Aussie plus-size model Sabine Gruchet makes her mark in London
Sabine Gruchet, based in London but originally from Sydney, is a leading plus-size model. She talks about how she set out as a ‘straight’ model but changed direction after putting on weight, and discusses what we mean by the term ‘plus size’.
Sabine Gruchet did not start out her career intending to be a spokeswoman for plus-sized modelling. In the beginning, she was a ‘straight’ model with a promising career ahead of her; the Tahitian-born Australian model had landed magazine covers throughout Australia and Asia and was well-known for her role as a model on Wheel of Fortune. But, when Gruchet was at the peak of career, the unthinkable happened: she started to put on weight.
London-based Gruchet started modelling at the age of 15, after being discovered in a local Sydney supermarket. It was not long before she was booking jobs with world-renowned companies including Hyundai, Cannon and Weight Watchers. But the pressure to stay slim continued to grow as her career as a model flourished, and Gruchet claims that the industry’s focus on remaining thin had the reverse effect on her body, with her weight increasing to the point that she was no longer considered a ‘straight’ model.
Gruchet thought that her career was a model was over, when it appeared that her weight-gain had denied her the ability to achieve her dreams. But it was not long before she discovered that there was another option: plus-sized modelling. With her dreams remaining alive Gruchet became an icon for curvy women, and one of the industry’s most prominent advocates for healthy body image and self-esteem.
“Unfortunately we live in a world where the average woman wears a size 16, but a size 10 model is considered plus sized,” Gruchet told Australian Times. “These unrealistic images hurt the self-image of all women, making it hard to feel acceptable and beautiful just as you are.”
Represented in the United Kingdom by BMA Model Management, Gruchet has become one of the most well-known and recognisable plus sized models in the industry. She has worked in both commercial and editorial photo shoots, while continuing her work as a television presenter with Bid Up TV. She was recently contracted as an in-house model with Marks and Spencer, primarily promoting the store’s lingerie and sleepwear range. She believes that utilising plus sized models is slowly becoming a more popular trend in the industry, particularly when it comes to the commercial aspect of the business.
“The hard truth is that the current misconception about full figured fashion is that plus styles need to be less fashionable, and that full figured women always want to be covered up and not draw attention to themselves,” she said. “So many curvy women are proud of their bodies and want to show them off. In a time of great economic difficulty the bottom line is that retailers should be scrambling to market to a woman with tangible dollars to spend on a product that she feels is respectful and representative of who she is.”
Gruchet believes that much of the stigma associated with full figured modelling comes from a general lack of understanding about what constitutes ‘plus sized’ within the fashion industry. Plus sized clothing typically begins at a size 12 in the United Kingdom, or a size 10 in the Australian system.
Gruchet said: “When I say what I do so many people respond with: ‘But you’re not plus size’. It’s a silly word really. The word should be normal size, since we don’t call slim women ‘minus size’.”
Aside from modelling, Gruchet has started her own fashion line called Corset Fits which sells corsets with sizes ranging from 8 to 24. She believes that it is important for the industry to begin providing plus sized women with options that will allow them to feel sexy and confident in their own bodies.
Gruchet suggests aspiring models, both straight and plus sized, contact a reputable agency in order to begin developing a portfolio of work to show potential clients. She advises prospective models not to be conned into paying ‘joining fees’ at an agency, and to have reasonable expectations of success within the competitive world of modelling. She advises: “Agencies are not easy to get into; it’s not just about being curvy. You must have the height, face and be in proportion which is very important.” But, on the more optimistic side, “you can also join some casting agencies where you can upload some pictures and get some pictures done. There are a lot of photographers wanting to gain experience, and you will get experience too.”
Sabine Gruchet can be booked through BMA Model Management, and contacted through her website at www.sabinegruchet.com.