Calling out a model for being "plus-size" has the ability to instantly polarize people: Some think the label is offensive ("She's not plus-size"), while others are proud of the distinction. Hayley Hasselhoff falls into the latter category.
We caught up with the 21-year-old model (and, yes, daughter of David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff) just as she wrapped up her appearance at British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend earlier this month. She said there's nothing wrong with deeming someone "plus-size" -- as long as we readjust our definition of the term. "At the end of the day, it just means 'curvy,'" she said. "That's why I think the word 'plus-size' in the industry is very different from people's mind view of what 'plus-size' really should mean."
Specifically, Hasselhoff thinks that we need to forget the idea that plus-size models are "glorifying" obesity. "What we're doing is showing different body shapes and sizes so that you can feel confident with any shape or size that you are," she said. "Fashion can always be a part of your life no matter what shape or size you are. You don’t need to feel like you have to fit into a box because you aren't a certain size that your favorite designer carries."
This is why she supports the various Plus-Size Fashion Weekends around the globe. Through the plus-size runways in the U.S., France and Australia (to name a few of the locations), industry insiders as well as shoppers can see the breadth of clothing options available to plus-size customers. Finding clothes that are fashionable and designed with curves in mind has been a well-documented struggle in the plus-size realm, with many customers limited to online shopping to find stylish clothing in their size.
For Hasselhoff, who started in the plus-size modeling world at the age of 14, body acceptance has been crucial in her path to success. After her father's publicist suggested that she try plus-size modeling, she signed a contract with Ford Models and was approached by Torrid, one of the nation's most well-known plus-size clothing stores, soon after. She's now gearing up to act as ambassador for Paris Plus-Size Fashion Weekend in May, when she'll take a few more strolls down the runway.
It's easy to wonder why plus-size models are kept separate from their straight-size counterparts, but Hasselhoff said that giving plus-size fashion its own runways is a good thing. "Plus-size girls can look to the Plus-Size Fashion Weekends and feel like it's special -- it's something for them and for their bodies," she said. Right now, it's more important for Hasselhoff to focus on getting designers to make clothes in larger sizes, rather than harping on the industry's segregation of body types.
"Plus-size girls in the market should just be thankful that we have the ability to have our own weekend so that we're making our stepping stones in the fashion industry slowly but surely," she said. "When it comes to the runway, who knows what's going to happen in a year or 10 years?"
See Hayley Hasselhoff during British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend: