It’s no secret that the modeling industry has lacked proper representation for so many years, only making space for the select few women who were tall enough, thin enough, and blonde enough to fit in. Only amidst scrutiny and calls for more diversity and representation has the industry started to pave the way for different ethnicities, sizes, races, disabilities, etc. And while diversity in the modeling industry still has so much more to go, it’s important to highlight representation wins, especially when it comes to plus-size models.
Liris Crosse, who has been called “The Body” and “The Naomi Campbell of Plus,” is one of today’s full-figured, African American women making representation center stage. With years of experience in the fashion and modeling industry, Crosse became the first plus-size model to win Project Runway (season 16), challenging the industry standard of “conventional beauty.” She has continued to be one of the most popular plus models in the industry, working with brands like Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart and magazines like Essence, Honey, Glamour, and American Vogue. In addition to modeling, Crosse has been booked in music videos, film, and tv shows, showing women what’s truly possible, including landing a recurring role on the drama series “Law & Order: Organized Crime” on NBC.
For plus-size model and body positivity advocate Essie Golden, body positivity is way more than just a trend—it’s an ode to inclusivity and the Black women who started the movement. Today, Golden uses her platforms as a model, influencer, advocate, and entrepreneur to give plus-size women proper representation and encourage brands to do the same. Her community, Golden Confidence, is all about empowerment, confidence building, and making space for underrepresented bodies. As a sneakerhead herself, Golden has also co-founded Thick Laces, a community for plus-size women who love sneakers and streetwear to find pieces perfect for their body, style, and lifestyle.
Precious Lee is another plus-size model championing diversity in the modeling industry. Lee, who grew up in Atlanta, wanted to share with the world the power of a Southern Black woman. With creativity and prowess pulsing through her veins, Lee studied mass media arts at Clark Atlanta University, where she fell in love with fashion and modeling. Walking in a college fashion show, Lee got the “experience of feeling how magical it could be to represent so many people in that space, because even though it was a Black school, I was the only freshman curve model. I just remember feeling so inspired,” she told Elle. Now a regular on the runway, Lee has walked for colossal brands like Versace, Christian Siriano, Moschino, and Savage x Fenty.
Black plus-size models still have to contend with industry issues including lack or representation and size diversity, but Liris Crosse, Essie Golden, and Precious Lee are paving the way toward progress.