Are plus size models too 'unhealthy' for the runway?

Bianca Soldani

Are plus size models too 'unhealthy' for the runway? It's the question on everyone's lips today after NSW's most prominent doctor warned that the increasing number of larger models could be glorifying obesity.

But when have catwalk models ever been looked up to as the pillar of health?

In fact, the industry is regularly criticised for employing gaunt and seriously underweight models (something which probably goes hand in hand with a culture of continually telling them to lose another inch off their hips).

Two plus size models on the Sports Illustrated runway last month. Photo: Getty

So are plus size models promoting unhealthy standards? And should anything be done about it?

Dr Brad Frankum, the president of Australia Medical Association NSW, tells the Daily Telegraph, “We don’t want anyone to feel ashamed or embarrassed by they way they look and everybody needs to wear clothes... but there is a difference between being confident in who you are and promoting a healthy weight message."

“It’s a difficult message but just like we don’t use cigarettes to promote products I don’t think we should have unhealthy weights promoting products.”

The modelling industry is finally becoming more diverse, is that a bad thing? Photo: Getty

His comments have sparked debate, with many on social media saying that plus-size models do look unhealthy, while others reason that they are “no more dangerous than the ridiculously thin models."

Taking a look at some of the models who have graced Australia's Fashion Week runways, it's hard not to agree.

The modelling industry is constantly being criticised for glorifying extremely thin bodies. Photo: Getty

One person on Twitter questioned where the representation is for models of a healthy body size, saying, “models are always super skinny or plus size, and thats great i'm glad we have both. but rarely are they in the middle, where many women are”.

It's important to also remember that being overweight doesn't necessarily mean you're unhealthy, just as being within a "healthy" weight range doesn't necessarily mean you lead a healthy lifestyle.

Or as plus size model Callie Thorpe puts it, "I'd like to take a bet that you too are unhealthy, perhaps you drink too much, smoke, sunbath with no sunscreen, get too little sleep.

“That also makes you unhealthy. But because my body 'looks unhealthy' I'm the one that is mocked, bullied, made an example of.”

Many plus size models like Callie, are part of a body positivity movement that aims to show young people that you don’t have to be wafer thin to feel confident and happy in your own skin.

Perhaps it's worth considering that diversity of every kind in the modelling industry may be doing more good than any "obese" models are doing harm. What do you think?

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