Carol posed for photos with her boyfriend, and also model, Igor Phellps. “The idea is to show that an overweight person can have a strong boyfriend, from the gym,” says the photographer. As a child, Carol suffered prejudice for being black, and even in high school, in Florianópolis (capital of southern state Santa Catarina). Being overweight was for many years the grounds of malicious comments. “When you’re chubby in school you are a joke for everything. In fact, anywhere you will have a nickname.” After she started studying fashion in college, she started to face being overweight naturally. “Especially after starting to date a guy who stayed in the gym. And there, there are a lot of fit girls sand he ‘chose’ me, I became more confidante,” says the model.
“There’s no black women on the runway, only mulatas,” says debutant plus size model
Models usually enter careers on the runway as teenagers, while worrying about weight and measurements. This was not the case of Carol Santos, from Diadema (a city in the metropolitian São Paulo area), who arrived on the catwalk for the first time on at age 27. And wearing a size 44/46 (US 14/16). She was to be one of the models of the Plus Size Fashion Weekend, which took place on Saturday, February 23 at Memorial da América Latina (in the west zone of São Paulo).
The winter edition of the extra large fashion event brings amongst collections, fitness fashion, intimate, casual, bridal and accessories, with models above size 44 (US 14).
Modeling for three brands, Carol knows that the plus size market needs to be cleared for African descendants. “My idea, now, is to get the designers accustomed to, thinking of asking for black women to model, and not only the mulatas or tanned people,” says Carol.
INTERVIEW WITH CAROL SANTOS:
How did the idea of modeling come up?
Carol Santos: I would help in the production of images for FWPS, and Renata [Poskus Vaz] asked me if I wanted to participate, take some pictures. She liked the result and called me to parade. This is my first work for Plus Size, I had never done anything like that. After the disclosure of the images I got used to the idea. The aim is to have the black model on the catwalk, because it didn’t have black women, only mulatas.
Have you already received invitations for after FWPS?
Renata told me early on that it is very difficult to invite black models for shows and photos. My sister also participated as a model, but because she is lighter (skin color) than me, she got more work. My idea now is to get the designers accustomed to, thinking of asking for black women to parade, and not only mulatas or tanned people.
What do you think of plus size fashion in Brazil?
Before, the plus size fashion was pretty ugly, all very big, flowery, more geared toward ladies. Today, there are brands that follow the same concept of PMG fashion (PMG meaning Pequeno or Small, Médio or Medium, and Grande or Large), “normal” and quite beautiful. Now that plus size is coming out with fairer pieces and thicker fabrics that don’t leave marks on the body. Still there’s much to improve, but it has already evolved quite a bit in these last three years.
Note from BW of Brazil: Carol makes references to two things worth exploring a little more in detail. First, her opinion that mulheres negras (black women) are not featured on modeling runways but mulata women are. As actress Juliana Alves and university professor Hélio Santos have pointed out, often times negras and mulatas are seen as being part of the same group even if they are defined with different terminology, with the term mulata being employed to simply denote a pretty woman of African descent, regardless of her skin tone. In her comments about visibility and her reference to her lighter-skinned sister, Carol makes a distinction being negras and mulatas.
And two, although there is clearly prejudice against obese or overweight people, the rise of overweight and obesity rates in Brazil brings up a different question. Although no one should be the target of discrimination, how do you see the promotion of Plus-Size models? Is this a way of helping decrease discrimination against people who don’t fit into society’s “norm” of what is considered attractive? Or does the promotion of Plus-Sized models promote the acceptance of obesity and sedative lifestyles that can lead to health risks?
Feel free to leave a comment….
First off I just want to say that I love this post! It is very informative and I think that it is also important to know that obesity is prevalent in other countries as well as in America. The question that you asked is also important for all women to answer but I am just one in a million, so I can only speak for myself. I believe that plus size modeling is a form of acceptance for me because growing up I dealt with issues of being a certain size and maintaining just to fit in to what someone else's idea of me should be. There was no one speaking out on my behalf like it is now so it became somewhat of an issue for me. Being a model I always heard, you have a beautiful face and flawless skin. However, you need to lose a few pounds before we will consider you. Looking back at it now even when I did conform I still was not happy with myself and trends and styles changed so much when it came to size and modeling I never knew what to expect from designers. As I see it now; and because of all the pro-activity on the size issue in modeling; I do feel like there is somewhat of discrimination on both sides. On one side, it forces more designers to include larger sized women at all costs; but on the other, it also promotes positive self-image to plus size women everywhere so much to the point that some women will do whatever it takes with their new found confidence just to promote themselves even in a negative aspect and then that's when the discrimination begins. To be honest, even I sometimes think in a negatively stereotypical way when I get emails, and photographs of aspiring over-confident plus-size women/wanna-be-models who want me to see them or use their pictures in some of my videos or articles. I see this and then I have discriminatory remarks. That being said I want to end with this because I can go on forever with this issue LOL! And this is what I want every woman of size to know: Just because you feel that you have an advocate for your size doesn't mean that your self improvement is complete. You as well as anyone else should never stop striving to be healthier both mentally and especially physically…Always strive to be healthier then the day before.
i think that this is a great post and the model is very beautiful. I think living a healthy lifestyle is important, but it's also important to not demean people who are otherwise healthy, but a bit on the heavier side. the woman in the picture may be a bit overweight, but she's not obese. as long as she is healthy and exercising, i think it's fine for her represent for her figure.but at the same time, the US has a big problem with obesity, people are just starting to address this issue and I wouldn't want for Brazil to go down that same path, so there is a fine line I guess. but i don't really see any harm with uplifting a beautiful, healthy, full-figured woman.
Plus-size women are sexy too, regardless of the stereotypes and put-downs. BTW Very beautiful model! Be proud of yourself of the body The Creator has given you.