V Magazine Cover Battle Misleads Plus Size Debate

V Magazine Cover 2010

V Magazine Cover 2010

V magazine just launched a size issue, trying to cash in on the national interest in American plus sized culture. Two covers were released to newsstands across America. One cover was titled “Little Lady” and featured A-list movie star Dakota Fanning. Fanning has been a household name for over 10 years and is best known from her roles in War of the Worlds ($592+ million worldwide gross), Man on Fire ($130+ million worldwide gross) and most recently the Twilight series. The “Big Love” cover featured Gabourey Sidibe, an unknown actress who starred in one limited release movie in 2009: Precious ($40 million to date).

These two competing covers will ultimately become a permanent fixture of the size-versus-beauty dialogue in America. It’s hard to understand why an unknown actress, so far from the shape of a working plus sized model was used on the V Magazine Cover. There are a number of other full-figured celebrities with more star power to better match Dakota Fanning.  For example: America Ferrera of the Ugly Betty Series and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Raven Symoné, Jordan Sparks, Kelly Clarkson, Queen Latifah and Crystal Renn, the most famous plus sized model in America. Additionally, big hair and lumpy clothing hid Fanning’s size zero frame, while the photographer chose to zoom in on Sidibe’s neck fat.

Does V Magazine want the “Big Love” cover to fail? Is this V Magazine’s social commentary on their distaste for all plus sized models in high fashion?  The Big Love cover instantly reminded me of Velvet D’Amour in 2006. D’Amour walked the runway in Paris for Jean-Paul Gaultier wearing unflattering lingerie. She was considerably older then the other models, a size 28 and 300 pounds – dramatically out of size range for working plus sized models that are a size 12 and weigh less then 170 pounds. I believe it was Gaultier’s response to Europe’s trend to eliminate dramatically thin models from the runway. D’Amour’s famed walk in Paris had many interpretations but I think it was the fashion industry’s way of saying “What would you have us use, obese housewives?”

Jacquelyn on the left Crystal on the right

The real question posed by the ‘Size Issue’ in V Magazine was finally addressed via the editorial with Crystal Renn and Jacquelyn Joablonski. They were photographed wearing the exact same clothing, posing in the exact same manner. This illustrated the REAL question “can we accept true plus sized models in the fashion culture?” The comments I have received from peers about this side-by-side editorial is that Renn looks fabulous – and so does Joablonski. There is room for both, and standards should be kept for plus sized models, just as they are kept for straight sized models.

V Magazine Crystal Renn Size Issue

V Magazine Crystal Renn Size Issue

I was involved in a similar social experiment in June of 2007. The Seattle Times, the biggest newspaper in the State of Washington did a “Size Issue” in the Gender “F” special section. They also released two covers with two different questions: “I Think I’m sexy. Do you?”  and “I Think I am Fat. Do you?” The people of Seattle were asked to vote.

Chandra Chase Seattle Times Size Issue

Chandra Chase Seattle Times Size Issue

The voting has since been disabled but the article states that 58% of people agree that I was sexy and 56% agreed that I was Fat. And the article further says “many readers suggested that fat and sexy aren’t mutually exclusive, and the model, Chandra Chase, projected confidence that contributed to her allure… There’s nothing more sexy in a woman (or a man) than self confidence… And it looks to me that this woman has it!”

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New Plus Sized Model: Tara Lynn

Tara Lynn, Plus Sized Model

Tara Lynn, Plus Sized Model

A few years ago I was working in Europe as a plus sized model. I first started in Portland at Ryan Artists and moved onto Heffner, who placed me in Munich, Germany. I always like to keep an eye out of new plus sized model and a picture of Tara Lynn came across my computer screen. I literally froze – she could be the most beautiful plus sized model I have ever seen.

I am secure in myself and can VERY EASY give compliments to other women. And, Miss. Lynn has it all. She is a Plus Model “to watch” I am sure she will be working at an international level – close to Ashley and Crystal by the end of 2010. GO TARA!

Entry #2 on Friday, March 26th.

Tara Lynn, Plus sized model Elle Magazine in FranceI posted the above entry in January, and I am happy to report Tara Lynn is living up to the comment I made only a few months ago as a plus sized model to “WATCH”. She has a spread in the new French Elle Magazine and its INCREDIBLE.

Tara Lynn in Elle Magazine in France

She has one of the biggest spreads I have ever seen for a plus sized model. The quality of the shoot rivals the work of Crystal Renn. Tara Lynn is here to stay.

I am happy to see a plus sized model accelerate to the top of the game that is not six feet tall and a size 8/10. This woman has a real pear shaped body, one very similar to my own when I was working in Europe. She is intoxicating.

Tara Lynn, Elle Spread in France

Young, Broke and Abroad: Experiencing the Birth of ‘Beauty Reborn’ in London

Beauty Reborn

Beauty Reborn - London's First Event

London, England – Body image…. We hear about it in the USA all the time, and abroad. It’s a constant issue among teens, and women everywhere. While recently in Spain, they have taken strides to dramatically decrease anorexic
women on the runways (thus eliminating 30% of the models who worked before the new law), the rest of the world has yet to follow suit. The issue popped up again, when “VELVET,” a size 28, (300 pound) plus sized model – which is out of the range for professional plus sized models- walked the runway for Jean-Paul Gauliter. Some call it a shameless publicity stunt and I
agree. The debate of women who are: too thin, just right, and too big will always be around. The real issue at hand is self-esteem; and low to nonexistent levels that exist now in our youth.

