Last September, Glamour magazine printed a small photo of model Lizzie Miller looking happy in next to nothing. Tons of readers wrote into the magazine, saying they loved seeing such a realistic-looking woman pictured in the pages of the glossy. Glamour listened, and other magazines have followed suit, mixing things up by hiring plus-size models with fantastic yet attainable figures. Lizzie Miller played a big role in this shift by showing off her body, and she continues to be in demand (one of her gigs is modeling for plus-size retailer Lane Bryant). Keep reading to see what she had to say about staying confident in herself despite working in the image-conscious modeling industry.
Your photo in Glamour last fall resulted in the magazine featuring more plus-size models, and other magazine have started to include more varied models, too. What does it feel like to be a part of this revolution?
It feels amazing! It’s great to have a voice and even better that people want to listen now. I think it’s been a long time coming, and I’m so happy that it’s going on and I hope it keeps getting better and better!
You’ve been modeling since you were young, but it seems like plus-size models have only recently been getting attention, at least in the fashion world. Was it hard being “different” when you were younger? Were there any models you looked up to back then? What about now?
My family has always been my biggest support system. They taught me to never take no for an answer and to never give up on my dreams — and to never let fear stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. Without that support, I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far. I really looked up to Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce because they are curvy and beautiful. When I was younger, these were the only two ladies that were rockin’ their curves. Now, there are more women out there, but these two ladies still stay on the top of my list of curvy women I look up to.
The models preferred by the fashion industry can change quickly, and one season’s favorites can struggle to get work the next. Do you worry that plus-size models will lose their appeal, or do you think more realistic body types will stay in demand?
I think realistic body types will stay in demand because most women identify with these women. It also comes down to the consumer; if you like what you see, let the media know! The only reason my picture from Glamour got the editor-in-chief’s attention was because so many people wrote in saying how refreshing it was to see a girl like them. So the more the public participates, the more the media will listen.
A lot of our readers have commented on how models like you and Crystal Renn don’t look “plus-size.” Do you think the label is a misnomer? Do you mind being classified as such?
I can only speak for myself, not any other model. Of course I find it crazy that a size 8 or higher is called plus size, but in this industry, it always seems to be an extreme. My dream is that someday photo shoots won’t be determined by plus-size or straight-size models. I hope that designers can start designing clothes for everyday-sized woman and that ads don’t excluding any type of models. I have read repeatedly that there are women out there that are shorter than 5’ and that there is no way that they can imagine what an outfit will look like on them if it is modeled by someone who is 5′ 11″ or taller. They need to be represented in the media, too.
I actually am happy to be a model at a time when girls larger than a size 2 can work steadily. I would love to be called “Lizzie Miller, Model,” but I realize that all things take time. I would love to be looked at for ads for makeup, hair and jewelry, but at this point in time, most of those jobs go to the straight board or celebrities. It is only when we have controversy and people get upset that change can happen, so I am glad that women are saying, “Hold on a minute, this makes me angry.” Change does not come from complacency. Change comes from people being fed up with the norm. What we have to look at is how many girls and young women are dying and struggling with anorexia or bulimia. There is a reason for this and a large part of it is what they see in the media. Again, I stress that my main goal is that somewhere on this planet, a young girl with thicker thighs and a thicker butt is looking at a picture of me in a magazine and feeling a little bit better about herself. I also hope that we can get our young girls to focus on health and exercise and finding that sweet spot where their personal body type should be. Those kind of changes do not happen in a day.
Do you feel like you have to maintain a minimum weight? Have you been pressured to either gain or lose weight in your career?
In the modeling world you need to find your body niche. Some clients like a full girl, some like a girl on the smaller end of the market; the key is to maintain a comfortable size and stay that size consistently. Since every client is different, sometimes you want to appeal to them all. So maybe eat a few more burgers one week, and the next week eat lots of vegetables and work out. It’s all about checks and balances and if you’re healthy about it, that’s all that matters.
It finally seems like women’s magazines are getting it, that their readers want more realistic women pictured. Do you think plus-size male models will start getting more attention soon?
I think that everything is a step forward in the right direction. I hope that this starts the use of more ethnicities and ages, as well as sizes.
What’s your favorite outfit for showing off your body?
I LOVE a nice form-fitting black dress or pencil skirt; something with very nice material and that clings in all the right places (with a pair of nice heels, of course).