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V magazine's plus-size issue looking more exploitative than experimental

V magazine certainly got its money's worth in publicity this past month. Photo spreads from the publication's January issue, which is devoted to plus-size models and comes out on Thursday, have been circulating for weeks now, sparking all manner of online chatter. 

My initial reaction to the issue -- having seen only one spread, featuring size-14 model Crystal Renn -- was cautious approval. But the more images I see from the issue, the less jazzed I am about how the hot-button subject was handled.

First, why are so many of the models naked? This seems to be commonplace in high-fashion mags that feature the occasional full-figured gal. The last time I saw Lily Donaldson and Karen Elson modeling, they were fully dressed. If there are no clothes featured in the images, it's hardly a fashion spread.

Then there's the issue of the super-plus-size model. Although the average American woman is a size 14, high-fashion mags love to blow the lid off the genre by lining up larger-than-plus models in their photo spreads (perhaps feeling it makes them edgier?). While it's terrific that these sizes are being represented, it's misleading to imply through sheer presence that the size range constitutes the majority of working plus-size models. Most successful plus models range from size 10 to 14.

And last, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who seems to live to make horrible comments like, "These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly," photographed plus-size burlesque star Miss Dirty Martini for the issue as though she were a Christmas tree -- wearing nothing but a pair of black tights and rose-shaped pasties. Nothing fashionable about that. 

Ultimately, these over-the-top maneuvers come off as a mere publicity ploy -- a way to stir the pot, not embrace a new ideal.

What are your thoughts?

--Emili Vesilind

Photo credit: V magazine


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Photo: Burlesque star Miss Dirty Martini, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. Credit: V magazine.

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I agree. I am all for model equality, however this spread seems a bit obnoxious and 'out there' vs. high fashion. We all know how Lagerfield feels/felt about plus size women/models and now to shoot with a plus size burlesque star leaves me just plain old confused. I love what V magazine did with the spread, "One Size Fits All" with Crystal Renn. I just hope that plus models are actually looked at as models and not as a gimmick or the flavor of the month.

Talk about a reductive view.

I'll agree that this Lagerfeld spread is ridiculous. "Exploitative" is hardly applicable, though, as no one is being "exploited" in any of the spreads in the magazine.

But what's this about a supposed "super-plus-size model"? Hardly. The largest model in the entire issue is one single size 16, and she photographs like a 14 anyway. Just because many so-called plus-size models are 10-14 doesn't mean that the public likes it that way. In fact, most full-figured women are highly insulted by plus-size models are 10s or 12s. Fourteen is at least getting in the ballpark, and a 16 is finally reasonable. What's more, the size 14 and 16 models are actually the most attractive girls in the issue.

The only dismissable editorials are Crystal Renn's, because she doesn't look the least bit plus in it, and the one with the hotchpotch of punks and weirdoes. The Curves Ahead editorial was beautiful.

I abhor Karl Lagerfeld, he of the once fat but famous, glitterati. I am not quite sure why they've decided to move to the exact extreme of the extremely skinny models. It would be nice to see more Krystal Renn's, zaftig women and fewer, shall we say cattle in couture pasties. Renn is quite lovely, naked and clothed.


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