Twitter Erupts Over Supposed Plus-Size Model Tweet

June 23rd 2016

Taylor Bell

When it comes to promoting body positivity and creating healthier beauty standards for women, social media is often quick to speak up. But as Narjas Zatas writes in a piece for Indy100, that well intentioned desire to speak out can sometimes get in the way of learning the full story.

Here's some context.

On Wednesday Twitter erupted after English actress Catherine Tyldesley posted a tweet criticizing a Calvin Klein ad, claiming it unintentionally body-shamed and reinforced unrealistic beauty standards for women.

The ad featured model Myla Dalbesio with the words, "Calvin Klein's first plus size model," a descriptor that Tyldesley did not think was appropriate for Dalbesio.

But Calvin Klein never used the words "plus-size" in their ad.

In fact, the image of Dalbesio is from 2014, and the text appears to have been added by someone else after fact. Nevertheless, people were outraged by the image.

Natat points out that, in fact, the ad originally sparked controversy after ELLE magazine and other publications took it upon themselves to refer to Dalbesio as a plus-size model back in 2014.

The backlash may have been misdirected, but there is something to be learned here.

In light of the recent social media dustup, Dalbesio responded on Instagram by posting the original ad with her response.


A photo posted by MYLA DALBESIO (@myladalbesio) on

Dalbesio says she knows she's not a plus size model, but points out that she's had her own struggles in the modeling world.

"I don't know how or why but I guess this topic is inexplicably trending in relation to me once again, so I'm going to address it quickly. I am not plus size. I have never been plus size. Which is confusing, I understand, because for the first 8 years of my modeling career, that is the segment of the industry that I worked in and the board at my (former) agency that I was signed to. Why is that? Because 10 years ago, when I started modeling, no "straight size" board would sign anyone above a size 2-4 (and even size 4 was pushing it). Working under that label was the only way I could work. Luckily, things have changed in that regard."

And, she notes that even though she's not plus-size, she still feels like she can serve as a positive role model.

"I also think it is important for women that are my size to see themselves represented. Let's not begrudge them (or me) for that. One of the reasons I post naked selfies is because I want other women to see that their own bodies are both normal and beautiful. I remember a scene in Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, where Elizabeth Olsen took her clothes off, and I felt like I saw myself in her body, something that I rarely, if ever, saw represented in mainstream Hollywood. It made me feel good, almost like I was better understood. Can we all just work on understanding each other? Body shaming, whether it be too fat, too skinny, too athletic, etc. is unfair for all."

So there you have it. Calvin Klein didn't call Myla Dalbesio a plus-size model, and she doesn't refer to herself as one either. But, she still believes she can serve as role model for those learning to love their bodies.