Fashion runways have evolved to be exceedingly obsessed with abs on the human body. The recent surge of body positivism has ushered a wave of plus-size models on the catwalks and magazine covers. Staring at these heavily edited but gorgeous photos of most of today’s plus-size models you may covetously wonder about their thick-slim look, especially their abs. So how do plus-size models maintain their abs? The answer will surprise you.
Having a rigorous yet sustainable training and diet routine is one of the most fundamental ways famous plus-size models keep their tummies tight and flat. However, their genetic composition, body shape and posing prowess have a lot to do with their ab fault lines.
The incessant emphasis on ab lines, defined six-pack and a sculpted physique have reinforced this overwhelming obsession in the current health and beauty ideals. Nowadays, it is rare to be considered beautiful, let alone healthy, without spotting some defined muscle mass and abs. This sensational ideal has found its way to contemporary catwalks where female models are hailed for their ‘fierce’ looks because of their defined waists.
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The Sensational Era of Abs
Abs are considered and promoted as proof of body health and wellness by fitness crusaders all around the globe. You only have to pull up your shirt and reveal a 6-pack torso for you to be adorned with praise on how you take your health and looks ‘seriously.’ On the runway, abs coupled with matching upper and lower body proportions have since been rubber-stamped as the ideal body image for models.
Initially, abs were considered a manly physique. Society then expected women to have flat tummies, lean limbs and no cellulite. There was hardly any mention of ab lines or some seriously provoking 6 packs on ladies. At best, this was left to female bodybuilders who even then were not as toned and sculpted as they are today. Extremely defined muscle mass was not a thing back in the day for women. But times did change.
Soon a wave of fitness practice, healthy lifestyles and organic natural dining, organic hit America. It started among the rich and gradually percolated to the middle class. All and sundry hurried to gyms and took out membership gym cards. Suddenly the ‘personal fitness trainer’ became an invaluable gem to flaunt for those with the money to pay. People scrambled to have personal trainers help them keep fit and most definitely look the part – well at least most tried to. Wealth, health and beauty began to be coloured with tones of lean body silhouettes for women who were wealthy enough to eat clean and have a personal trainer keep them in check.
Weight training became an instant sensation. Buff arms, chests, sculpted legs and calves for men and not to forget the 6 pack abs, became the most desired body silhouette among men. It did not take long for the female divide to catch on with this silhouette ideal. Women too could afford a couple of hours 3 to 4 times a week to engage in some weight resistance training and eat healthy organic meals. Soon female celebrities, influencers and models were spotting not just flat tummies but abs – well-defined abs!
Because of the increasing desire of this body silhouette, with arms wide open, runways embraced the female ab lines and the 6 packs. This was not at all because it was the most common body type among women, but because of the idealism and misconstrued beliefs around it. It simply looked good and was desired amongst the majority of people.
Before we delve in any further on this let’s take a detour into what I call the runway psychology.
Commercial Fashion Runway Psychology
As the term suggests, runway psychology refers to how the runway business, fashion houses and brands think. It encompasses their overriding considerations, business philosophy, marketing and branding outlook, sales pitch and all that comes with fashion designing, marketing and retail. Interestingly, fashion runways maintain an approach that seems out of touch with modern-day to day realities. This is especially so when it comes to their selection of models.
Brands roll out beautiful fashion pieces for women of all sizes but insist on clothing stick-thin models to market to a broad diverse spectrum of body sizes. Notably, the average size of the American woman is not a size 0 or even a size 12 but a size 14, making plus size the new norm. Despite this, only thin tall silhouettes were paraded about every runway on the globe.
A large percentage of women never got to see their body sizes on the runway, yet they were the target market of these brands. This seems quite inconsiderate and unrealistic for fashion houses to do this, but sale volumes proved otherwise.
You see, when it comes to marketing, brands are influenced by what people want. They only show what people would want to see. They specialize in envisioning and creating along the lines of what appeals to a large percentage of audiences. They look into the prevailing societal norm and beliefs of what beautiful, sexy, healthy looks like on a female body.
Fashion trends shape society’s image and perception of beauty and glam and the converse is also true – society’s image and perception heavily influence fashion trends especially when it comes to model sizes and image. This endless cycle had buttressed the slimmer body sizes as the more beautiful and healthier body option over the decades.
Fashion outlets understand that to successfully market their pieces they must lure customers in with stunning images of not just a clothing collection but also the body wearing the clothing. Till recently this body type has always been a non- plus size woman. They shared in all the following features:
- Lean faces- no double chins
- Smaller busts
- Significantly smaller waistlines
- Well rounded and fuller hips
- No cellulite- riddled legs
- No back fat rolls
- No arm fat
However, this fashion- society relationship has also helped introduce plus size models into mainstream catwalks and fashion runways. This introduction, however long overdue, is still in its early stages. Slowly fashion brands are warming up to plus size models because of the increased growth and pressure from body positivism movements. Though there those who are yet to introduce plus size models onto their runways and seasonal collections.
