“My confidence has never been exclusive to my appearance, it’s always come from other places in my life.” Georgia Pratt has the kind of body image you want for your daughter. In 2012 at 22-years-old, Ford Models plucked Georgia from the shores of New Zealand and brought her to New York City where she is now signed with Muse Models. Trained in fashion design, Georgia has been on both sides of the industry, so there’s an irony in her perspective as plus size model: “I understand the concept behind making something look the way that you want it to look.” While her insight into the plus size world is interesting, it’s the relationship she has with her own body that’s worth learning from.
“As a plus size girl, people’s expectations of you are never as direct as you think. A lot of girls I’ve met have gone through horrendous body issues—going from straight size to plus size and back again—to giving up modeling completely, letting their bodies return to their natural state. Fortunately I’ve never gone through the trauma of an eating disorder or any form of body dysmorphia. I wasn’t exposed to direct negative body energy growing up, and wasn’t really aware of it until I left high school and learned about the experience of others. Whether through their mothers, older siblings or adults around them in general, the negative impact on the mental awareness of some girls is huge. I’ve always been tall and built and my group of school friends were from all different walks of life. Coming to New York City was a big realization that if anything, my lack of issues put me in the minority.
A more diverse group of models are slowly becoming part of the bigger picture and less of an exception which is nice, although there can be an underlying culture of negativity. Diversity, whether in skin color, race or age—anything against the norm is going to make someone upset. You can’t make everyone happy. People get confused thinking that skinny or plus size equates to right and wrong, when those labels in themselves don’t mean anything anymore.
The word ‘curvy’ is particularly devoid of meaning—it’s a word that is overused because people don’t know what to use instead.
In the fashion industry people are cautious about being critical towards plus size models and will often gain praise for paying attention to the subject. I don’t feel like this is always appropriate. Excessive praise or being celebrated as a plus size poster girl makes me more uncomfortable than being criticized.
You want people to see that it’s not all about size, the focus should be on beauty for beauty’s sake. It goes both ways—hating on someone who’s thin is equally as bad. The internet has given people a sense of entitlement to make judgement calls—it’s the worst place for conversations that start to spiral. As a model you’re a product of someone else’s creation. While you’re paid to wear clothes for advertising purposes, you’re also tied to the aftermath of an image. You have a responsibility towards this, except I don’t know how much you can really control it. While I appreciate that I may make some women feel better about themselves, it’s not what I have set out to do or wish to base my career on. I don’t like to dwell on the idea that women have insecurities, it only emphasizes them more. Empowering or inspiring someone through my work is a bonus.
Ideally, health should be central to the promotion of beauty—but more often, beauty is defined by the way men perceive women.
Women have increasing dictation over how they want to be seen, but it hasn’t always been this way. So there’s a feminist side of what we stand for, but it’s often over-exaggerated. For example, there’s the irony in being objectified because of your curves. Even if you’re striving to be curvy, there’s still an ideal of what that means and the proportions which deem it attractive. I think cultural influences have more impact than fashion models. Take Kim Kardashian who’s exaggerated in all the right places—or within reason of what is claimed attractive in a voluptuous sense. This kind of imagery particularly influences our youth. Plus size models are most often portrayed as adults or grown women. This is totally different to a regular model who starts young, stays young and finishes young.
In teenage magazines, there’s a consistent image of beauty and what being a teenager is like, and I remember noticing this growing up. My thoughts are—if you have genuine intention to encourage diversity in fashion and make a difference, for every plus size model in Vogue there should also be one in Teen Vogue. It’s the next generation of young women we need to be giving these messages to. Size aside, I think the bigger issue is the flawless ideal across the board. That’s what is truly unattainable. My freckles get airbrushed out of everything, as do stretch marks and cellulite—things that all girls have, regardless of size. These things are part of life. People lose that respect towards the integrity of women.
There needs to be more energy invested in embracing bodies for what they are.
Women constantly objectify themselves and forget that you need to be sensitive to the body—work in harmony with it instead of pushing against it. While I have insecurities like everyone else, I accept my body—and by doing so have learned about it. I’m at a point where I understand my body and know how it works. I completely respect it.”
As told to Amy Woodside, June 2014
Photographed by Amy Woodside