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Robyn  Lawley in an ad for British lingerie brand Boux Avenue

Boux Avenue

We so rarely see fashion models bigger than a size zero, when one does make a name for herself, we can't stop looking. Such is the case with Australian model Robyn Lawley, who recently joined the Ralph Lauren team. The six-foot-two 23-year-old beauty wears a North American size 12 and is the label's  first "plus-size" model.

As New York magazine writer Hilary Moss points out,  this also makes her the focus of a lot of awkward attention - as a recent Good Morning America segment illustrated.

The first question she's asked: How much does she weigh? The model batted that one away, saying simply, "Well, I'm a size twelve, and I think weight doesn't really matter," reports Moss. (Has anyone ever asked a skinny model her weight? Would any of them answer?)

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The interview "took more of a turn toward Cringe Town," as she writes,  when Lawley was asked to recount her struggles with dieting and eating disorders when she was a mainstream model.

Many viewers of the show took to the ABC website to blast the idea that Lawley is plus-size at all. One commenter, Dyan Egan wrote, "The message of this segment should have been that Robyn is a 'reality-sized' model, not a plus sized model. You missed the boat of doing a lot more good with this story than you did with pitching Robyn as the first plus sized model for R. Lauren."

Lawley has addressed that question herself, as the Blisstree site points out.

She is quoted there as saying, "I believe it's a tag we should do without. It segregates us from the mainstream fashion world, which means we only go to castings and jobs when our size is requested. I believe all runways and print pieces should use an array of sizes. After all, who is buying the clothes in the end?"

It's a conundrum - how to normalize images of non-skinny women without overdoing it? Lawley herself doesn't appear to be too worried about the challenges of being a newly-minted role model. She's too busy posted pretty pictures of food and delectable recipes on her Tumblr page.

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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