American Vogue has broken ranks with mainstream magazines and featured a fashion spread with ‘plus-sized’ models. They haven’t just popped a larger woman in its pages and applauded itself for supporting ‘real bodies’, while leaving its fashion pages for the skinny models. This time the provocative images are all part of a lingerie spread and it’s stunning. The black and white images show women in all their glory.

The shoot, by photographer Cass Bird, feature women of all shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds in lingerie labels including Agent Provocateur and Lane Bryant. The models are members of body-positive coalition, ALDA. It was formed after Ford modeling agency closed its ‘plus-size’ division. Cass Bird shared some images on her Instagram feed,


Image by: Cass Bird. Source: Instagram.


Photo: Cass Bird. Source: Instagram.

It’s so wonderful to see where the skin folds under their arms and their tummies sit over their waistbands. And, shock horror, their thighs touch. It’s not all perfectly pert bottoms, concave bellies and photo-shopped skin. It’s real and voluptuous and super sexy. And it’s also wonderful to see hot lingerie for ample busts too. Do you know how hard it is to find gorgeous underwear when you’re 16 DD and above? It’s virtually impossible.

It’s a beautiful photo shoot with curves and boobs and sensuality. But here’s where I have to say something that perplexes me. Why is it that every time a magazine goes down the ‘plus-size’ and ‘we support real bodies and women of all shapes and sizes’ route that the women are pretty much always in the underwear? Why is it that they feel women have to take off their clothes and stand around in their knickers to prove a point?

I’ve flashed my belly before a couple of times to show what my post-baby belly looked like, but when a magazine recently asked me to strip down for a feature promoting positive body image I declined. I couldn’t see why I had to be in a sports bra and knickers – what’s wrong with a dress or jeans and a t-shirt? Instead, I offered up my words and they agreed to publish a commentary style piece about the pressure on new mums to lose body weight. It felt way more liberating knowing I’d voiced my thoughts about an important issue, rather than took my clothes off.

I’d really like to see editors just put women in the pages of their magazines in all the sections – from the front page to the back page – regardless of their size. I’d like to see them get away from making a strategic editorial decision to have ‘big girls in bras’ and get on with actually changing the way women are viewed in modern day media. They have the power in their hands to make real change, not just token steps for media exposure.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were editorials and comment pieces focusing on the fact women’s magazines have stories featuring women with ample brains, rather than continuing to focus on their bra size. Yes, let’s rejoice women’s bodies. Yes, let’s not fat shame nor encourage thinspiration and instead support positive body image. But surely there’s a time soon the fact a magazine put more ‘real women’ in underwear in their pages isn’t mainstream news.

How about magazines instead started to put more women in their pages who achieve something in the fields of science, politics, business, engineering, documentary making, writing, charitable endeavours, art, mothering, diplomacy, law and sport. And leave their clothes on.

Bianca x