Tuesday, April 12, 2011
When Beauty Is A Plus+
Teslyn Butler & Editor, Xina Sy
"The plus size industry in particular has impacted body image in both a positive & negative way."
Thus began my dialog with model & bizness woman, Teslyn Butler! I happened upon her & her vision, Hippy and Healthy.com, purely by accident! But, I believe in fate! I was researching the plus-size modeling industry & was looking for someone to talk about the real deal & what's really going on in an industry that claims to be promoting & representing REAL women, but seemingly continues to contribute to the overall concept of surface, shallow images of women in the media.
During my dialog with this beautiful-inside-&-out sister, I was amazed to learn that, even within the plus size modeling industry women are discriminated against. The industry actually considers sizes 8, 10, & 12 to be plus size and models sizes 14 & 16 work more, while models sizes 18 & above are harder to book for jobs! Teslyn shared openly about dieting to get down from a size 18 to a solid 16 so that she could find work. "It was frustrating, but I just wasn't getting the jobs," shared Butler during our interview. "I love modeling & I love this industry, but there are somethings that can really wear on you!" Read Part I of our dialog below the pic-->
Since the average woman in America is now a size 16, it would seem that an industry set up to target those women would depict itself in a more real way in an effort to reflect real women. One might think. But, one would be wrong! Even within the "plus size" market-- the contradiction of messages about real beauty still prevails & perplexes us all!
XS: How did you get into modeling?
TB: Actually, my first experience in the modeling industry was a scam! My parents took me to an open call in Dallas and they just wanted money! But, it peaked my interest in the industry and so I decided to get serious about it and really pursue it.
XS: Were you always a "plus sized model?"
TB: Yes! I always remember being fuller-figured. I haven't been small since I was 8 years old! I've always been a 'big girl,' (it) runs in my family.
XS: You have been getting a lot of work in your field and have been a part of some really great commercial projects! What has your overall experience been within the modeling industry?
TB: I have to say that my general experience has been mostly positive! I have been really blessed! I work quite a bit and I have been really successful. But, it has also been frustrating when I have to deal with agencies that claim there just isn't a need for plus size models! It's discriminatory.
XS: Most models talk about the need to diet & stay slim, but I would think for fuller-figured models, that dieting would not be an issue. Is that the case?
TB: Absolutely not! I went through a period where I had to diet to get to a solid size 16 because I was not being booked while my size was just an 18. But, I also understand that I am a walking advertisement, so I have to always take care of myself so that I am a true representative of real beauty.
XS: But, don't you feel that within an exceptional category there should be some different guidelines as it pertains to size?
TB: Yes & no. If you understand the industry & understand that the average model is a size 0, 2, or 4 & that size 6 models are trying to lose weight--then you understand that a size 12 is considered pretty large. Its all just kind of relative.
XS: Does it feel fully representative of real beauty to you?
TB: Well, the modeling industry is just another part of the media & the media isn't a real medium. But, I do feel that I, personally, represent real women & am sending a message of beauty & empowerment to young women...which is really important to me!
XS: This message is why you created your organization, Hippy and Healthy?
TB: The message for young girls is exactly why I created the organization. It also fits with my work with the Girl Scouts and The Dove Campaign collaborative for real beauty & self esteem. So, my whole life is about empowering young women to feel good about themselves! I want to assist women & young girls in knowing that they are beautiful just as they are & also provide resources that help to get to the root causes of low self esteem; to deal with insecurities.
XS: Do you have insecurities?
TB: (Laughing) I use to be insecure about my butt! But, not anymore! I am really at a place where I just feel good about all of who I am!
Please check back Thursday for Part II of my dialog with plus size model Teslyn Butler, when she shares more on her work with women & girls, her philosophy on love & relationships, & what's next on the horizon for this emerging beauty...Feel free to leave a comment below! & Register as a Follower-->