The second layout from the V Size Issue this essay will discuss is an eight page photo feature that pitched plus-size model Crystal Renn against straight-size model Jacquelyn Jablonski in a side-by-side comparison of the models wearing the same outfit. The piece is titled, “One Size Fits All,” and plays on the idea that bright, fun, spring trends look great on just about any figure (V, 98). In each of the four shots both models are wearing the exact same outfit, styled identically with the same hair and makeup. They both pose similarly with the same basic stance and then each model varies it slightly. For example, in the first set of photos each model stands with her hands on her hips facing the camera straight on with knees bent and legs bowed outwards and leans forward on the tip toes of her platform Versace heels.
The interest in the spread comes from the difference in the way the models are photographed and therefore perceived by the reader and the public. Jablonski pulls her stomach in and hunches her shoulders. She strikes a very angular pose with her arms creating perfect ninety-degree angles where her elbow meets. This creates an emphasis on the thinness of her arms, in that they are long lean lines and the geometric shape enhances that aesthetic. Renn on the other hand brings her right arm against her body pushing the flesh from her arm next to the flesh of her upper chest. She pops her buttocks outward and bends her legs much wider and dips lower as if she is dancing and dropping her buttocks to the ground. The effect of her legs being both lower and spread more widely is not only incredibly sexualized which gives credence to the topic discussed earlier, but it also enhances the shapeliness of the thigh.
Another interesting aspect is that Jablonski is featured first in all the photos, her picture always appears on the left hand side and Renn’s photo follows Jablonski’s and appears on the right. In this way Renn is being compared to Jablonski and therefore critiqued in comparison to the first photo that has subconsciously set a certain skinny standard. Which could be considered a negative, but in the case of this particular layout, it is not. Because Jablonski is so thin the allure of Renn’s curves only make her figure more appealing to look at. She makes the clothes come alive with facial expressions and body language that Jablonski lacks. This is not to say that Jablonski is not a good model, she is. She shows the clothes very well on her body, but what Renn does is take the clothes a step further, she isn’t just selling the clothes, she’s selling the lifestyle, the fun you’ll have if you wear the clothes.
As a final closing point on plus-size versus straight-size models, I would like to address the difference in facial appearance between the two. Straight sized models have a reputation for not being conventionally beautiful. Currently the look high fashion designers are going for is very unapproachable eastern European looking models. It’s not necessarily about being beautiful, but more about looking interesting and edgy. This however is not the case with plus-size models. Conventionally plus-size models have embodied a girl next-door appearance. The goal is for them to be wholesome and all-American; to look relatable. Renn highlights this in her book saying that when she made the decision to cross over from a straight-size to plus-size model she thought back on the women she had so wanted to be like, the models she had emulated. “None of them were pretty-pretty. The ones I thought were the most beautiful were the ones who were a little strange-looking, a little gawky, a little too strong featured…models who were otherworldly, like stick insects and bug-eyed space aliens,” (Renn, 137).
Plus-size models on the other hand almost always have striking faces and luscious features. Their features embody the same fullness of their figures, they are the femme fatales of the modeling industry. Everything about them is to appear womanly. This is a graduation certainly from having to appear incredibly wholesome as was the practice when Renn crossed over, but it is still a facet of being pigeonholed.
All citations in this section hail from the V Size Issue and Renn's self-penned book hungry, image courtesy of the V Size Issue.