The outrage was entirely appropriate and utterly justified
labeled its women’s plus-size Halloween costume section as for “Fat Girls”
last month. On the other end of the weight spectrum, but equally horrifying,
has been a trend in recent years to cast skeleton-like models, as Stella
McCartney has done, or those with concave bellies, like when Lady
Gaga posed for V magazine. It seems the fashion and retail industries have
a difficult time finding a balance between how to showcase and represent
clothing for women who are bigger than size 2 and smaller than a size 24, which is
to say: many, many women. If the women are too thin, the message is irresponsible,
but if they’re too large, it’s shameful.
Calvin Klein has never been a paragon of positive body images,
having made Kate Moss a household name in the '90s with her “heroin chic,”
painfully thin ad campaigns. It seems, however, that they have heard the call
that too thin does not necessarily equal everything that’s right and good. That
may be why Myla Dalbesio, who is a size 10, is one of their newest faces (and
bodies). She’s not a size 14, which Yahoo
says is the size of an average woman, but she’s not a size 0, either.
Dalbesio stars in Calvin Klein’s “Perfectly Fit” campaign,
which seems, well, fitting. Her stomach goes out (just slightly, but still),
not in. She's trim, sexy and more familiar to many women’s reflections than those
who are shown with spaces between their thighs more massive than the Delaware
Water Gap and collar bones sharp enough to make Ginsu knives envious.
Isn’t she a decent start to changing the conversation of what we’re supposed to see as beautiful?
Somewhere along the way, though, someone mislabeled Dalbesio
as “plus size,” and the Internet freaked out. Twitter has been full of
characters declaring her casting as ridiculous and wondering how she could be
considered heavier by any standard. “This is not ‘plus size,’ Calvin Klein.
She’s model size. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous,” said one person on
Here’s the thing, though: Calvin Klein never called Dalbesio
plus size. The
New York Times says that misperception came from Dalbesio herself, who gave
an interview in Elle
magazine, wherein she called herself “bigger,” with Elle declaring her an
“in-between” model in the article’s headline.
But coming on the heels of Victoria’s Secret taking it on
the chin for titling their newest campaign, “The Perfect Body,” which used only
pin-thin women to model the bras and panties — and soon thereafter
renaming it “Body by Body,” although keeping the models the same, why is anyone
getting their knickers all twisted over Calvin Klein using a larger model? Wasn’t
that the goal?
Dalbesio isn’t about to become a Lane Bryant spokeswoman,
but it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll be strapping on a pair of wings, either.
Isn’t she a decent start to changing the conversation of what we’re supposed to
see as beautiful?
While maybe no one should rest until women of all shapes and
sizes are represented at all times and by all brands (although that’s doubtful),
it seems counterintuitive to jump at the throat of a high-profile fashion house
that has made steps towards trying to showcase women (or at least a woman) of larger sizes. For an
industry that gets a lot of flack for a lack of fat, instead of continuing to nitpick
how little they’re changing, wouldn’t it be better, instead, to applaud them
for picking someone who’s not as little?