Super-sizing today’s generation of plus-size models

The prized marketing strategy created by McDonald’s in the mid ’90s has sparked a dangerous epidemic. Thanks to the omnipresent golden arches, “super-sizing” has become a contagious trend. It’s such a universal craze that it should be defined in Webster’s. Let me explain.

I’m sure there are many students for whom shelling out $4 for a complete meal consisting of greasy fries and “all white meat” chicken nuggets is appalling. However, those who are money conscious and slaves to quick-fix meals understand the need for monstrous meals at miniscule prices. But the whirlwind effects and damaging connotations of “super-sizing” have spiraled out of control and have leaked into societal standards.

This summer in New York I happened to meet a recruiter for a modeling agency. After noting that I’m tall at 5-foot-10, he looked me up and down. Twice. His flattering recommendation was that I should consider pursuing a modeling career. I would have been satisfied had he stopped right there. But he didn’t. “You would be a perfect candidate for plus-size modeling. Big-boned girls at a size 6 or 8 like you are in demand.”

He had to be kidding me. When I think plus size I think obese, size 24. I may have my days where everything in my closet seems to feel as if it were painted on, but I would never compare myself to Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shallow Hal.” When I think size 6 or 8, I think healthy. There is no correlation between the two.

Apparently, although the average female size is 12, I was unaware that a size 6 was considered “full-figured” by the spearheads of the modeling industry. Though we all understand how that industry has a skewed perception of the world, it still reflects upon societal standards and dictates the epitome of an attractive female form. And it hurts to have what you consider to be a healthy body image crushed by someone who searches for fresh faces but is too unattractive to represent beauty himself.

To put it simply, the medium size has become obsolete. And not just in fast food ordering options, but also in female figures. Apparently, you must be either rail-thin or plus-size to be considered beautiful. You are either Paris Hilton or Carnie Wilson (pre-gastric bypass surgery).

What’s troubling is that Vanderbilt is a breeding ground for this diluted frame of mind. It’s no secret that Vanderbilt is often touted as attracting the prettiest girls and therefore, girls feel it is their civil duty to uphold that prestigious title. But a beautiful face does not an attractive body make.

While there is little a girl can change about her face, she can spend hours sculpting and toning.

It’s easy to notice the hordes of girls trampling into the rec center every day, perfectly happy to wait 30 minutes for an elliptical machine as long as they work off more than enough calories to eliminate the slim chance of their lunchtime salad showing up on their thighs.

Well, a recent study at Cornell proved that freshmen college students gain, on average, 4.2 pounds over the first 12 weeks in college. That is a negligible gain that can be attributed to environmental changes and newly discovered freedoms. I don’t think your friends are going to shun you because your jeans fit a little more snugly. And you are not going to kill your chances with a sorority if you can’t fit into your prom dress anymore.

The plus-size comment proves to be a disturbing social commentary on beauty. It presents an idyllic world where two extremes (teeny or heavy) coexist for perfection; both are unhealthy options, and there appears to be no acceptable in-between route.

If my size carries along with it the social stigma that I am plus-size, well, then I will embrace it. After all, bigger is supposed to be better, right?

Murphey Harmon is from Vanderbilt University, Tenn.