'Plus-Size' Model Leah Kelley: We Need More Size 8 Models

12/03/2013 09:00 am ET

While the fashion world scrambles to find a place for so-called "plus-size" models, it seems the models themselves are the ones least caught up in all of the labels.

Leah Kelley, a successful "plus-size" model at a size 12, tells in a new interview that she's "fine" with the label -- namely, because it's an imprecise designation in the first place. "I'm tall, so my size 12 is stretched out, but it is my size, it is considered plus-size and I have no qualms about that," she said. "I have naturally thin friends, and they’re people too; they're beautiful on their own."

Kelley further explains her stance, arguing that the industry should embrace all body types, not just the polarized categories of "plus-size" and "straight-size":

"People say that I don't look like what a plus size model should be, but the world isn't only size 14 anymore than the world is all a size 0. The fashion industry as a whole should showcase the variety of types of bodies, not just tiny or plus size. What about a size 8 model? There are so many people who are a size 8, and there are no size 8 models!"

We first spotted Kelley after pal Robyn Lawley tweeted a picture from an impromptu photo shoot, and we knew she'd be a name to watch out for in the modeling realm. Her sentiments echo a lot of the dialogue out there these days -- in fact, fellow plus-size model Crystal Renn has even championed that sample sizes be a size 8, rather than a size 0, so that designers have the freedom to cast more diverse women.

Fortunately, this struggle is becoming less of an uphill climb as agencies like Jag and IMG put all types of models, even those that fall in that gray area of sizing, in the same casting pool. Plus, with major department stores bringing in plus-size mannequins, it seems that there truly is a demand by women to see a broader array of body diversity when shopping for clothing.

But the most important thing to remember, according to Kelley, is to embrace your natural size and not get caught up in fitting into a category. "If they just put 'model' in the headline of a story about me, some people say I'm too fat; other people say I'm too skinny," she says. "We're all fine as we are." Amen.

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