While enjoying my Sunday morning scroll I came across an article ‘This Is For My Bullies: We Exclusively Meet Victoria’s Secret’s First Red Head Angel’ and nearly choked on my avocado toast. I am not trying to detract from the achievements of recent VS recruit, Alexina Graham. She is inexplicably beautiful and I’m sure she has worked incredibly hard to get to this point. I also have no doubt that she was picked on over the pigment of her hair. I too was bullied at school. My nickname was ‘Carrot Girl’, not because I shared in the auburn haired experience, but because apparently I walked as though I had a beta carotene rich vegetable stuck in a certain orifice. Kids are cruel, and much to the dismay of my ex-boyfriend, I can now confirm this is very much a physically improbable scenario, so who is laughing now? Oh. Still not me.
Whilst she may have once been Carrot Girl in an entirely different sentiment, Alexina has spent her adult life moving through the world as a supermodel. She looks like a carbon copy of her compatriots, give or take a few shades of Clairol. The world pleaded for diversity, Victoria’s Secret pretended to listen, and we got.. ginger locks. And the similarities between myself and Alexina do not begin and end with comparisons to carrots. I am a model also, but less Victoria’s Secret and more ‘you might spot me in your least favourite catalogue’ or in a milk commercial, even though I am lactose intolerant. I have seen the industry from the inside and while many of the girls are in good health, I have witnessed collapsing and the consumption of a couple of peaches over a multi-day shoot. I can also attest that in fashion if you aren’t a size 6 or 16, you’re likely to be told ‘you can’t sit with us’. It’s about time this attitude received a big shake up.
Enter model, Muay Thai enthusiast and all round bad-ass Mia Kang, who has coined the term ‘Street Size’ to cover the breadth of bodies in between Sample and Plus Size that historically haven’t been provided a place in agencies or the pages of magazines. After being scouted at 13, Kang entered into what was to become over a decade of eating disorders and anxiety. By age 27, after being asked to go on yet another liquid diet to slim down, she escaped the New York modelling scene and moved into a Thai fight camp, emerging after nine months with a body that more accurately represented her at her healthiest. Instead of shying away from the industry that almost broke her, at a size 12, Mia continues to break barriers of size expectations for models, shooting for Sports Illustrated, covering magazines and heading countless campaigns, whilst continuing to vocally advocate for diversity.
I wish I didn’t feel the need to flash my phone around to anyone who will pay attention whenever I come across advertising material featuring women like Mia who fit outside of the usual model mould, because this variety should be common place. In a world where podcasters and Instagram influencers are using vulnerability to pay the bills, where we kept up with the Kardashian’s more when they wore skirts over jeans and owned one vehicle at a time, when are brands going to embrace the fact that relatability generates revenue? We want to see women who look like us, and we come in all shapes and sizes. While size diversity is only one piece of the puzzle that is broader representation of women in media, it is an important one. Portraying women of differing sizes and proportions as glamourous, in beauty and high fashion or health and fitness encourages all of us that no matter our shape, we can be fashionable, fit, glamourous and beautiful, should we choose. There will always be a place for the traditional depiction of models with long limbs and chiselled features. You beautiful gazelles go on with your bad selves. We just want more. More than solely a sea of size 6 with an all too infrequent size 16 occasionally thrown in.
Carrot Girl, signing off.
How To Support Size Diversity In Media:
- Purchasing from brands that use a variety of different sized models.
- Positive reinforcement on social media when brands use diverse models.
- Supporting mould breaking models by increasing their following which can lead to more bookings.
- Encouraging any Street Size models or aspiring models you may know to keep pushing.