Saturday, September 3, 2011

Modeling knits: Why are only the smallest sizes ever shown?

I'm a size 12. I'm not fat, but I'm not thin, either. I'm about average, I think. My bust is a bit above average, at a 38 D bra size, which makes my bust about 43 inches around.

When I first started knitting 6 years ago, there were a lot of patterns in books and magazines that I couldn't knit because the largest size had a 38 inch bust measurement (and I hadn't learned yet how to modify patterns). Now, somehow, the books and magazines have gotten a clue and almost every pattern goes at least up to my bust size and usually beyond, so I can make almost any sweater pattern without having to do the math and calculate the larger size myself.

Now that both Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting have so many wonderfully inclusive patterns that will fit from a 30-inch bust (haha, not since about 4th grade for me...) to 60+, why are most of the garments in the magazines modeled on super-thin models, who wear the smallest size available for the pattern?

I have occasionally seen some larger models in Interweave Knits, and their models overall tend to be very normal and human-looking. Their models tend to look like women, not too thin. But it is extremely rare that I see a larger, even what you would estimate to be a size 12, model.

Pretty normal, happy-looking models. They are modeling garments with a 35.5-inch and a 33-inch bust size, respectively, which is the 2nd-smallest size for each pattern.

In Vogue Knitting, in which the current issue's patterns almost all accommodate extra small to extra large or larger sizes, however, I see much thinner-looking models. In contrast to the happy-looking, smiling models of Interweave Knits, in Vogue Knitting, we have angry-looking, very thin models:

I call that the "model-glower." They all seem to be thinking, "I hate you."

But I digress. Despite these patterns all being offered in larger sizes that fit me and much, much larger women, we see none of these sizes represented. It's all thin women. Why are none of the larger sizes represented?

In the case of fashion magazines like Vogue and Bazaar, I can understand the thin models. They're modeling couture, which designers only make in very small sample sizes. But in the case of knitting magazines, the designer or test knitter can knit up any of the sizes the patterns offer as a sample... that is, if the magazine employs models that will fit that size.

I recently knitted a sample sweater in my own size. I figure, I can wear it after the company is done with it, right? I can even model it for them and take photos to their specifications. It turns out that all sample garments must be knitted to fit their models, and thus must be made to fit a 30 to 32 inch bust.

That pissed me off. If you are going to offer the larger sizes in the patterns, and I am grateful that you do, why not take at least a small percentage of them and have them be modeled by women who wear the medium and larger sizes? We knitters are not all small and extra small, so why should we have to look at only small and extra small-size models modeling the garments? I would think that if medium and large and extra large size knitters can see how a garment might actually look on them, rather than on a size 0 model, that might help sell patterns and would prevent unhappy finished garments that look fine on a size 0 but not so much on a larger woman. That larger woman, who wasted money on a garment that worked on her body in theory but not in practice, is now pissed and a bit humiliated, and now might not buy the magazine or the book in the future, having had this unpleasant experience.

The sizes have become inclusive. How about making the models more inclusive as well? Just a few, maybe 10% or 25% of the garments in a book, in a magazine, or on a website, modeled in the medium and larger sizes offered in the patterns, would go along way towards making us knitters who are not size 0s or size 2s feel a lot more welcome.

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