What It Felt Like to Open a Melbourne Fashion Festival Show As a Plus-Sized Model
I only recently got back into modelling. Having done it as a tween, I quit after feeling disheartened by the industry and sure I’d never return. Now, here I am as a curve model ten years later, opening a Melbourne Fashion Festival runway.
Although I love being a model, and think it’s extremely important to represent diverse body types and remove the stigmas around size, I didn’t think I’d ever walk an Australian fashion runway.
Walking out into the State Library of Victoria, into a room full of fashion icons, fashion lovers, critics, designers, stylists and influencers, I felt proud to be showcasing beautiful clothes on a body you don’t often see on a runway.
It was Runway 4, presented by Marie Claire and held in the La Trobe Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria. It featured a contemporary line-up of some of Australia’s most elite designers, spotlighting sophistication, strength and beauty. Designers like Scanlan Theodore, Bassike, Lee Matthews and Oroton.
The theme of the show was ‘Women As Fashion’s Muse’, bringing together designers that exude powerful elegance, that are predominantly women and celebrate the woman’s body. Within this theme, the festival found room for two curve models; myself and one other.
In the fashion world, “plus-sized” or “curve” basically means any model that fits above a size 10, or shows diversity in their body type or shape. There are no specific requirements or regulations, and to be honest, sometimes it’s confusing as to why we aren’t referred to as simply models.
Regardless of the label, it’s extremely uncommon to see an above sample size model walking a runway, especially in Australia. In the runway world, curve or plus-sized models are almost nowhere to be seen unless they’re a featured supermodel or well-known influencer.
Sometimes you might catch a curve model shoved among the lineup, to tick the diversity box, but they’re barely ever the focus. I’ve personally never seen a curve model open an Australian fashion runway before. Ever.
It’s true that when it comes to size diversity, we’re still a bit behind, and that’s important to acknowledge, so that we can hopefully grow to represent all the diversity that we celebrate in culture, in fashion. Last week felt like a powerful step in the right direction.
It’s rare that you see plus-sized models walk a runway alongside sample size models. Curve models are often seen featured in a separate runway, a show that centres entirely around plus-sized bodies and designers that are known for their diversity. It’s not often – if ever – that you see a plus-sized model walking in Scanlan Theodore and Bassike, the two designers I was wearing in last week’s show.
These factors made me shaking-in-my-killer-heels kinda nervous, but the pay-off was huge. Walking as one with other models, being treated like a regular model, being fussed over, made to feel beautiful and walking out into that crowd of people and being seen as a model – it was truly a feeling I’ll never forget, and a moment that I hope young girls witness, and remember.
No matter what your body type, no matter how much your boobs jiggle or your hips sway when you walk, you’re beautiful and you can wear the goddamn clothes.
I think it’s easy to forget that ‘plus-sized’ is the majority of us. The average dress size of an Australian woman sits between a 12 and a 14. Designers make clothes that go past these sizes, they just aren’t often on display for the nation to see.
This was the first moment in my modelling career that I can say felt as though I was truly a part of the change. I felt like an integral part of the industry and movement towards diversity that I feel empowered by and exceptionally honoured to be able to talk about.