Beauty does not have a dress size

Model and student Liz Pavalon. (Photo by Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)
Model and student Liz Pavalon. (Photo by Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)

Elizabeth Pavalon is a normal sized fish swimming in a small pond.

As a plus size model living in Tucson, Arizona, Pavalon is attracting a large amount of attention.

Pavalon is a pre-business student at the University of Arizona.  As a young and beautiful girl that grew up in a small suburb of Chicago, Pavalon was often asked if she was a model.  Pavalon said, “People always told me that I should try modeling but I would laugh.  I assumed they were kidding because I’m not model skinny, I wear a size 14.”

Years went by and after many more empty compliments, Pavalon decided to give modeling a try. She remembers being at her first open audition amongst the size zero models.  Pavalon said, “I remember thinking that this is me and I am comfortable with myself.”  It was this confidence that set her apart from the rest and got her a contract with Ford Modeling Agency.

Liz Pavalon walks to an accounting test at the University of Arizona. (Photo by Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)
Liz Pavalon walks to an accounting test at the University of Arizona. (Photo by Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)

Katie Masters, Director of New Faces and Development with Ford Modeling Agency said, “I was there to sign Elizabeth, she had the personality and confidence that we were looking for.” In a sea of pretty faces Pavalon had set herself apart from the rest.

Masters said, “There are tons of pretty girls out there but she was personable and loved herself, her look was unique.” Inner beauty does not have a size and this is the message that Pavalon and other plus size models want to portray.

Gale Welter, Coordinator of Nutrition Services at University of Arizona Campus Health said, “It is more about fixing the feelings inside then it is about fixing the weight.”

In a world where social media envelops most people’s thoughts and time, Welter said, “You almost can’t be a woman and be happy about your body when you’re always comparing.  Woman see someone else and say she has got it all and even that girl is self-conscious.”

Welter said, “I just want girls to know that health and confidence is so sexy, I just want girls to know that they are good enough just the way that they are.”

Pavalon said, “I will never be a size four, even if I only eat healthy and workout every single day, but I still love myself.”  Pavalon is optimistic for the future of plus size models.  Pavalon said, “I think that plus size modeling will be more accepted over the years and I’m glad to be able to represent the normal sized girl.”

Only 20 years ago, the average model weighed only eight percent less than the average woman.  According to PLUS Model Magazine, the average model today weighs 23 percent less and the average plus size model has gotten smaller to.

Ten years ago, a plus size model usually wore between a size 12 and size 18.  Recent studies show that the average plus size model today wears between a size six and size 14.  The average size woman wears a size 14 or larger and most clothing stores sell only size 14 and smaller.

Pavalon hopes that modeling will continue to give her unique opportunities to be a role model for “normal” sized girls everywhere.  In the future, Pavalon hopes to move to Los Angeles or back to her hometown in Chicago to pursue her modeling career further.

Chelsee Moe is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact her at chelseemoe@email.arizona.edu.

Click here for a word version of this article and high-resolution images.

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