Plus sized model Jennie Runk

Jennie Runk (clothes on) decided to gain 20 pounds to become a plus-size model. Photo: Heather Braden

Amidst all the discussion and debate sparked by the Glamour "plus-size" model picture, Jennie Runk (one of the in-the-buff beauties, below, far right) talked to StyleList about "the" naked photo shoot, plus-size models vs. plus-size women, rarely wearing clothes and her decision to gain weight in order to become a model.

StyleList: Before you started your modeling career, you had to decide to either lose weight [to become a standard-sized model] or gain weight [to become a plus-size model]. How hard was it to make that choice?
Jennie Runk: Once I got over the stigma of being called "plus-sized" it was a really easy decision to make. I wasn't interested in trying to work my body down to a size 2/4. I'm still not convinced that's possible for me. It seems like it's a lot easier to maintain the figure of a plus-sized model. I'm naturally a size 10/12. It would be setting myself up for failure, and dieting is not that much fun.

SL: What size is considered plus-size? Is it different for models than it is for the average woman?
JR: The average size for a woman in this country is a 12, so I guess, technically, "plus-sized" starts at 14. In the modeling industry, however, models larger than a size 4 usually find more work doing plus-sized, but most clients in the plus-sized division won't hire anyone smaller than a size 10 or so.

SL: What size are you now?
JR: I'm currently a size 12

The Glamour picture that got everyone talking. Model Jennie Runk, far right. Photo: Matthias Vriens-McGrath for Glamour


SL: Were all the models on the Glamour shoot plus-size, in your opinion?
JR: No, I think we're all just average-sized, healthy women. Just like straight size models, who represent average women, are much, much smaller; plus-sized models are not actually plus-sized women, we're just bigger than the average model.

SL: What's your response to people who say the Glamour shoot did not feature plus-size women, but normal size, or just a little larger than the usual models?

JR: I agree, although I don't think the focus of the story was to be about plus-sized women? We're not trying to put down the skinny girl, we're trying to create a movement for every woman to love and embrace her body no matter what kind of body she has. So much of advertising and fashion portrays only one kind of body, and that's super tall and super skinny. I think not only should there be more plus-sized models in fashion, there should also be more petite, pregnant, ethnic, etc. I think ever woman should be represented equally -- we're all beautiful in our own ways!

SL: Do you see a change in attitude happening in the fashion industry toward body image?
JR: Yes. The Glamour shoot is really groundbreaking. It's showing people that there is such a thing as normal, plus-sized healthy women in the media and this is what they look like.

SL: What was the atmosphere like on the Glamour shoot?
JR: It was really fun, really relaxed. We ended up getting comfortable on set even after we disrobed. We're all comfortable with our bodies. You didn't hear anyone say "I feel fat."

SL: Some people were upset that the photo shoot was of nude models and not showing all of you wearing the latest fashions and how they fit. What's your reaction to that?
JR: We're trying to get a point across that women -- all women -- should love their bodies. What better way to show how comfortable we are in our skin than to bare it all? I personally love and adore my body. At home, to be honest, I rarely even wear clothes. I'm most comfortable naked anyway. I sleep naked, do homework naked, read and watch TV or movies totally naked.

SL: In your opinion, which celebrity has an ideal body?
JR: I've always looked up to Brooke Shields, people used to tell me I looked like her. I've read that she's a size 12.

SL: What do you love most about what you do?
JR: One of the things that sticks out is when I was a girl scout leader and I was showing my troop my Vogue shoot. I pointed out the difference between how I looked in the shoot and how I looked in real life. I told them, "Don't ever look at picture in a magazine and assume that's what you have to look like, because it's not real."

Read our exclusive interview with plus-size model Crystal Renn, also in Glamour's photo shoot (above, far left) -- the beauty talks about her new book "Hungry" and her struggle with anorexia (she weighed 95 lbs.!).

And see what happened when "normal-sized" models hit the runway at London Fashion Week.