How ‘Plus Size’ models are changing our understanding of beauty


It’s not about what size you wear; it’s about how you wear your size. For the longest time, the expectations of women’s size has always been something a bit unrealistic. But as Bob Dylan says, “The times are a-changing.”

Forget the skeletal, sickly girls who pass as fashion models these days. A true man knows that real beauty isn’t found in a size zero.

“I want to be HEALTHY, I don’t need to be SKINNY.” This statement has become a mantra for modern women come of late as the ‘skinny standards of the beauty era’ have began to fall to the way side due. A growing number of plus-size models are redefining what society considers beautiful, and the supermodels of today could soon find their jobs in other careers. Many of these plus-size models are relatively unknown, but they are hoping to change that. These healthy, full-sized hotties are riding the wave of public backlash against the walking coat hangers plying the runways, or as they claim.

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me that is the true essence of beauty,” says Reem Abdallah, 33 years, fashion designer.

“Skinny models give us the freedom to show our designs on almost a blank space, where we can imagine and implement freely though, curves can give more spirit to the design. It simulates the reality much better especially that we are working for the Arab region mainly. Not to mention that Americans and many others are considered in this plus size category now,” Reem explained, adding that regardless of the size, each design fits with special body structure and each body may look different by changing designs and colours.

Lebanese Nadia Abu Hassan has gained great fame around the world – her own blog which boasts 160,000 participants – for her contribution to the fashion world even though she might be seen as overweight. The Daily Telegraph reported that Nadia Abu Hassan obtained the title of ‘The over-weighted model’ and that she was selected as the sexiest plus size model by Complex Style magazine.

Abu Hassan refuses the ‘Model’ title and confirms that she’s just taking pictures of herself with the clothes she loves to wear every day. Abu Hassan said that some deem her a “fat girl”, but that doesn’t make her ashamed of her body. Instead, she is always shown confidently wearing tight dresses, which has drawn fashion experts’ attention and even led to her modeling for a number of clothing brands.


“Changing society’s view will not happen overnight, we are all responsible for helping to make this change. Embrace the uniqueness of you and appreciate your body. 50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.” Reem said.

“If we continue to ignore and rely on others to decide what we want to see, change will never happen. We have to be vocal and proactive, patient and realistic.”

She emphasized that no one should be encouraged to starve themselves or hate their bodies because they don’t match up to the unrealistic, photoshopped fictions that decorate our ads and tabloids.

“We would all do well to embrace a more realistic, natural, and positive attitude toward our bodies. I hope body-awareness campaigns help curvier women feel more accepted. I don’t like the label ‘plus size’ in general. Some women are curvier, some women are skinnier, some shorter, some taller. I think there’s beauty in all.”

Fashion designers, photographers and statistics have said enough to express their opinion, but what about guys! Coming across this topic about plus size models, this little discussion shows the type of judgment found in Egypt.

“Plus sexy has nothing to do with size or looks. It’s a way women can talk, walk, move, and so on. I have seen women who in the traditional sense would be considered good looking but lack any inclination of sexy. I would take a curvy sexy woman over the traditional hot women every time,” says Said A.Y., a 32-year-old pharmacist.

Hala Saeed, a 26-year-old communications analyst says, “I think it depends on the guy. He’s not worth it if he can’t get past the looks. Guys are very visual. However, a real man will take the time to get to know the girl and figure out if she’s real on the inside. Oddly enough, the pretty, skinny ones have their problems too. In the end, it really is what’s on the inside. It reminds me of the Shallow Hal movie!”

M. Ra’fat, a 40-year-old engineer, blames media on stereotyping people and putting unreal standards on everything, including human beings. Ra’fat even sees this as a kind of discrimination.

“There is nothing wrong with plus size women at all different guys like different things. A lot of people are also commercialised. They like what media tells them to like. You just need a strong man because skinny guys don’t know what to do with women like that. I want to tell every plus sized girl, don’t worry about what society likes, you are gorgeous the way you are. You are a queen in a world full of pawns,” says Ra’fat.

As things continue to change in the fashion industry, there’s a strong belief that the nonsensical expectations placed on women will only become more so diverse and real. In the meantime, here’s a plus size modelling fashion show in Egypt to show off the kind of beauty we have in this country.