Marquita Pring was just featured on Vogue Italia's website under the headline "a new star in the curvy universe." You might have seen her walking Jean Paul Gaultier's spring 2011 runway or in V's size issue. And she's currently working on a major editorial with a big name photographer but she won't tell us more.
When you're talking "plus size" models, Crystal Renn is the name that comes to mind. She's outspoken about size in the modeling industry, even if she's no longer technically "plus size" (whatever that means). But that's the point--why do we need labels? Pring says she was honored to be called a "a new star in the curvy universe" by Vogue Italia, but she's hoping they call her a "new star in the MODELING universe," next.
We chatted with Pring about labels, the industry's fixation with size, coping with pressure, and her dream job (it might surprise you).
How do you feel about labels like "plus size" and "curvy?" I hate to be categorized. I am a model. I do many of the same jobs as others models regardless of their size, race, or gender. I don't feel a need to specify my size when telling people about my job. I think the term "plus size" has a negative connotation. Personally, I wouldn't even refer to a woman who's a size 26 as "plus size." I find it interesting that if ever I do refer to myself as "plus size" when describing what I do for a living people always have the same reaction. "WHAT!?! OH MY GOODNESS I WOULD NEVER CONSIDER YOU PLUS SIZE!!!" And I always agree with them. I'm proud to set an example for women of all sizes as a bigger curvier model, and I'm so thankful to get letters from women of all sizes thanking me for promoting a more realistic healthy image. As for the word "curvy," I see nothing wrong with it. I don't need to stress it as my title but I am a curvy, voluptuous, sexy woman and I think the word "curvy" relays a much more positive image. You can be a size 4 or 14 and be considered "curvy."
How did you break into the modeling industry? Growing up I was always the biggest girl in my grade. I had always been told that I had "such a pretty face," but everyone seemed to feel the need to stress that it was only my face that was so pretty, never any mention about me just being beautiful, only my face. It was always a compliment but I always wondered why just my face? Around the age of 15 I really wanted to give modeling a try. I figured I could do beauty work but I never even considered I could model clothing. My mother and I went to a casting agency call in Canada where I met with dozens of agencies. A few were interested, some told me they'd need me to get much smaller but I knew that wasn't happening. At the time I was seriously active in competitive basketball and my body was extremely toned and fit. There wasn't much weight for me to lose. Luckily there were a few agencies telling me I could work at the size I was but I needed to do a test photo shoot so they could see if I was comfortable in front of the camera. I was, and I brought my photos to an agency an hour after the shoot and they signed me on the spot.
What are your modeling goals? What's your dream job? Currently my dream booking would be landing a major beauty campaign. Also, I recently read an article in British Vogue about the Mulleavy sisters, the designers for Rodarte--and curvy women themselves I might add. Their prints and designs are unique, flattering, avant garde, and so feminine. I would love to work with them. I also want to do as much editorial work as possible. It's so liberating and I learn so much about myself and my career with every experience. And of course I would love to break into the high end fashion industry such as YSL, Rodarte, Marc Jacobs, and Prada, etc. I keep getting little tastes here and there and I just want more, more, more!!!.
Crystal Renn has brought a lot of attention to "plus size" modeling. Why do you think everyone is so fixated by size issues? Because not only is it a more attainable image but it's finally something different! We've been manipulated by the media and fashion industry to believe that there is only one body type: super skinny. The majority of people in this world will never be as thin as they've been warped into believing they need to be. Crystal's been promoting a message that is so positive and beneficial to our society: health. It doesn't matter what size you are, just be healthy. You can be a size 2 and be far less healthy than a person that is a size 14. There is no right or wrong size if you're healthy and fit.
Do you ever feel pressure from the modeling world? How do you cope? I have yet to feel pressure about my size--I happen to be quite proportionate so my size has yet to be a hindrance. The only pressure I've felt thus far has been from me. I take my job very seriously and I strive to be the best I can be. If ever it seems a client or photographer needs more from me it is my responsibility to give them more. I cope by having a positive attitude and by being open to direction. After all, I'm hired to work with a team to create a specific image.
What are your career highlights so far? •V Magazine Size Issue with Solve Sundsbo •Jean Paul Gaultier S/S '11 Show •Levi's campaigns back to back to back •Levi's commercial airing this month •And soon to be my biggest accomplishment yet, an editorial in a major magazine with a photographer I've been dreaming about working with for years! I'm beyond ECSTATIC!!
What changes would you like to see in the industry? Crystal recently spoke about the industry needing more diversity. I couldn't agree more with her. Not only would I love to see models of a range of sizes but I'd also love to see more models of different ethnicity. Not just in specific magazine issues targeted to one specific race but in magazines and campaigns everywhere. Also, I think designers need to expand their size range. Its so upsetting seeing a beautiful dress and trying it on only to find out its the biggest size they make and still 4 sizes too small!