In London, they have taken a different step towards increasing the self esteem of their young women. I was lucky enough to be present at Beauty Reborn; the first beauty contest for women sized 16 to 26. Hosted and created by international plus sized model: Charlotte Coyles.

Beauty Reborn is the product of Charlotte’s vision to see women in London, over the size of a UK16 (USA 12/14), embrace their bodies and become stewards of positive body image for all women in the UK. With her clout as an international plus sized model, she compiled an impressive list of backers from  the event, including: designers Anna Scholz, Daniel Galvin, and Elena Miro, Benefit Cosmetics, and giants in the plus sized industry Marks and Spencer. Plus, top publications and UK based television helped Charolette to spread the message further then just the audience.

Beauty Reborn was held in Piccadilly Circus in London, at Café De Paris. Twelve amazing women were featured; all extremely intelligent, confident, beautiful, and ranged from a UK size 16 – 26. It was a marvel of London’s commitment to diversity, love, and individuality. There is so much more to London then Big Ben, the River Thames, and all the amazing history that surrounds you there.

2010 Plus Sized Swim Suits

Black Suit from Swim Suits for All

Black Suit from Swim Suits for All

This season I started looking for swim suits early because I will be heading to Belize with the girls in February. The first thing I noticed is that the majority of plus sized suits are either ugly floral or neon stripped. Also, I noticed this year is especially bad for the actual cut of plus sized swim suits. They all seem to be boxy and unflattering.

I ordered this Black Plus Size Swimdress (CO3003-08X-1717) on sale for $43.98 from Swim Suits for All. A fun company that uses a variety of plus sized model – yes, ones that are over a size 12! But, I am sad to report it didnt have a good fit. The breasts fall down and the mid section is loose – when it fits everywhere else. Plus, it cost me about $8.50 to return. I did not have the best experience. However, this is my first time ordering from Swim Suits for All.

Newport News Brown Suit

Newport News Brown Suit

Next I ordered this sexy looking Brown number from Newport-News Swim Shop online. I am pear shaped so swim dresses usually work the best for me.

It was priced right at $39.00, but it had to be the worst fit ever – in the history of swim suits. As a pear shape you expect the bottom to be tight and top to be loose – somehow it was opposite in my size 22. I sent it back for an exchange for the black swim dress- which I havent received yet.

Chandra Chase in Costa Rica

Chandra in her Favorite Swim Suit

MY GO TO SUIT IS BACK!

Okay, I love this suit so much that I literally wore it out. Here I am in Costa Rica with it on – I felt amazing and

confident in it – and I think it flatters my size 20 body as best as any suit could. I originally got it at Walmart, of all places. But I have only been able to find it again on Always For Me.

Always for Me Suit

Always for Me Suit

It runs $79 but is worth every penny!

The worst swim suits so far for the 2010 season have to be at Target. Which is sad, because I bought a good amount of tops for work from them last year. I tried on the pink suit, pictured to the left. If you can image it was more horrible then this!

Target Swim Suit

It was almost impossible to pull the super tight top over my hips, then the hips were cut too generous to fit…. it was hands down the worst cut, design and fit of any suit ever. All the suits at Target lacked enthusiasm and flair.

My Experiences in Plus Sized Modeling

Chandra Chase for Heffner Model Management

I just got a phone call from a friend and she asked “my daughter is thinking about going to this Powers Modeling Schools, she is interested, and very beautiful, her mother modeled for Nordstroms… What do you think?” Since I have been asked this question a MILLION times, I thought I would do a blog about my experiences.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MODELING SCHOOL.

If someone “made it” because of one, it was in because they would have made it regardless if they went there or not. More like, then went to it, got ripped off, but really had the talent, went to a normal agency and got picked up.

DO NOT TAKE PROFESSIONAL PICTURES OF YOURSELF BEFORE GOING TO AN AGENCY.

People think they need amazing shots before they step foot into an agency. NOT TRUE. I took pictures of me at my sister’s wedding. In fact, my “full body” shot was with all the other bridesmaids. They just want to make sure you don’t have one eye shut, have six chins or something of that hideous nature when a camera flashes on you.

On a shoot in the Canary Island for Momu

They make their decision based on your look in PERSON and in the pictures. Your look in person is MORE important. They need to make sure you have good skin, are the size you say you are, and that you are LEAST 5’7’’ before signing you. They know the photographers that will produce the “best look” of you – something they need to sell you to clients.

YES, YOU HAVE TO BE 5’7’’ or TALLER!

Unless you’re a celebrity like Eva Longoria, or have the hooks ups with an up-and-coming company, or have the PERFECT face for a personality style campaign, your career as a commercial model does not exist. Do not waste the agents time and yours.

