Readers of “Elle Quebec” are getting a nice change of pace with the May cover model, Justine LeGault, a fabulous and stunning Canadian plus-size model. Based in New York, LeGault is a US 14/16, and she’s, well, really, really pretty:
There’s a slow-blooming renaissance in plus-size modeling these days which is really exciting (though Emily has pointed out that it would be nice to see some of them wearing some clothes, as in, you know, fashion, for a change). I’m seeing more women of size in editorial spreads, and more plus-size models becoming celebrities in their own right, like Crystal Renn. Is it indicative of a larger social shift that’s more accepting of plus-size models?
I’m really hoping so, because the reaction to LeGault’s amazing cover is somewhat unexpected, in that the haters seem to have taken a vacation.
The “Daily Mail,” of all places, points out in a positive way that the cover puts her thighs at the focus instead of trying to hide them, with Margot Peppers noting that: “rather than attempting to conceal her curves, the image celebrates the 5ft 9in, size 14 model's full-figured thighs, placing them front and center.”
I’m not used to the “Daily Mail” being positive about larger bodies.
And her legs are amazing, but I also love how unabashed the image is. Even edited, as all magazine covers are, you can see a hint of softness, some dimpling, some of the things that appear on your thighs when you are a larger woman. LeGault is also tall (5’9”), so obviously her legs are going to be pretty attention-grabbing to begin with, but instead of trying to weasel around that, the “Elle” editorial takes them on head-on.
The result is a beautiful woman staring arrestingly out at the reader with an expression that basically says “Yeah, I have legs. You wanna make something of it?”
Discussing the shoot on her Facebook page (where she also thanks fans for their support), LeGault says that “I believe that beauty is a matter of self-confidence, that it's more than just looks, and that there is a need for model diversity in the fashion industry. Do you agree?!”
Covers/editorials like this one are a great place to start when it comes to redefining beauty, although LeGault of course benefits from having distinctively classic good looks, pale skin, and stunning eyes. There are definitely some uphill challenges in the fashion industry when it comes to the representation of other women, such as plus-size women of color, who are equally beautiful and yet tend not to get these kinds of opportunities with mainstream fashion publications.
So I take her comments with a grain of salt, in that self-confidence alone unfortunately isn't going to help women who don't fit within narrow standards of what beauty should look like. But she, and others like her, are also making progress. They're sticking their feet into a door that has been traditionally closed, and as they muscle it wider, that provides more opportunities for more women.
As a trailblazer, she and other plus size models storming fashion publications have an opportunity to create space for more diversity in fashion, and at the end of the day, incremental progress adds up to a lot.
Look at this amazing image of her in a fantastic red frock, looking windblown and definitely mischievous:
It’s a celebration not just of her beauty, which has a certain timeless quality, but also of the fact that she is beautiful because of, not in spite of, her body. She’s beautiful because of her body type and because she carries her curves well, because she’s confident and happy in her body, and it shows in the way she holds herself in these photos.
You can see a behind-the-scenes video from her photo shoot with “Elle Quebec” here. It’s in French, but for those who don’t speak French, the action alone is interesting to watch.
Here’s to a lengthy and excellent career for LeGault, because she clearly has the motivation and drive for success, and I hope we’re going to see a lot more of her in major editorials and elsewhere. Along with a growing group of other plus-size models, she’s breaking out of the boxes larger women are put into in fashion, and she’s challenging notions of beauty and what’s “acceptable.”
And she’s doing tremendous things for readers who don’t usually get to see representations of bodies like theirs on the covers of the magazines they pick up for inspiration, fashion advice, and information. For every Justine LeGault on a magazine cover, there’s a beautiful woman who could really use the affirmation that she is in fact beautiful even though she doesn’t look like a lot of fashion models.