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?
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