If you’re on Twitter, you’ll have no doubt heard about Calvin Klein labelling a beautiful and slender young woman as “plus-size” and “on the bigger side” last week. A horde of angry social media users took to Twitter to air their views on the situation, condemning both Calvin Klein and the fashion industry as a whole for labelling this beautiful young woman in such a way. And it’s appalling, right? Especially when you consider that the model is absolutely not what anybody would deem as being plus-sized. However, you may be a little less appalled if you dug just a little bit further and realised that, as are most things on the internet, the entire thing was blown entirely out of proportion (and not to mention taken way out of context). So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the facts, shall we?
Myla Dalbesio is a 27 year old, UK size 14 model who was recently included in a Calvin Klein campaign alongside other models, the rest of whom conformed to the extremely skinny prototype that is standard within the industry (although it should be noted that none of the models in the campaign look to be unhealthy). On landing the campaign, Dalbesio gave an interview to Elle magazine, in which she said ‘It’s kind of confusing because I’m a bigger girl. I’m not the biggest girl on the market but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls (Calvin Klein) has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating.’ It was these comments, juxtaposed in the magazine against pictures of Myla looking stunning (and slim), that sparked the Twitter backlash, with thousands of angry commentators directing their fury at Calvin Klein for apparently being the ones to label Myla as being ‘plus-sized.’
However, this, unfortunately is where the whole thing began to lose perspective. You see, the thing is, Calvin Klein never said that Myla Dalbesio was plus-sized. I mean, ignoring the fact that, technically, she is (in fashion terms), Calvin Klein never said that. Myla didn’t even say that. She just pointed out that she felt kind of insecure next to the smaller girls on the campaign (because hell, what girl wouldn’t feel a little insecure taking her clothes off in front of a bunch of waif-like supermodels?!). The fact that she followed these comments up by saying ‘It’s not like (Calvin Klein) released this campaign and were like, “Woah, look, there’s this plus-size girl in our campaign.” They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus-size girls.’
And so she hits the nail on the head.
NOBODY, apart from the outraged internet users, implied that Myla Dalbesio was anything but beautiful and slim. She referred to herself as being bigger than the other girls but that was because she IS bigger than the other girls. And that isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a fact. If I describe myself as being ‘bigger’ than a supermodel, then that doesn’t mean that I am not slim, or any less beautiful. It just means that, according to the scales, I weigh more than those girls. Because I do.
So why were we, the public, so quick to turn angry over Myla’s comments? I’ll tell you why. Because the very same Twitter users that condemned Calvin Klein for Myla’s ‘plus-size’ status, are the ones who equate the word ‘bigger,’ with ‘less attractive.’ They saw it as an insult that Myla was said (even in her own words) to be a ‘bigger girl.’ They got offended on her behalf. And why? Because they are the ones that see something negative in being big.
Let’s take a look at the positives: Myla Dalbesio, who is, by definition, a plus-size model, wasn’t plonked naked on a couch, covered in rubbish with her face covered on a catwalk like Alexander McQueen’s ‘token fat girl’ was, nor was she separated from the other models in any way. She has not been given the patronising label ‘curvy gal,’ neither has she been called more of a ‘real woman’ than the skinnier girls (because Dove just loves to skinny-shame – our writer Kat has already talked about the way that she is sometimes made to feel bad about her slim frame). She has, however, been included in a high-fashion campaign and is pleased that her career is advancing. It is progress that Myla Dalbesio hasn’t been set apart in some sort of token category for ‘big girls.’ She is included. And so she should be.
Hopefully, the day will come when women of every build can be included in mainstream fashion campaigns alongside skinny models rather than having to be content with Instagram fame and fringe campaigns. Hopefully. But until that day, why can’t we just celebrate the fact that a plus-size (because that is what she IS), model is being included alongside her skinny fashion sisters.