Golden Kaleidoscope: Body diversity, yes. Ethnic diversity, no?

Body diversity, yes. Ethnic diversity, no?

Plus Model Magazine's first ever "All Black" issue. Shot by Lucas Pictures
click here to read it here

When I heard Plus Model Mag was coming out with an all-black issue I was pleasantly surprised. However, I was not surprised when I heard there was some serious backlash and pushback. Growing up, I didn’t see many black women in fashion, especially not in plus size. Then I saw the beautiful Mia Amber in a major advertisement and I couldn't believe my eyes.  Here was someone with my skin tone and body shape who looked absolutely stunning and graceful. There was hope!

A response from Plus Model Magazine's Instagram, informing me of the push back the received for coming our with the "Black Issue"

The plus-size community is starting to get a lot of recognition. We've asked for better styles, and we got them. We wanted some of our favorite straight sized retailers to expand their sizes, and many have. When we are being discriminated against as a whole, we band together and make our voices heard. So, why is it that when we mention ethnic diversity—black women in particular—the industry gets silent?  I have goggled the term, black plus-size models, and the politically correct term, African American plus-size models, and the results are mediocre. You won't see a full page or more than two lines showing black plus-size models.  It is truly heart breaking. I know highly qualified models who want to give up because they don't feel these major companies see them as an asset. I know plenty who want to voice their opinion but don't because they feel they will be blacklisted. What is it about skin tone that bothers these major retailers and some consumers?  Obviously, we don't want to push black models down everyone's throats, but there needs to be a balance. Body diversity and ethnic diversity should go hand in hand. The fight should be pushed by all races. I am thankful for indie designers like Rue 107 and Nakimuli, as well as major retailers like, Ashley Stewart, and Fashion to Figure, who use all ethnicities in their advertisements. 

Madeline Jones, Editor-in-Chief of Plus Model Mag asked Liris Cross, "What message does it send to the customers when they do not visibly see African American Models? Liris Crosse states, "The message it sends is that you aren't really important, or take what I give you and be happy.

Thank you Liris for being so brave and speaking up for those that wanted to, but felt they couldn't. Your words have power, and I appreciate all you do for not only black plus-models but for the whole plus-size community. You rock!

Plus Models: Liris Crosse, Monique Robinson, Wyinnetka Aaron, Chearice Vaughn

Race, is a sensitive subject for many people of color. A lot of us don't want to offend anyone with our views. Or we assume people just don't care. When an issue doesn't effect you personally, it's hard to understand or relate to what's going on. Now, that we have addressed the lack of visible black models in the industry, what's the solution?  Madaline Jones and Liris Crosse both state the clients are the ones who make the decisions. They don't request black models, so the person booking models won't send them. Let's change that. I challenge some of these companies to request models of different races and use them in major campaigns and see how your consumers respond to it. I see it helping and not hindering your business. Consumers, write some of your favorite brands and tell them you want to see more ethnic diversity in their campaigns. If all women of shapes and sizes are truly beautiful, show that. 


  1. I think this conversation is good. Its important to discuss ethnicity and the impact that color and size have on major marketing campaigns in this industry. The black issue of PMM was a great idea that could have been executed in a more well thought out manner to insure that the editorials were of a higher caliber, the models were the best choices and their stories/challenges/goals were better communicated. Some say its the thought that counts, Im not so sure...PMM actually has direct communication with these brands and some of them even advertise. Maybe there should be a roundtable with execs from major brands? Ask them why they don't diversify their models? Id even argue that although people say that they wanna see color, systemically we have been conditioned to see certain images of beauty as superior, more beautiful, etc...Diversity in any industry is always a challenge. I know one thing for sure, people are talking about it.

  2. I think there is a good amount of black models out there now, but how often do you see an Asian face in the plus mag? :)

  3. Great post Essie! We have to do more to use our voices and buying power to increase color diversity!

  4. Sometimes I feel like some brands have a "Token" and that's all they use.

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  6. When have you ever seen a plus size Native American model either?

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