I have no idea how a calendar put out by a tire manufacturer has become the ultimate fashion paean and yet The Pirelli Calendar — known simply as “the cal” to fashion insiders — has become one of the most important publications in the industry.
The calendar (like most calendars) is put out once a year and the 12 spots are highly coveted by models and actresses. Part of the appeal is that there are so few made and distribution is limited to a small number of important clients and celebrity VIPs. But the real draw is because the artistic portraits are done by the best photographers and posed by some of the biggest names in the biz.
A look at previous years reads like a who’s-who of Hollywood. Previous beauties-of-the-month have included Gisele Bündchen, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Milla Jovovich, Doutzen Kroes, Heidi Klum, Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Brittany Murphy, Amy Smart, Julia Stiles, Karolina Kurkova, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio. But a new name is being added to the list this year and it has everyone buzzing: Candice Huffine will be the first plus-sized model to be featured in the 50+ years the calendar has been made.
“My presence on this set — the most glamorous in the world — is a sign that things are really changing,” she told Vogue.
And this is some good change happening. With the average U.S. woman being a size 14 (the size at which plus sizes start), approximately 70 percent of the population fits the definition. Yet plus-sized women have been woefully underrepresented both in stores and in fashion spreads. Casting the gorgeous Candice, who has also been featured on the cover of Italian Vogue, Moda and other magazines shows the industry that yes, you can be plus-sized and fashion-forward. (It should be noted that a “plus-size model” is often not the same as a plus-size normal woman. Candice is a U.S. size 12.)
You can also, apparently, be into fetish as the theme for the 2015 calendar seems to be bondage with lots of black leather, skin and bustiers. (12 shades of gray?) Yet a criticism often leveled at fashion spreads featuring plus-sized women is that they are often posed nude or nearly nude, as if modelling lingerie is the only role they can “fit into.” And it seems this shoot will be no different.
“Seeing a wider variety of body types in fashion is good, obviously, but associating larger women with sexual availability is problematic (and a total cop-out on the part of the stylist),” writes fellow model Jenna Sauers of a previous magazine cover that featured Candice.
“It seems like we’re getting to a place where straight-size models are hired to wear clothes and plus-size models are hired to take them off,” noted Dodai Stewart on Jezebel.
And yet despite how frustrating fashion can be, at least we are now talking about plus-size women in fashion, which feels like a win. Candice has definitely earned this, and it’s refreshing to see someone who represents a different standard of beauty. More, please!