09.26.12 6:02 PM ET
Ralph Lauren Plus-Size Model Robyn Lawley: I’m Proud of My Body
I'm Robyn Lawley—a model, and a healthy size 12. I am tall and broad, and yet, within the fashion world, I am an anomaly. By industry standards I would only be able to model on the catwalks if I forced my body down to a size 0-2. Instead, I am "plus-size."
Recently, Lady Gaga has received a lot of attention and backlash over gaining some weight. Here is a popstar who is on a diet all year round—not just for a few weeks, but all year, year after year. She gets on stage and performs her heart out for hours on end, and yet she must not have an ounce of body fat on her. Why is this the societal norm? It seems that in order to succeed in the fame game, you must be a size 0.
Girls as young as 7 are starting to diet. Women all over the world seem to hate their bodies almost immediately after their birth. During my time in the plus modeling world, I've begun to realize the true danger of scrutinizing women's and men's bodies, both personally and across an entire industry. I myself felt guilt for years. (I can vividly remember my older, much smaller sister relentlessly taunting me over my "thunder thighs.") When an opportunity came for me to model, I thought, Finally. Now I can rid my body of the fat it possessed. I remember spending countless hours running; I remember saying no to dinner with friends; I remember purposely starving; I remember chasing an ideal that would never work for my body frame. I was 16 when this all happened. A teenage girl in an adult world.
We all need to wake up to the dangers of this mind-set—and it should start with the fashion industry. Manipulating young girls and boys into thinking they have to fit designer clothes, instead of designing the clothes that fit the person, is both outlandish and cruel. Don't these designers have mothers, daughters, sons, sisters? Don't they want to make people feel empowered and beautiful in their clothes? I know that's what I would want if I was a designer. When I finally embraced my true weight, and was accepted as a plus-size model, I remember feeling whole and complete. I was meant to be this size. My trainer said I was the first woman to come up to him and say, "I don't want to lose weight, I want to be strong and fast." Instead of spending hours lamenting over weight loss, I channeled all that energy into living my life to the fullest, day in and day out. What's so amazing about being a size 0 anyway? Is it because that person exhibits control in a hedonistic world? Or is it just a tool of manipulation against us? I am proud of my body, flaws and all.
I'm so glad Lady Gaga is calling attention to the issue and taking a stance. People are different. People's bodies are different. And beauty is found in that diversity. I stand behind her as an advocate for body acceptance, and I hope we can empower both women and men to accept their bodies and embrace happiness once they do.