The curvy model who walked the Chanel runway is sparking debate about what’s considered ‘plus size’

On March 3, 26-year-old model Jill Kortleve became the first plus-size model to walk in a Chanel fashion show since Crystal Renn walked in the 2011 Cruise Collection show in May 2010. Throughout Fashion Week, she also walked for big brands like Jacquemus, Valentino and Alexander McQueen.

Admittedly, casting Kortleve was a big move for the brands. However, it also sparked a debate online about what’s considered “plus size” in the fashion community. (For reference, Kortleve is 5′ 9″ with a 31″ waist, according to Muse Management.)

“I cannot fathom how this lady is classed [sic] as a plus size model,” one Twitter user remarked. “The fashion industry really need[s] to re-evaluate their classifications.”

“This woman is not plus size,” another Twitter user said. “I’m plus size 3X — put me on the runway and then let’s celebrate change in the way we view and accept women in the fashion industry.”

Though responses to Kortleve’s debut have been mixed, she’s been using her Instagram platform to try to promote body positivity and inclusivity. On March 3, she reflected on her experience walking the Chanel runway for the first time, noting that “there’s a much-needed change happening on the runway” and that she’s “proud and … grateful to be a part of it.”

She continues in her post: “This whole month has been a dream and I never expected that it was even possible for me to walk on the runway, let alone be included in the amazing shows this season. Thank you. My heart is filled with gratitude and love.”

According to the CDC, the average woman has a 38.7-inch waist. Meanwhile, Cosmopolitan notes that the fashion industry considers “plus size” to be size 8 and above. Kortleve might not be plus-size by society’s standards, but her presence on the runway is a huge step toward representation of all shapes and sizes.

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