For two and a half years, Amanda Czerniawski was asociologist turned plus-size model. Journeying into a world where, as a size10, she was not considered an average body type, but rather, for the fashionindustry, “plus-sized,” Czerniawski studied the standards of work and imageproduction in the plus-sized model industry.Fashioning Fat takes us through a model’s day-to-day activities,first at open calls at modeling agencies and then through the fashion shows andphoto shoots. Czerniawski also interviewed 35 plus-size models about theirlives in the world of fashion, bringing to life the strange contradictions ofbeing an object of non-idealized beauty.
Fashioning Fat showsus that the mission of many of these models is to challenge our standards ofbeauty that privilege the thin body; they show us that fat can be sexy. Many plus-sizemodels do often succeed in overcoming years of self-loathing and shame overtheir bodies, yet, as Czerniawski shows, these women are not the ones in chargeof beauty’s construction or dissemination. At the corporate level, the fashionindustry perpetuates their objectification. Plus-size models must conform to animage created by fashion’s tastemakers, as their bodies must fit withinnarrowly defined parameters of size and shape—an experience not too differentfrom that of straight-sized models. Ultimately, plus-size models find that theyare still molding their bodies to fit an image instead of molding an image ofbeauty to fit their bodies. A much-needed behind-the-scenes look at thisgrowing industry, Fashioning Fat is afascinating, unique, and important contribution to our understanding of beauty.
1. From Books to Looks: Journeying into 1 Plus-Size Modeling
2. How to Become a Plus-Size Model 35
3. Models of All (Plus) Sizes? 51
4. Disciplining Corpulence through Aesthetic Labor 71
5. Agents as Gatekeepers of Fashion 101
6. Selling the Fat Body 129
7. Stepping Out of the Plus-Size Looking Glass 159
About the Author 205
“Fashioning Fat is an excellent book andwill make important contributions to fat studies and sociology…. an extremely interesting read.”-Esther Rothblum,co-editor of The Fat Studies Reader
“Sociology professor Czerniawski goes undercover as a plus-size model in this expose to find out the truth: is it empowering or exploitative to strut one’s size-14 (and up) self in front of the fashion industry’s cameras? The answer is as complicated and obscure as our relationship to food and our weight, since, as the author states, ‘Frankly, fat means different things to different people.’ […] The book’s personal asides and insider information are enlightening.” -Publishers Weekly
“Fashioning Fat is a well-written and thoughtful book that offers an interesting contribution to feminist understandings of the body. Czerniawski’s narrative writing style is engaging and accessible, making this book well suited for both undergraduate and graduate syllabi. It will be a valuable resource for scholars of gender, work, embodiment, sociology of culture, and the emerging field of fat studies.”-Gender & Society
"Fashioning Fat is an engaging, well-researched book which provides a much-needed critique of the limitations of a politics of visibility."-Cultural Sociology
"At once a sociological adventure and a moving personalvoyage, Amanda Czerniawski’s striking study of plus-size modeling shows theintense aesthetic labor that disciplines the body and shapes the self. Engaginglywritten, Fashioning Fat addresses thesociologies of work and the professions, of gender and the body, as well as theemergent field of fat studies. Like all good ethnography, this one takes us toa new world and insists upon its connections to the worlds we know."-Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson,author of Word of Mouth: What We Talk About When We Talk About Food
"Fashioning Fat is one woman's courageous attempt to redefine beauty. It is a readable indictment of the American Fashion Industry. It is very well-argued and beautifully written."-TheWashingtonBookReview.com
"We need, she suggests, not models of different size and shape, but a more fundamental questioning of the fashion industry itself and its current domination of our conceptions of beauty, especially the beauty of women."-First Things'
"[H]er book is...honest, thoughtful and insightful."-Pacific Standard
“[…] Fashioning Fat is absolutely worth reading.”-XOVain.com
“Fashioning Fat is a notable work that gives readers an inside look at the plus-size modeling industry. The author succeeds at giving the plus-size model a voice and offers some fashion alternatives.”-American Journal of Sociology