With this comes the queer observation of the plus size model trends that are currently flaunting the runways and are all the rage in our social media handles – they very closely resemble the previous runway narrative of the ideal body of the woman. When we thought we would see a wider representation of body sizes and shapes, only a particular size and shape of plus size is featured. These are plus size women with lean faces and no double chins, significantly smaller waistlines, fuller hips and busts, no cellulite-riddled legs, back or arm fat.
Is Plus Size Abs a Fad?
Plus Size Abs are the current rave when it comes to plus size body image. A majority of leading plus size models in the industry such as Ashley Graham or Lorena Duran seem to have this in common. Luxurious and sensual pictures of them in lingerie or sportswear, high-end dresses and seasonal collections showcase their curvy and voluptuous body, leaving many floored and desirous of their look. Their abs sticking out as they strut their stuff on the runway or pose for magazine covers and other media outlet posts is quite sensational. Who would have ever imagined that plus size women would have abs?
To many, this is proof that chubby girls can be healthy. Some sort of validation that being above a size 12 does not necessarily mean that they suffer from obesity and have failing organs! And because fashion dictates societal trends, many plus size women are hooked on looking like their favourite plus size celebrities. Very few stop to think about the very ‘look’ of plus size models put out by brands and other fashion outlets. It seems that it is good enough to have someone ‘big’ on magazine covers, TV commercials and the runways for a change. Many simply are content with that.
If you do some digging, it won’t take you long to stumble upon the discourse on plus size abs. Are they real? They look real. Nearly in every single picture or fashion collection showcase, these lovely plus size models seem to amaze crowds with their well-defined abs coupled with voluptuous proportions. Despite their largeness, they perfectly embodying the thick-slim-thick hourglass effect, making them equally admirable in the public eye.
Plus Size Model Nutrition
The tried and tested way of having abs or maintaining adequate muscle mass on your body is by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising. Studies have proven time and again that you are what you eat. Abs don’t just naturally occur on your body – a lot of time, work and intentionality have to be put in for these results.
Whereas its part of the job description of being a model, a rigorous diet consistent exercise regime is not something all plus size models with abs religiously follow through with. On speaking on the subject, many confess that they do come up short in this. But this doesn’t stop them from having abs, how comes?
Well, the unfortunate reality is that plus size models with abs constitute a fraction of the plus size fraternity. These models are the exception rather than the norm – that’s why we rave out their abs in the first place. Here are the real answers about how plus size models manage to maintain their abs.
Our genes dictate our most prominent features, where we carry weight the most, where we carry weight the least, our height, our general body shape and ‘normal’ body weight. Off course habits such as training, fasting, food binging, dieting and our emotional and mental wellbeing also contribute to our general physique. Nonetheless, they do not hold as much sway as genes do.
This being the case, plus size models with abs tend to be those who are graciously endowed with all the ‘good genes’. They tend to carry all the eight at the bust, hip and thigh area and hardly any around their waistlines. Many of those with this advantage are usually hourglass and pear shapes. Fat does not sit around their waists! This gives off the coveted appearance of voluptuous hips and busts and razor flat tummies.
2. The Art of Posing
In one of her YouTube clips, the gorgeous plus size model Iskra Lawrence unveiled some of the trade secrets of posing with finesse as a plus size model. These tips and tricks are some of her go-to posing styles that help her – a plus size model builds the illusion of having a slim flat waist with some ab definition. This does not mean that she does not work out and eat healthily, she does but she admits when it comes to modelling and showcasing her plus size frame, the packaging matters. And she would do with some help.
From strategic posing angles, playing with the lighting how and where it hits to create and greatly enhance visible ab lines, tiptoeing to create a thigh gap, various head tilts and chin angles, she bares it all. A lot of work is put into creating this impressive illusion of a voluptuous body with abs.
3. Plus Size Models Are Not So ‘Plus Size’ After All.
Surprisingly, not all plus size models are actually ‘plus size’. Seems paradoxical but here’s what I mean. These models are not necessarily skinny nor are they ‘big’. They are go-betweens, between a size 8 or 12 approximately. This makes it easier and more probable to have and maintain abs because they are not dealing with a whole lot of fat or cellulite around their waists. The hoax in this is that they have more volume around their hips and butts to give them wider and curvier lower proportions than the conventional thin models, making them appear to have exceedingly small waists. These models are passed off as plus size, yet in actual sense they barely are.
Additionally, many of the actual plus size models who appear on the runways, typically a size 20 and above tend to be more covered up. They spot more moderate clothing pieces that more or less hide their tummies. Hardly do you find them spotting lingerie on a catwalk that allows their bellies to hand out full throttle. Why? Because a majority of actual plus size models do not have abs!
4. The reality of Liposuction
Models and celebrities are known to go under the knife to look the part. This is not an unpopular concept for some plus-size models who have undergone liposuction to have flatter bellies and ab lines.
Most plus-size model abs are a façade. This coveted look is more staged than it is real. They seemingly advance the notion of spot reduction of fat. Unless genetically or surgically endowed, fuller more voluptuous women will have some fat to deal with around their waistlines. The brutal truth is that if you are plus size and want to spot serious abs, you will need to shed some pounds.