Kate Upton on Ashley Graham: ‘No one should be labeled by their body size at all’


Five years ago, Kate Upton was the Hot Model, the one soaking up the media love and scorn. She scored back-to-back Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition covers (2012-2013). It might be difficult to remember, but Upton got a lot of criticism for being “curvy” too. While she’s tall, lithe and blonde – and thus she fits in with how many believe models should “look” – she’s also quite busty, and I always thought her baby-face made people believe she was curvier than she really was/is. My point is that Upton was criticized for not looking model-y enough, not being thin enough, not being small-chested enough to be a “real” model. Upton remembers though. Which is why she’s being so nice about Ashley Graham’s recent takeover. Graham is the first plus-sized model to cover the SI: Swimsuit Edition, and as we saw this week, Graham is also the first plus-sized model to cover Maxim. Upton is all for it.

I had to ask what Kate Upton thinks about Ashley Graham’s debut on the cover of the most recent Swimsuit Issue.

“I was so excited,” Upton said. “She looks absolutely stunning. So do the other cover girls, but I was excited that it showed all the different body types. I think it’s important for all girls to see that…It’s great that Sports Illustrated showed that every woman can look amazing in a bikini.”

Upton thinks Graham’s appearance is one more step in pushing the fashion world to stop using the “plus-size” label.

“No one should be labeled by their body size at all,” she said.

[From E! News]

This conversation about “plus-sized” labels has been stirred for months, with Melissa McCarthy also entering the fray. Melissa, Ashley and Kate Upton are all saying we should do away with calling models (and presumably clothes) plus-sized. I still don’t know what I think about that. I kind of understand the need for a delineation when it comes to clothes, especially because without any kind of focus on “plus-sized clothes,” they won’t be made. Designers and labels will just make clothes up to size 12 and everyone else will have to wear burlap sacks. But I sort of see the point in stopping the usage of labeling models “plus-sized” or otherwise. Ashley Graham is just a model, not a plus-sized model.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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28 Responses to “Kate Upton on Ashley Graham: ‘No one should be labeled by their body size at all’”

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  1. Mimz says:

    I don’t mind the plus size label. When I get into a store it tells me where to go, instead of looking behind racks of clothes for a XL/XXL/XXXL .
    If manufacturers just decided to do sizes by numbers, till 20, 22, 24 etc, ok, do away with plus size. But that’s unlikely, so, I don’t mind having a section of a store I can go straight to instead of wasting my time looking for that specific top on my size. And I usually don’t find it anyway.

    • Breakfast Margaritas says:

      +111111 I hate scavenging through racks of regular sized clothes mixed with plus size clothing. Plus size is not an epithet to me. Put my clothes where I can easily see them in the store. Otherwise I won’t shop there again.

    • NeoCleo says:

      I’m with you two. However, what I do hate is the lack of choice for plus-size clothing.

  2. kri says:

    Wow! The models are bringing the sensible today! I myself have been everything from a 0 to a 16 (thanks eating disorder!) and while I don’t think “plus size” is a rude label, if others think so, let the fashion industry do away with it. I’m just happy that more than one body type is on a cover, whther it’s Running magazine or SI.

  3. Size Does Matter says:

    Anybody else remember the days of “pretty plus” and “husky” from the Sears catalog? Always made me feel bad because I couldn’t just order regular clothes. Women’s clothes come in a certain waist size and a variety of lengths. Kids’ clothes come in a certain length with a variety of waist sizes. Why is that?

    • kim says:

      yes I do!
      pretty plus & husky
      queen size
      versus “regular”
      it’s the power of language
      and image….so,

      YAY to this body positivity! Kate is supporting women, period. I’m delighted that Ashley is being accepted and in bloom in the fashion world. Representations of various body types and size is incredibly powerful. I’ve heard my teenage nieces talk about Ashley and how they see it’s ok to be yourself. They get it. They discuss Photoshopping too — if only I too had this knowledge and awareness as a adolescent!!

      I will add that I don’t care for price increases on “womens” and “plus size” clothing…it’s not that much more fabric and it’s like a tax. I’m 6 feet 180lbs. Tall sizing…usually more expensive as well and less options…does anyone have a brand or retailer suggestions for tall sized women’s clothing?

    • amilue says:

      When I worked at Sears in the last 15 years, they had men’s pants size rings that just said “Portly.” :( Really!? We didn’t use them in the store, but…of all the descriptors, you went with that one?!

  4. perplexed says:

    It might not be necessary to refer to Graham as a plus-sized model. The category can remain for clothes in stores, if it makes it easier for people of different sizes to find their clothes, but if models are modelling clothes or products, the label probably doesn’t matter as much. Plus, we can see with our own eyes that, for instance, Giselle Bundchen has a different body type from Ashley Graham. In instances when referring to models, the term “plus-sized” probably does seem irrelevant since we can visually see the difference in their sizes and don’t need the media to tell us how to think about that size. The term “plus-sized model” probably makes it seem as though one’s career is lesser than another model’s even though they’re both making money from their chosen careers.

