Me and Mrs. Jones: An Interview with the Editor of Plus Model Magazine

When fashion rags start promising a new me, my body begins to feel less like flesh and bones and more like a construction site. “With a little work,” the magazine covers promise, “this house will be ready for sale and looking fabulous before you can say summer. But…it’s gonna cost.” Thankfully this year, I’d already found Plus Model Magazine, a monthly online publication that sings to a completely different tune. In the editor’s letter of a recent issue, Madeline Jones wrote, “I truly hope this is the year that big changes will be made. Not just in the modeling industry, but in all of our personal lives. Stop the persecution of your arms, bellies and thighs and celebrate the bodies you were given by loving them inside and out.” Along with messages of body acceptance, Plus Model Magazine provides fashion inspiration for the curvy woman, information about the plus size modeling industry, gorgeous editorials, and interviews with strong and smart women, like the managing editor of BUST. I got a chance to interview Jones, the strong, smart woman behind Plus Model Magazine, to hear more about the publication and her thoughts on the fashion industry.

Plus Model Magazine, in its own words, “inspires you to thrive in your curves, crave contemporary fashion and design your life on your own terms, sans apologies.” Why do you think it’s important for a fashion magazine to have this message?

Many people underestimate the power behind fashion, especially to how it relates to women. Plus size women lack the images they need to inspire them daily; they do not have it in television, movies, or magazines. Have we seen more of a push towards acceptance in the last few years? Absolutely. However, this is all it has been, a step closer, but we are not there yet. Plus Model Magazine published it’s first issue six years ago. Without truly knowing whether this was a publication that would be accepted, we took the initiative and the feedback from brands, designers, and plus size women was overwhelming. It was clear to us, plus size women and this industry in particular was ready to grow with us and allow us to explore where it would take us. It was important for us put the goal of this publication out there for all readers to see. It would not only inspire us, but it would hold us accountable to our very own words.

In the short film The Fat Body (In)Visible , Jessica says, “Fat style is one of the biggest ways you can be political as a fat body.” In what ways is the plus size movement political? Do you think personal style can be empowering? How so?

The plus siz movement is political because it affects so many people and several industries. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. What would happen if we were to suddenly shift gears from “it’s horrible to be fat” to “let’s be healthy”? What about the fashion industry? The fashion industry openly makes the plus size woman feel like she is at the bottom of society. She is invisible during fashion week, in clothing campaigns, and in magazine covers and editorials. The plus size movement is fighting for equal rights for 60% of Americans.

Your January issue featured a provoking nude editorial with model Katya Zharkova alongside shocking statistics about the modeling industry. What kind of response have these photos generated?

The response was global and we are really excited about initiating the conversation that everyone is thinking about but most people do not want to address. The plus size industry is at a fork in the road right now; I’ve seen it coming for a few years but never so clear as it is today. The pictures were designed to bring attention to the message, “Plus Size Bodies, What Is Wrong With Them Anyway?”

What kind of impact have all the fabulous plus size blogs, websites, and communities like Fatshionista had on making the plus size movement more visible?

Every blogger and media outlet that covers the plus size movement is helping us to reach our ultimate goal. It’s essential for us to be able to spread our message and support those outlets who support us. Being in the media, whether it’s television, online, or in print absolutely helps the plus size industry thrive.

What can we do to see more and more realistic body shapes represented in the mainstream?

We live in a very comfortable society, we are used to seeing things happen, but how many of us are taking part in making change happen? We will only see change if we all come together as one united voice. If you want things to change, you have to sign the petitions, support the media outlets, comment on those blogs, editorials, and brand/designer Facebook pages. You have to be a voice. If there is a brand that is asking you to spend money but is not marketing to you as a plus sized woman, do not buy from them; email, tweet, and Facebook them and tell them why you will not be buying from them. Every single voice matters!

interview by Jenny Morris

4 thoughts on “Me and Mrs. Jones: An Interview with the Editor of Plus Model Magazine

  1. i can get behind a lot of what jones has to say, but i’m kind of frustrated with how much of an “industry” line she tends to take, as opposed to talking about people feeling less shitty about their body. at times it feels like projects like this one are more invested in making money off of the fact that much of the mainstream fashion world ignores or shames fat people. i wrote about this a while ago after glamour magazine claimed to have started a “body revolution” by featuring a handful of plus-sized models back in 2009:

    madeline jones says “the pictures were designed to bring attention to the message, “Plus Size Bodies, What Is Wrong With Them Anyway?” but does anyone else get a creepy vibe from them? like, “skinny models are one step away from the grave” or “curvier bodies are better than thin ones?” i saw them a while ago when they were first released and have always been kind of irked by them.

    perhaps it is partly due to my own personal discomfort with the idea that our bodies are inherently reflective of our health (not to mention that our health is up for public discussion by complete strangers) and that a “plus-sized” model must be presented as diametrically opposed to an “anorexic” model… and that they cite the very problematic (and often completely debunked) body mass index as a measure of physical health or well-being.

    i hate it just as much when news reports flash images of headless fat bodies when they talk about the so-called obesity epidemic, i dislike that a woman is being objectified to the point where she is nameless and faceless. literally! they only credit one model, the smiling plus-sized model. i get that it packs a visual punch, i just fear it might be the wrong kind of punch…

  2. I both agree and disagree with you garconniere.

    In some ways, yes, I would like to see something a little more rebellious, a publication that thumbs it’s nose more at the mainstream…and personally, that is what I would rather read.

    HOWEVER, I have found that there are a LOT of women out there who like mainstream culture just fine, but are left out of them. They like corporate fashion magazines, but they want to have a place to find out where to buy clothes, check out editorials, etc.

    Even though it’s totally not my choice, I feel like fat people should be able to have a choice to buy into consumer culture if they want it, and clearly a market exists?

    I also don’t know how representative of the magazine the nudie pics are, to be honest. They seemed to cause the most attention, but the rest of the magazine seems to have regular fashion spreads.

    Let me just say also how happy I am that this is provoking an interesting discussion – thank you!

  3. i hate that people seem to be going in one extreme or the other—excessively skinny models or big is beautiful. what about just HEALTHY women? physically fit women, whether naturally slim, or naturally curvy, and not extreme in either direction?

    obviously the anorexic, skin and bones image that has been pushed at us is not okay—but the “fact” that the average model today weighs 23% less than the average woman as opposed to 8% less 20 years ago?? think about it, of course the size of the model has become far too thin in the past twenty years, but the size of the average woman has also SKYROCKETED. the average model 20 years ago might have weighed 8% less than the average woman at that time, but that very same model probably still weighed much more than 8% less than today’s average woman.

    the body image crisis in this country doesn’t just go one way, we have significant problems with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, but at the same, time obesity is just as threatening. what we need is a healthy balance.

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