands, like Asos and Adidas. I first discovered her when I was trying to boost my confidence by looking to some plus-size models on YouTube and I found Teen Vogue’s video that inspired me a lot and made me follow Barbie on Instagram right after watching it.
These beautiful models that I look up to all have something in common. They are from the West, and have highly westernised features. Now I’m not saying that they need to stop, no, in fact, we need plus-size models all around the world. Yet in Asia, there is still little room in the modeling industry for plus-size models.
Asia’s female beauty standards aren’t for girls like me. The standards declared that we have to have a skinny body, long jet black hair and fair skinned. I am not like that. I have big thighs, no thigh gap, body rolls, my hair is wavy and my skin is tan for I never shielded myself from the sun. This creates a toxic environment for me and other girls who look like me, because we don’t conform to the traditional beauty standard.
Asia’s Next Top Model may be making huge steps forward, breaking the skin color standards on their contestants, yet the show still has a lot to live up to compared with its American counterpart, America’s Next Top Model Cycle 24, which has broken the age and size limit. ASNTM have just started their new cycle and even though the contestants look so amazing with the diversity of their skin color and their home countries, I was hoping they would break the size limit.
I wish sometime in the future, we will have more diverse Asian models; diverse by size, skin color and ethnicity for girls like me to look up to. Someone to make us think that we don’t have to undergo extreme changes so that the beauty standard applies to us because changing ourselves for a beauty standard is ridiculous and unhealthy.
Because beauty is beauty by any shape, color and ethnicity.
Photo via Burst by Shopify.