  5. Nameless says:

    Slightly off topic, I think women’s clothing should be made for different body types, like I’m an apple and my friend is a pear, and the disparity between what fits us is more pronounced than regular to plus size, imo.

    • Jaded says:

      Oh God I know – it drives me crazy trying to get pants to fit because I have narrow hips so men’s pants actually fit me better than women’s.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      That’s a good idea. I’m hourglass (I don’t know my fruit name) and if pants fit me in the hips, they are too big in the waist. I always have to have pants altered. Always. And it’s not cheap.

      • MB says:

        Same here. I hate pants shopping. I have thick legs and a big butt, but a much smaller waist. Its really hard for me to find pants that look good!

    • kim says:

      totally on topic!!!

    • Veronica says:

      Oh God, sign me on. I’m a true hourglass, and it took years for me to find a jean brand that could fit me right without cutting into my hip. Underwear can be even worse. Even when I was a slim, I still had to buy L/XL simply because of my hip shape.

  6. mj says:

    Clothing confuses me. Everything in my closet from a Sm to an XL…. they all fit. I’m like Kim Kardashian shaped/sized without as much booty.

    • kim says:

      I hear you…sizes in my closet range from 12 to 20! The measurements by brand really do vary. Then there’s Juniors/Misses/Women’s — gah! so much to wade through. I try to keep a tab on what size and “cut” of a certain label fits my body best.

    • Eden75 says:

      This. Same KK shape, with all the booty.

      Sizing is ridiculous.

    • Veronica says:

      Vanity sizing is a big part of the problem. I’m not quite Kim K, but I’ve got the hourglass build, and I run into that problem all the time with clothing. Like, if I’m pushing into the bigger sizes in your brand, just be honest about it, yeah? Even when I was really thin, I had a few L/XL pieces lying around due to my height and build. I don’t base my self-esteem on the tags on my clothing.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I’m sort of playing around with this in my head, so I’m sorry if it’s not fully formed, but it seems contradictory to me to say on the one hand that I’m full figured or curvy or hippy or whatever and I love my body and I’m totally comfortable but don’t call me full figured or plus sized or anything that indicates that I’m not skinny. What’s the problem? If we accept different sizes and shapes as beautiful, what’s wrong with calling them what they are?

    • teacakes says:

      I’m wondering about that myself, GNAT. I guess some people see the plus size label as ‘othering’?

      • ladysussex says:

        So what about “petite” labels. Stores I shop in have petite sections and my mom has to shop at stores specifically for petite women. Isn’t that “othering”? Yet I’ve never once heard my mom or any other petite person complain about being labeled OR not being represented by models in magazines.

  8. Magnoliarose says:

    Kate Upton’s bad attitude sank her career some. Maybe she turned it around?
    I’m not sure you could sell clothes without labels like petite, juniors and plus. Many designers don’t make anything bigger than 14. It seems to me it would be more demoralizing to see something a fuller woman liked and after rifling through several racks, finds that several styles don’t have plus sizes. It would also be time consuming.

    • teacakes says:

      I don’t know about attitude, but she was a terrible model and had all of one and a half expressions for photoshoots – like a blonde and big-boobed Kendall Jenner. (and size has nothing to do with whether you make a good model, Crystal Renn and Sophie Dahl were her size or bigger but served up great editorial)

      It’s not surprising that high fashion dropped her like a hot potato once the boobs gimmick got old.

  9. Micki says:

    I’ll welcome the day when famous models will start to promote unified size system. Instead there’s a trench war against only a couple of labels like “curvy” or “plus-size”.

    And I’m pretty sure there will be s.o. offended even if there will be a tech. description like “the size 20 model said…” Kate Upton is simply the next one getting on “Body Image” bandwagon.
    It’s either that or feminism right now, Wasn’t bulling THE topic before that?

  10. Grant says:

    Ashley is just breathtaking… She’s the kind of gorgeous woman who just walks into a room and everyone stops and gapes. I can’t even!

  11. Rhonda says:

    It’s great that we are seeing more diversity in body types but I don’t know why anyone would say that Ashley Graham represents the average woman or shows that anyone can look great in a bikini (although, of course everyone does look great imo); she’s still insanely genetically gifted. Her body is larger but it is incredibly beautiful. It’s weird that some people suggest that Ashley Graham represents acceptance of all body types. She still meets the traditional standard of beauty in our culture: young, beautiful proportions, flawless face, smooth skin, etc. She definitely helps challenge the idea that everyone has to be skinny to be considered beautiful and desirable though.

    • MB says:

      I agree with this. Its funny, a woman who is larger than the average model starts getting attention, and she is somehow held up as an example of the average woman. Average she is not. By any means.

  12. Breakfast Margaritas says:

    I want clothes to remain labelled plus size! There’s nothing worse than wasting your time in a store that doesn’t delineate PLUS from MISSY. I don’t have time for wading through a billion size 6/8 when I need a plus size! I’m not ashamed of my size. I exercise and make attempts to stay away from fast food, fried food and junk food. I really don’t care what others have to say about size 14W or 16W. Put my clothes in sections so I can easily access them and continue looking fabulous large thighs and all.