Strutter Q&A: Writer Jordan A. Trantham
Now that society is warming up to the idea of body inclusively and plus sizes, there seems to be more opportunity for people to pursue their dreams of becoming a model. For writer Jordan A. Trantham, that dream turned out to be a disappointing reality. The Michigan-based writer shared her story in a recent blog post, "Why the Plus Size Fashion Industry Can Kiss My Plus Sized Ass." In it, Trantham explains her foray into plus size modeling, and the surprising results. An excerpt from her post, below: The first modeling management company I looked into when I was doing my research proudly boasts that it is their “mission to let models be healthy and happy, while providing them with an opportunity to work as a model at their natural body shape and size.” You know the saying, ‘sounds too good to be true’? Upon further research into their company, I came across their blog which gives you helpful tips on ‘How to become a model!’ Right after saying that they “really try hard to create opportunities for models that are not the ideal measurements because we feel beauty comes in many shapes and sizes and should be represented.” They go on to state that they “accept model submissions for models who are a minimum of 5’7”-6’1”,” and that they “look for models who are sizes 8-18. To be more specific [they] look for a hip measurement between 39″- 47″.” So by their standards, I’m 1 inch too short and my hips are 3 inches too wide, even though I comfortably wear size 18. Interesting. For an agency that prides themselves on stuff like “beauty at any size” what they really mean is “beauty at any size as long as you’re THIS size”. Trantham's post—and the blog itself—is a must-read if you want brutally honest observations about the plus size industry. Strutter recently chatted with Trantham about her writing, researching modeling agencies, and the future of her blog. Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog first and foremost because I love to write. I also love the blogging community in general; in general my experience with everyone has been overwhelming supportive. Some days I look at my blog as a way to just get my thoughts out there, and other days I look at it sort of as a career move. Earning a living writing (or even any amount of money) would be like a dream come true. Overall, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with others in hopes that I can inspire them, make them laugh, and maybe even teach them a thing or two. Was your interest in modeling deep seeded, or was it spontaneous? My interest in modeling was definitely spontaneous. I’ve been trying to be more body positive, so I started following several plus size models on social media and I thought that what they’re doing is so great for young females, and I wanted to be a part of it. How many modeling agencies did you look into? Did you like one more than another? I looked into four or five different modeling agencies. At first glance, I respected Natural Models, because I thought that their mission of “beauty having no size” was fantastic. However, after researching more into the agency, I discovered that they have very strict measurement guidelines for their models, which completely contradicts their mission statement. I like MiLK Management, because they have at least one model–Tess Holiday–who is a relatable plus size woman. What was it about the Urban Dictionary definition that struck you? Did you add your own description? If not, how would you describe the term "plus size”? The Urban Dictionary definition of “plus size” really got under my skin because it was so disgustingly negative. First of all, it says that all plus size women are unhealthy, which isn’t the case at all. Look at me, for example: I’m plus size, but I’m in perfect health. It also says that the term is trying to make being overweight seem like a “good thing”. My question is, who decided it was bad? I’ve spent my whole life being incredibly negative towards myself because I’ve always equated being overweight with being “bad”, or “unlovable”. I’ve spent the better part of 24 years looking in the mirror and mentally tearing myself to shreds because someone, somewhere, decided that being overweight was “bad” and that idea has been reinforced thousands of times in the media. This definition only perpetuates that idea and therefore it also perpetuates negative self-image. I think it goes without saying that young females have enough to deal with on a daily basis without having a war with themselves every time they pass a reflective surface. It’s hard for me to define “plus size” because ideally I would like to get rid of the term altogether. I don’t see the need for separating women into two categories (of) straight size, and plus size. Why can’t models just be models? Why can’t stores carry ALL sizes? I know that would take a major culture change, but it’s a nice thought, don’t you think? Are they any ad campaigns that gets plus size right?
The #ImNoAngel campaign by Lane Bryant is a pretty good body positive campaign. It seems to have more diversity than others out there. Dove typically has really good body imagine campaigns as well, because they deal more with self-esteem in general than specifically body size/shape. I’m also a fan of hashtags like #fatshion and #fatkini on social media sites. There’s such a stigma surrounding the word “fat”, so taking that and using it in a way that says, “Yes I’m fat, and look at how cute my outfit is” is great. My favorite campaigns tend to be the ones that aren’t backed by companies. The ones that are born out of everyday women deciding to say “FU” to society and decide that they’re beautiful despite what the media tells them. They’re the most relatable and diverse. Who gets it wrong?
That pathetically sorry excuse of a body positive campaign by Victoria’s Secret. Are you planning to resubmit your pics to modeling agencies? Independent photographers? Start your own agency? I’m not sure what I’m going to do in terms of modeling, at the moment. It would be a great opportunity to spread body positivity and encouragement to other young women who struggle with what they see in the mirror, but I’m not sure how great I would be at it. When I’m still struggling so much on a daily basis to come to terms with what I see in the mirror, the number on the scale, and the tags of my clothes, I think it would be almost hypocritical of me to join the modeling/body positivity community. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to fully embrace myself and then I can look into modeling again. Your bio mentions that you work in the Detroit area. Is there a plus size/body positive community? If there is, I don’t know about it. What do you think needs to be done for the plus size movement to make further strides in society? The plus size movement is heading in the right direction. However there’s still so much that needs to be done. I mentioned earlier that an entire culture change needs to happen. I think that starts with the media. Normalizing seeing “plus size” women on magazine covers and in movies as more than just the comic relief would be a good way to start this culture shift. But the question is, how do we get the media to start doing that? I’m not sure. I think that continuing with trending hashtags and grassroots body positivity campaigns is a good place to start. The main issue is the stigma surrounding “fat”, “overweight”, and “plus size”. I have no clue how to go about fighting it and changing an entire society’s way of thinking. What is the future of your blog? I honestly don’t know what the future of my blog is. I’m definitely keeping it, I can tell you that much. I want to keep writing about my experiences, and what I’ve been learning about myself and about life. Maybe someone will see it and want me to write for their website or magazine. It seems like so many bloggers these days are becoming quasi-famous, so maybe that’s in the stars for me. We’ll have to sit tight and find out! Note: This story was edited for length and clarity.