A size 16 model has revealed the hidden body pressures faced by plus-size catwalk stars.
Sonny Turner, 20, of Birmingham, has worked for brands including Asos and Primark and has strutted her stuff on the runway in London and New York.
She explained that while the rise of plus-size means there’s greater diversity in fashion, there are still ‘restraints’ placed on how they should look.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she said:
‘Even within the plus-size industry there’s still pressure to look a certain way, and a preference to be hourglass.
‘You can be fat but not too fat and you can be plus-size, but you’ve still got to have a flat stomach. It’s annoying because plus-size is supposed to mean being whatever size you are – but within that, there are still restraints.’
Sonny, who is represented by Milk Model Management, admitted there is also still a stigma attached to plus-size models, with some critics wrongly assuming they must be unfit.
‘I’ve still got to be cautious and watch what I eat, and I still have to go to the gym,’ she said. ‘I think the misconception is that we’re all unhealthy but if I was, I wouldn’t be able to do this job.’
The model was scouted on Instagram by Milk founder Anna Shillinglaw, who worked as both a ‘straight’ and curve model before starting the agency.
Sonny, who owes her striking features to her Swedish and Jamaican heritage, started out as a size 12 but frequently found herself being asked to ‘pad’ in order to make herself bigger for plus-size shoots.
‘This fat is making me money,’ she said in a Channel 5 documentary about the agency that aired last year. ‘I do feel like if I was as slim as I was when I first started then I wouldn’t have as many jobs.’
She continued: ‘What happened to me when I first signed to Milk, I was definitely not plus-size, but I was not skinny enough to be a straight-sized model [either].
‘They were like “we really want to sign you, you have a great face and great hair but you have to wear this fat padding”.
‘Every casting and every job, especially if it was a plus-size brand I used to have to wear hip padding around the hips, a** padding.’
Sonny said on the show that wearing padding was not out of the ordinary and was openly discussed during casting.
She continued: ‘Yes it was an open thing people used to talk about it and say “can you pad up twice?”
‘I was a size 12 and it would make me look a size 16, which is the size I am now. Which is just like crazy.’