Interview with model Tara Lynn

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Tara Lynn happily swings in the plastic bubble chair at her agency, Heffner Management

When I first flipped through V Magazine’s “Curves Ahead” plus-size photoshoot in January 2010, I was struck by the images. It was the first fashion spread I’d seen where the models—Candice Huffine, Marquita Pring, Michelle Olson, Tara Lynn, and Kasia P—were styled in real, fashion-forward clothing. There was no pandering, no hiding or camouflaging perceived figure flaws. No tips in the sidebar on “How to dress 10 lbs. thinner!” Instead, on display: Kohl eyeliner, red lips, windblown hair, and, yes…unapologetic belly rolls. Fuller thighs. Plump, sumptuous arms. Could it be? Is what is regarded as “beautiful” becoming a little more inclusive?

One need only to refer to Glamour’s “the woman on page 194” model Lizzie Miller, and the overwhelmingly positive publicity the photo generated to see just how much consumers are enjoying seeing these less than conventionally perfect bodies in print. In the photo on page 194, Lizzie is seated in her underwear in a spread about feeling comfortable in your skin. She has an average-looking belly—one that isn’t completely flat. Reader comments on Glamour’s blog numbered in the thousands, the vast majority of them praising Glamour for printing a photo of a body many women can identify with. Subscriptions to Glamour skyrocketed. In response, Glamour is now including more fuller-figured models in their regular fashion photo shoots (i.e. not designating them to special spreads or separate online content, like Vogue Italia’s “Curve”.)

Locally, Seattle model Tara Lynn, co-owner of Capitol Hill’s Meza Latin Fare, has seen her career take off meteorically, too. Following V Magazine’s spread, Tara Lynn landed the cover and a twenty-page editorial spread in April’s French Elle.

When I walked into Tara Lynn’s agency for the interview last week, I was expecting to meet with a nearly six-foot tall glamazon. Instead, Tara Lynn sat swinging one a plastic bubble chair, make-up free except for a slick of hot pink lipstick, her hair worn down and wavy. She was dressed in a navy blue button-down shirtdress belted at the waist, and wore a pair of jeweled flats. She was shorter and much smaller than I expected—maybe 5’7”—and looked like any young girl you’d pass on the street, albeit uncommonly beautiful. She was warm and engaging the entire time we spoke, praising the French Elle photoshoot as thoroughly enjoyable, with a “warm lively energy”, and (perhaps the best part?) “a couple glasses of wine at lunch”. (The photoshoot can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/y8fkdjf)

A few questions with Tara Lynn:

How do you feel about the label “plus-size” as opposed to just being a regular model?

I personally don’t label anyone regular, straight, or plus. I’m not super fond of plus, but full-figured seems like a nice term. Rather than drawing a line saying you people wearing this size are here, and the rest of you are there, I’d rather use the term “full-figured” model, because it describes the shape of the body, as opposed to just a size.

What’s a misconception about full-figured modeling you’d like to dispel?

I don’t think “plus-size modeling” is taking off just because we, as a nation, are getting heavier and heavier. I think it’s more that we’re becoming more accepting of other forms of beauty. I also don’t think about my size as much as some people do—my job is just to show up, put o