Plus-size model Tara Lynn nabbed the cover and more than 20 editorial pages in the April issue of Elle France. Is this proof that fashion might set its parameters for acceptable female beauty a little wider, or just a fad?
Like some of you, I had reservations about the styling of the cover. When I discovered that the baker's uniform/cricket whites came from Hermès, and cost over $3,200, even this slightly better picture of it couldn't save the look for me. Also: that bag is fug. And costs $2,800.
So this is a special issue; you could argue that Elle is doing a little bandwagon-jumping, after the success of other high-fashion efforts at inclusivity — like V magazine's January "Size" issue, which also featured Lynn in this Solve Sundsbo editorial — revealed the overwhelmingly positive response that well-styled and beautifully shot shoots with plus-size models can elicit. But putting out the magazine equivalent of a Very Special Episode has its limitations, and I still wish that more plus-size models would pop up in the fashion titles without the back-patting and fanfare. Also: I am so over the sexy, sultry, all-nude plus-size shoot, and the rather obvious hints it makes about larger women and, ahem, appetite.
But the short article with Lynn, available here in French, manages to not be totally infuriating (even though the writer exclaims over Lynn's freakish ability to, gasp, look at pictures of herself without cringing in horror, as though her comfort with her body were somehow strange). Lynn, who is 27 and has modeled for two years, earned an M.A. in linguistics, and co-owns a restaurant in Seattle with her boyfriend, called Meza. She once spent two years in France as an au pair, and speaks the language fluently. She tells Elle:
"One night when I was living in Chantilly, Mathilde, the little girl I looked after, came home from school and said, very innocently: 'Tara, the other kids at school, they say you're fat. But I love you anyway.' I told her that I loved her to, and I tried not to cry. The very next day, I started jogging an hour and a half daily. I lost 30 kg in two years, but my diet was insane. I was always hungry. I was constantly aching and stiff. It was bad. So I let myself go and re-gained 10 kg, and I felt happy again, so I went to the agency Ford NYC to try modeling. I feel good about myself today, but not just because of my job. I think it's more because I took back the control over my own health, and I accepted the fact that my silhouette will never match up with the image of beauty with which we are constantly bombarded."
I, too, have a big, dark knitted poncho, and when I wear it, I want to twirl and run around like I'm a superhero and it is my cape.
There are a lot of bizarre and seemingly unrelated props involved in this shoot, which is the work of photographer David Oldham and stylist Nora Bordjah. But I believe I have definitively pinned down the narrative here. You see, first, Lynn rides her bicycle to work in tidy preppy gear. It's an ordinary spring day. But Tara Lynn is no ordinary woman.
For, you see, her secret dream is to be a gymnast! Probably because they have the best leotards.
So she runs away to a secret gymnast training camp somewhere in Eastern Europe.
The training camp has its own farm, and all the gymnasts have to grow their own food. But it's not like Communist or anything; she still gets to wear Lanvin.
Then, having honed her craft, she escapes on a motorcycle!
And makes it back home to Seattle, where she dances the night away in a really cute dress.