The secret high-pressure world of plus-size models

After coming in third on 2018’s “America’s Next Top Model,” plus-size contestant Khrystyana Kazakova was thrilled to land a contract with a top-tier agency. But the feeling didn’t last long: The size 8 beauty was soon informed that she wasn’t “big enough” to net the most competitive jobs.

“I was told that if I gained more weight, I would make more money,” says the 34-year-old blonde. So the Siberian-born Brooklyn resident changed up her diet and exercise routine, replacing cardio workouts with weightlifting and squats, and indulging in fatty, protein-heavy meals.

Within two months, she gained 10 pounds, but not the way the agency envisioned. “They want you to have an hourglass shape,” she says. “Before firing me, [they] implied that I looked bloated.”

As the market for plus or “curve” models expands, a new impossible beauty standard is emerging. While Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, Reformation and a few other brands are praised for their inclusive sizing, models say that behind the scenes, the pressure to be the “right” kind of plus is greater than ever. They say agents and clients alike are seeking a specific body type: the chiseled hourglass figure, embodied by Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.

[Read More]