MSU Students Applaud Ralph Lauren’s Decision to Hire Model
By: Brytanie Killebrew
In a sample of MSU female students, most are backing designer Ralph Lauren’s recent decision to hire their first plus-sized model in the company’s history.
The 6-foot-2, 23-year-old, Australian-born beauty, and new face of the American designer’s ad campaign shot earlier this year, Robyn Lawley has taken the fashion world by storm.
Although she has landed the covers of Vogue Italia and French Elle, it’s not her beauty that’s making headlines. According to MSU students, it’s her curvy, size 12 figure.
And in the opinions of some, that may be a strategic characteristic.
Lauren Dale, co-editor-in-chief of VIM magazine, a student-run fashion magazine at MSU, said designers choose models based on their design aesthetic.
“Designers like Ralph Lauren have an all-American aesthetic in mind,” said Dale. “So perhaps incorporating a model that has the all-American look, whether that is plus-sized or a thinner frame, if that’s his vision, he is going to put it on plus-sized [models],”
In regards to designers choosing models that are not plus-sized, Diana Douglas, fellow co-editor-in-chief of VIM magazine, believes it comes down to one thing: the clothes.
“Clothes look better on a taller and slender women,” Douglas said. “Designers want to represent their clothes in the way they look best.”
Douglas said that, due to negative media coverage, people have the misconception that designers are saying women have to be model thin. On the contrary.
“They’re not trying to say, ‘you have to be this woman.’ And I think that lot of the time that’s what [the] media makes it sound like,” she said.
And although it sends an unhealthy message to young women, Douglas said designers sometimes do “take it too far.”
“You look at a model on the runway and she looks like she’s about to collapse… sometimes [designers] take it to that extreme,” she said. “Being healthy is what it is all about.”
One MSU student in particular feels that in a society where social media’s negative message of health and beauty are so strongly reinforced, people are led to believe that the two are one-dimensional.
“Some people believe that you have to be thin if you want to be healthy, or it’s not attractive to be overweight,” said Katie Begley, student health advocate of Spartan Body Pride. “It’s hard to get through to some people.”
Spartan Body Pride is an organization affiliated with MSU’s student health center. They are a group of students that promote alternative ideas to the social media’s portrayal of beauty.
In Begley’s opinion of the Ralph Lauren issue, she doesn’t understand why the decision has drawn so much attention by the media.
“I think it’s great that they’re hiring larger models, but the all of the focus on it just threw me off a little bit,” said Begley. ”Do you need to have all of that [press] because she’s a size 12?”
In both Begley and Lawley’s opinion, size 12 is the average size of an American woman.
And when it comes to sizes, Lawley believes that she is “what most women look like.”
“That’s generally the average [size] of American [women], a size 12, so that’s my size,” Lawley said in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America.
MSU pre-med and neuroscience student Rachel Conklin also said she believes that a size 12 is within the range of the average American women and views the subject of body image from a “medical perspective.”
“Especially going into the medical field, there is a lot to do with public health,” she said.
Conklin said she supports Ralph Lauren’s decision and hopes it sparks change in fashion industry.
“I think that’s a great decision,” she said. “I’ve thought for a while that companies should start making [ad campaigns] more realistic.”
Her reason being, it’s for the better of young girls.
“At this point, they are already getting pressured from an incredibly young age with a Barbie doll to grow up and look a certain way,” Conklin said.
Conklin also believes that it is a “smart business move on Ralph Lauren’s part.”
“To me, a plus-size model isn’t even a large women. It doesn’t mean your fat. I think a lot more people will find that ad campaign more relatable,” she said.
Both Lawley and Ralph Lauren representatives did not respond to requests to comment.