TEST SHOOTS – THE ONLY REAL EXPENSE

Chandra Chase for Heffner

In my experience, I walked into the agency with pictures from my sister’s wedding. The agency was low on Plus Size models and the market needed them, so she took three polaroids of me and placed them on company letterhead and I starting working the very next week.

However, plus sized models only compete against very few other models, and if you want to become a straight size model, you must get a comp card done right away. This is the only real expense you should incur. I used a photographer recommended by the agency, but you can use any modeling photographer you like. The price should not exceed $400 for everything. Maybe a little more if the photographer is really outstanding.

The comp card layout and print production should run about $1/card. CLICK to visit Phoenix Media for online comp card printing (5.5×8.5 card stock, full color, both sides, matte)  for .70 a card, not including shipping. Let the agent choose your pictures from the shoot. They know what their clients are booking. Do not get emotionally attached to your photos (you may feel a certain shot is prettier/better), keep in mind your agent only gets paid if you get paid, and they KNOW the client. Trust them.

GO-SEES ARE GOOD

After your comp card is produced its time to meet the clients. Sometimes your agent can book appointments for you all in one day, sometimes they are staggered throughout the first month. Don’t be too pushy about getting all your appointments right away. Some clients wont see you unless they are casting. Expect to have a picture taken of you, by the client. Have your stance ready in your mind. There is nothing worst than meeting a client and being hesitant (lacking confidence) in your first pose.

BOOKING YOUR FIRST JOB

Be over prepared. In a bag, take your hair & makeup basics (your makeup artist may get in a car crash on the way in). Take three different shoe options (their stylist could have gotten the wrong size). Take a nude, white and black bra and a strapless bra & underwear. Take nylons & lotion. Bring a slimmer for dresses. Bring a hand towel! (you may break a sweat getting into a tight outfit, and you need to come out of that fitting room perfect).

NEVER FORGET THAT YOU ARE BEING JUDGED

Chandra for Kiyonna in LA

I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard the photographer, art director, makeup artists and stylist talking about who they liked and did not like. Everyone gets a say if you return or not. Always be on your best behavior, always get there at LEAST 15 mintues early, and always have a smile on your face.

GETTING PAID

Yes, you will be nickeled and dimed to death. Yes, it will be unfair. Yes, everyone, even the top models in the world, always somehow have to pay courier fees, online fees, and a mysterious Misc. fee. on top of the percentage the agency takes. You can respectfully inquire about them, but do not piss and moan. If you become high maintenance, they will “encourage” the client to go with this great “fresh face” newbie. You have to determine what its worth to you to work. I do not take bookings less than half days anymore. Its just not worth it to me, personally. Also, if you work overseas, expect at least SIX MONTHS before you get paid. If its for the Germans, maybe even longer!

EXPANDING YOUR LOOK

Chandra for Momu in Spain

The first agency you sign with is your principal agency or “mother” agency. Heffner is now my “mother” agency (I started at a smaller agency and moved on after my contract was up). The mother agency always take a cut (10%) of what other agencies book me for. There are good and bad issues around this. Bad: some agencies will not rep you as well as other, because they dont get the full cut. If a client is trying to decide between you and another model, where they get the full 20%, you will loose out every time. Agents really do have a lot of power in helping clients decide which model to use – so remember to always be on and dressed to impress when visiting your agent. Don’t forget to send your agents small holiday gifts, cards, etc.

When a secondary agency does book you, it can be directly with you or through your mother agency. Good: I like having heffner, because they are always someone I can call. I have a good relationship with my primary booker and I can call her if anything bad happens on the job, no matter what – even if its not their booking.

Chandra Chase

Heffner Comp Card - Chandra Chase

It is NOT taboo to get other agencies on your own. But, I would always, out of respect, speak to you primary agent about it first. Say, “I am getting the itch to travel, I would like to do it modeling if I could, I have heard ________ agency is good, can we send them my stuff?” One of the BEST PLUS MODELS IN THE WORLD (I love to brag about her) said to me: make a digital portfolio CD of your book, and always have a lot of copies ready, and when you hear about a good agency, send it off with a letter introducing yourself, with all your contact info and experience.

MODELING AGENCIES

If you are just starting out, I would go to an agency like Options Model Management in Portland or Seattle Model’s Guild (SMG) in Seattle. These agencies do work with a lot of the same clients as the Top Tier agencies, but its in a different capacity. OptionMM and SMG book a lot of the “smaller jobs”, typically the hourly and lower end jobs. For example, your first job may be one outfit at Fred Meyers. Which is PERFECT if you are just starting out. And, the clients know this and are more willing to help you learn, then expecting you to be great right off the bat.

Agencies like Heffner, Ford Plus, Willy Plus, Hugh Plus, LOOK, and Brigitte are Top Tier agencies; requiring twice the hourly rate, and can book LARGE jobs like a catalog shoot out of the country – on location. I can safely say, it would have been much harder, or even a NO, if I went to one of these top agencies right off the bat. To be a model here means you are a professional. Its important to get your feet wet with smaller clients and work your way up. HOWEVER, you can be “just that good” and walk into a large agency and BLOW THEM AWAY! More power to you, if you do!