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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • Do attempts to do away with term 'plus size model' marginalize the plus size consumer?

    An editorial image from PLUS Model magazine featuring size 16 model Jennifer Maitland.

    A fashion magazine editor says the industry’s recent attempts to do away with the term “plus size model” are a thinly-veiled attempt to marginalize plus size consumers.

    Madeline Jones, editor of  PLUS Model Magazine says recent industry developments have resulted in models losing significant amounts of weight in order to be accepted in the notoriously sizeist fashion industry.

    Shockingly, Jones says, models as small as sizes 6 and 8 are considered “plus size” in the fashion industry.

    “The plus size modeling industry was created when brands specializing in full figured fashion decided to market differently to plus size women,” Jones said. “By putting fuller models in ads and catalogs, the plus size consumer began to feel inspired about fashion and in turn spend more money.

    “In recent years the sizes of the models have been getting smaller, in part because they want to reach mainstream success. The customer is no longer responding to them or inspired by what they see.”

    And Jones is not taking the issue lightly. Taking to her magazine’s blog, she writes, “plus size brands cater to plus size women because we are in the majority and not in the minority.”

    PLUS model magazine

    Indeed, while the average American woman wears a size 14, Jones cites recent rumors that agencies are asking plus size models to lose weight if they want to be successful.

    So small are today’s “plus size” models that designers often require them to wear padding to fit clothes, which Jones says some call their “sumo suits.”

    Crystal Renn, the highest paid “plus size” model in the industry has been rumored to be as low as a size two, a claim her agency denies.

    Last year, model Marquita Pring told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that she was happy to be a plus size model who wore a size 16.

    But in an interview with New York magazine this week, she changed her tune, saying “we need to phase out the category ‘plus-size models’.”

    “I’m a model. I’m doing the same catalogue and editorial jobs as the ‘normal’ models,” she said.

    An editorial image from PLUS model magazine featuring size 16 model Stacey Hiett.

    But Jones says it has nothing to do with the model’s personal size preference or the models themselves and instead is simply about the consumer.

    “Modeling is not the reason why there is an industry, plus size clothing is the real reason why there is a thriving plus size modeling industry,” she said. “Brands and designers are trying to sell to us and capture our dollars, and if this means calling the models ‘plus’ then what is the problem with the word ‘plus’?

    Reps from Ford and Wilhelmina modeling agencies were not immediately available for comment Friday.

    What do you think? Should actual plus size models sell clothes to plus size consumers?

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