updated 7 Feb 2012, 08:26
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Wed, Jan 18, 2012
The New Paper
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Bigger, better, bashed

A PROVOCATIVE magazine photo spread was intended to draw attention to unhealthy standards of beauty in the fashion industry, but it attracted a backlash instead.

Plus Model Magazine, a free Internet magazine for plus-sized women, published a nude pictorial featuring full-figured model Katya Zharkova and other nude models in its January issue.

But the magazine's editor-in-chief, Madeline Figueroa-Jones, a former plus-sized model herself, didn't anticipate the negative response the photo spread would attract.

"I knew we would get some backlash, but I didn't expect for plus-size women to be compared to drug addicts," Ms Jones told Fox News.

"Some of the feedback was so bad, we couldn't even approve it for the public to see. But we want the conversation to happen because it gives us the opportunity to help them see that this isn't a health issue. It's an equal rights issue."

Plus Model Magazine's January issue featured Zharkova and a normal-sized model in the nude in an attempt to "open the minds of the fashion industry", which is stepping further away from reality, said Ms Jones.

The magazine gives away its content free on the website and generates income by selling advertising space.

Describing her reaction when she first saw the photos, Ms Jones told Fox News: "The images were submitted to other mainstream magazines, and while they loved what they were seeing, they wouldn't publish them.

"When they came to me, there was no hesitation on my part. I knew this would be amazing for people to see and that if we added the correct statistics, the impact would be powerful."

When the website published an article titled "Plus Size Bodies, What Is Wrong With Them Anyway" and directed readers to the photo spread, it spread like wildfire.

The response to the article blew Ms Jones and her team away.

It received more than 300,000 hits within the first few days of being published. It also garnered more than 7,000 shares on Facebook and more than 1,000 shares on Twitter.

"The statistics and photos in this article have had a global impact," Ms Tulin Reid, executive marketing and creative director of Plus, said.

"We are thrilled with the results as it expands the conversation that we have monthly between advertisers, designers, readers and the modelling industry."

But some readers like RPC in Hawaii said: "This is a blatant and self-perpetuating effort for many individuals to declare that there's nothing wrong with being overweightÂ…it's our natural condition and is naturally 'beautiful'.

'Unhealthy example'

"The fact of the matter is that it is neither...and such self-congratulatory praise for an overweight physical condition sets an unhealthy example."

Other readers accused Plus magazine of photoshopping the model so she looked better. Anne posted: "Promoting a positive body image in women...while showing a blatantly computer-edited, airbrushed picture of a model. The hypocrisy is suffocating."

Despite the negative comments the article has received, Ms Jones is glad she chose to run the photos.

"We've received some negative comments like we're advocating eating disorders, it looks like porn, but the majority of comments - even the ones we got this morning from Norway, Australia, Malaysia, husbands and even teens - are overwhelmingly positive."

Plus-sized women across the country have flocked to the magazine's Facebook page to cheer for the campaign.

One fan wrote: "I love what you are doing for our community...

"Its about time that the fashion world sees what opportunities they are missing!"

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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