If you follow plus-size fashion news, you'll notice that there's been an attitude shift both towards and within the industry. Brands are finally acknowledging that women who value style go beyond a size eight and the influx of models of all shapes and sizes have challenged beauty standards in a real way.
Now, SLiNK, a UK-based, plus-size fashion magazine is partnering with three modeling agencies --Milk in the UK, Bella in Australia and Natural in the U.S. -- to host a worldwide modeling competition. Thousands of plus-size contestants (between a size 12-24 UK or 10-22 US) between the ages of 16 to 28, have submitted applications and photos for a chance to sign with the agencies. In addition, they will win a spread and cover shoot with the magazine.
For Rivkie Baum, editor of SLiNK, the contest comes at a pivotal time. SLiNK began distribution in the United States in December and on Monday it hit select Barnes and Noble bookshelves. "To sell in stores like Barnes and Noble and Books a Million, and have a plus-size printed, glossy magazine alongside the established women's publications is incredibly exciting. It shows how the plus-size fashion market is both coming into its own, but also sitting seamlessly next to its straight sized counterparts," she told The Huffington Post.
Contestant Kasia Counts has no prior modeling experience, and told The Huffington Post that the contest is creating a huge opportunity for curvy women to shift society's standards. "Plus-size modeling is more than vanity or fashion, it’s a movement that promotes healthy body image and diversity. We all come in different shapes and size. Plus-size modeling recognizes that and celebrates our differences," she said.
Another contestant, Lindsay Simpson, told HuffPost that her goal was to be a role model for other "real" women. "To inspire and build confidence in girls that aren't as confident because they aren't able to measure up to what society tells us that we should be would probably be the ultimate "prize" of this competition for me."
Simpson admits putting herself out there is nerve-wracking, but says she has "nothing to lose." And when it comes to the future of plus-size modeling, she echoes a sentiment shared by many women in saying, "watch out! The curves are coming!"
Applications must be submitted by May 15. Think you have what it takes? Click here to enter.