The ostensible beauty standards have been shaping the fashion industry and its outlook for decades. Over the course of time, these standards have undergone frequent scrutiny and adopted numerous changes that have significantly challenged the foundation of conventional beauty standards to a great extent. Now the idea of beauty is not confined to a fair complexion and an hourglass figure anymore, but has rather evolved to embrace a much broader meaning of beauty. 

However, conventional norms of the fashion world have been replaced with body positivity, and the rise of plus-size models in the fashion industry has redefined the ideas of beauty and fashion altogether. This is an attempt to delve into the interesting journey of plus-size models in the realm of fashion and to analyze their contribution towards creating a more diverse and inclusive fashion industry. 

The Dawn of Body Positivity 

For centuries, the fashion world was predominantly characterized by a narrow concept of beauty. Models who fit into a constrained standard of beauty and perfection- typically with slim, tall and fair skin were given preference in the fashion industry. Although the conventional outlook of beauty is still prevalent, the doors for accepting diverse forms of body types have been widening simultaneously. The emergence of plus-size models as dominant fashion icons reflects this revolutionary change. 


Size and body diversity have now become defining features within the fashion industry, with elegant plus-size models rocking the fashion runways, fashion magazine covers and ad campaigns. And the most amazing result of this alteration of fashion outlook is evident in real life as well. The scope for diverse representation of beauty championed by plus-size models has not only empowered every single lady with a plus-size figure but has also made a significant impact on the conventional idea of beauty. The regressive mindset of the society which judges plus-size figures as 'fat' is slowly but surely improving. From fashion to anime, plus-size body types have been reflecting an irresistible aura and the acceptance of body positivity has widened the scope of self-love for every other woman. 

The Evolution of Plus Size Modeling 

Although the triumph of plus-size models in the fashion world may appear as a relatively recent transformation, it actually started around a century ago. The roots of plus-size modelling can be traced back to 1920 when Julia Theresa Howe, a glamorous plus-size model, paved the way for the inclusiveness of size in fashion. However, until the end of the 20th century, plus-size modelling did not gain adequate momentum and recognition in the fashion industry.

Around the 1990s, a remarkable turning point in the fashion world was marked by Emme Aronson, who was the first plus-size model to be featured on the cover of a reputable fashion magazine. The seeds of the movement for body positivity and acceptance we witness now in the 21st century were sown by her pioneering victory which challenged predominant beauty standards and prepared the ramp for inclusive beauty ideals. The emergence of the 21st century witnessed the rise of Ashley Graham, another influential plus-size model, championing body positivity and size diversity. The essence of inclusiveness in fashion and the world, based on size and other standards of flawless beauty, has significantly changed the fashion scenario not only for those who want to pursue a career in this field but also for every other woman who ideally doesn't fit the conventional parameters of beauty. 

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusiveness 

The plus size models and modelling have significantly added value beyond the fashion industry. Their most remarkable contribution is setting the stage for the freedom of fashion and beauty from the regressively confined idea which states that without conforming to an ideally specific body type, one cannot be fit as a model. These awfully biased and discriminatory standards of beauty have manipulated people, especially women, for centuries. By questioning one's natural beauty and body shape, fashion and beauty norms have jointly given self-love a hard time. Now, glamour is highlighted and marked by the confidence and uniqueness of every individual, embracing a wide spectrum of shapes, sizes and complexions. 

The paradigm shift towards body diversity and acceptance has widened the scope for self-love to people who used to feel inadequate and marginalised for not being blessed with the ideal body shape. The enormous popularity of plus-size modelling has socially, psychologically and mentally empowered them by boosting their confidence and the feeling of being represented. Since the idea of fashion is now set free from the previous dogmatic bondages, it is sending an important message to everyone dealing with an inferiority complex of lower self-love that beauty has nothing to do with size, shape or skin tone. It’s all about the confidence that reflects their irresistible charm whether rocking the ramp of a fashion show or not. 

Champions of the Revolutionary Change 

The freedom of body positivity and inclusiveness the fashion industry now enjoys is the fruit of the collective contributions of several plus-size models who brought this revolutionary change with their success. Throughout their journey in the industry and society, they have faced and challenged the traditional notion of beauty and its parameters, preparing the stage for wider representation and inclusiveness in the world of fashion. While talking about the contribution of plus-size models in redefining fashion norms, not acknowledging the Indian models who played crucial roles in bringing about this change at the grassroots level would be extremely unfair. 

Shweta Pandita 

A plus size women wearing all black activewear co-ord set

Popular for spreading the message of body positivity among the Indian masses and beyond it, Shweta Pandita is a well-known Indian fashion model from Chandigarh. With an irresistible plus-size figure, she has been rocking the fashion game since a very young age. While society was busy cherishing the alleged standards of beauty and parameters of being a fashion icon, Shweta has been inspiring people to embrace and be obsessed with their unique bodies unapologetically. 

Akanksha Dhamija 

a plus size women wearing a brown activewear co-ord set

Rising fashion influencer Akanksha Dhamija is one of them who has remarkably contributed to plus size fashion genre exclusively for Indian women. Her offering towards shaping the norms of fashion rightfully deserves a mention, as Akanksha has not only fiercely waged war against the long-standing ideals of fashion and beauty but also with her work empowered full-figured women to go fashionable without caring about societal judgements. 

Jaanvi Omkar Hate 

A plus size women wearing a red co-ord set

For challenging beauty and fashion norms with her influential presence in the Indian fashion industry, former Mrs Asia International Jaanvi Omkar Hate is a popular figure in the body positivity movement in India. For having a uniquely busty figure, Jaanvi had to fight against the predominant fashion norms throughout her modelling and dancing career. However, with her flourishing success as a supermodel and fashion influencer, Jaanvi has been restlessly shattering the conventional fashion standards within and beyond India. And as a result, she has uplifted billions of individuals who could never love themselves adequately.   

Final Thought 

The role of plus-size models in reshaping the concept of fashion and beauty can never be exaggerated. The contribution of these immensely confident and captivating ladies has collectively brought down several predominantly discriminative fashion ideals. The enormous tide of body positivity and diversity that we now celebrate is the fruit of their endless struggle and advocacy for a flexible and free stage of fashion. Moreover, these elegant and graceful plus-size models have dedicated their lives to making us realise that our body is a uniquely wonderful treasure in all sizes and shapes and that real beauty lies in accepting and embracing uniqueness.  

March 05, 2024 — Hunnit