If anyone hasn’t heard about it yet, the new woman in the plus size spotlight was just featured on the Today Show, bringing to light the ongoing battle of the plus size models to morning TV. Nancy Upton has captured the attention of mainstream media in the same way plus size models like Crystal Renn and Ashley Graham did with controversies over drastic weight fluctuation and a TV commercial banned for being too sexy. Nancy Upton, who is not a plus size model, responded to a model contest on Facebook from American Apparel when she found their wording of the contest insulting to real size women (the contest was called The Next BIG Thing for starters). Although her pictures were meant to poke fun at a small-size brand’s misconception about plus size clothing she ended up winning the contest through a popular vote on Facebook. Here is a quote from the contest wording:

“Think you are the Next BIG Thing?
 Calling curvy ladies everywhere! Our best-selling Disco Pant (and around 10 other sexy styles) are now available in size XL, for those of us who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts. We’re looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up. Just send us two recent photographs of yourself, one that clearly shows your face and one of your body. We’ll select a winner to be flown out to our Los Angeles headquarters to star in your own bootylicious photoshoot. Runners up will win an enviable assortment of our favorite new styles in XL! Show us what you’re workin’ with!”

Rather than embracing what it means to shop for plus size clothes and be a real size woman looking for style that suits your unique personality and flatters your figure, it seems American Apparel chose wording that implied, at least to Nancy Upton, that women over size 10 can’t be just beautiful, but only “bootyful”. See her interview on the Today Show:


The controversy began when America Apparel, apparently not too happy about her win, sent her a letter of rejection, saying, in part, “Oh—and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.” While it is true that Jessica London, for example, gets criticism from customers for not using bigger models, if you look at a comparison of between American Apparel’s models and their models, you can see a difference. Where plus size brands like Jessica London embrace the full figured body and offer fashionable plus size clothes like plus size dresses and plus size wide width shoes, a brand like American apparel has a lot to learn about what it means to shop for womens clothing as a plus size woman.