A 27-year-old model named Myla Dalbesio has made history by landing a Calvin Klein campaign. She is a stunning woman with striking bone structure, as most models are, but here’s the difference between Myla and most models: she’s a size 10. Myla was hired for Calvin Klein’s “Perfectly Fit” campaign alongside models Lara Stone, Jourdan Dunn, and Ji Hye Park, all of whom are standard size (0 – 2) models. She told ELLE about her experience:
“It’s kind of confusing because I’m a bigger girl,” Dalbesio says. “I’m not the biggest girl on the market but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls [Calvin Klein] has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating.”
The shoot went well, which she describes as “very cool,” and Myla hopes her presence in the fashion industry could potentially lead to change:
“I’m in the middle,” she says. “I’m not skinny enough to be with the skinny girls and I’m not large enough to be with the large girls and I haven’t been able to find my place. This [campaign] was such a great feeling.” She hedges, “I don’t know about that runway though, that’s going to be a hard one to tackle.”
Wonderful, right? I love that Calvin Klein didn’t treat her any differently or be like “GUYS LOOK WE GOT A DIFFERENT-SIZED LADY, APPLAUD US.” That is wonderful and absolutely a step forward.
Well, naturally, as with all things relating to size, people are losing their shit over this pleasant story. According to The Daily Mail, enraged tweets have been sent to ELLE:
‘Genuine WTF moment,’ one critic wrote in a tweet directed at Elle. ‘This woman is described as “plus-size” and “a bigger girl”. Aaaraagahagaagahahagahahag’.
Another person said: ‘I wouldn’t consider her a plus size model. Her height and her muscular tone should not categorize as a “big girl.”‘ And a third commented angrily: ‘How is that plus size??’
Myla is “bigger” than most other models; “bigger” is a relative term. A size 2 is bigger than a size 0. A size 22 is bigger than a size 18. My ring finger is bigger than my index finger, which I find a little weird, but whatever! “Bigger” is not an inherently negative thing, it’s just an observation. The fact that we’re still categorizing models as plus-size versus standard is unfortunate, so the presence of models like Myla is helpful. Instead of both the standard and plus-size tables saying “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US,” maybe it’s better to just, oh, I don’t know, not fucking freak out over what to label her?
In response to the controversy, Myla issued a statement via ELLE, including this excerpt:
I love that after working in the fashion industry for nine years, I have finally found my place, right in the middle. Neither plus, nor straight size, I love that I can be recognized for what I am, a healthy size 10. …
I love that by opening this discussion, I can also (hopefully) open some doors for other models, friends of mine, that have always straddled the line between straight size and plus. True body diversity doesn’t mean only sizes 0’s and 2’s then jumping to size 16 and up. There is a middle ground.
As is the case when it comes to many observers viewing how women are portrayed, I admittedly have trouble not imposing my own selfish desires to see somebody on billboards who looks like myself. And while I by no means want to insinuate that women sizes 8, 10, and 12 face the same issues as women who are sizes 14 and up, I do think it’s actually rarer to see a mid-size model than a plus-size one. This may be because brands who want to appear more accepting want to use “officially” plus-size models, or because brands that sell plus-size clothing want to use actual plus-size women to advertise their clothes and use standard size models for the rest of their clothes–nothing in between.
Everyone once in a while, we’ll see a Daisy Lowe or Crystal Renn come along (the latter of whom has been criticized for losing weight and being a size 6/8 rather than a 0 or 16), but for the most part, we do not see a lot of women who are betwixt standard and plus. Whether you consider her thin, fat, average, or simply an outrage, Myla Dalbesio is important–she symbolizes a divergence from the two standards we have set forth at the expense of all the other women who fall in the big gap between them.