FULL-FIGURED and MATURE WOMEN 

  

 

I feel that a large proportion of the control garments illustrated in catalogs reviewed in this study are intended for full-figured women (and/or women who feel that some parts of their bodies may be more generously endowed than what suits their taste or idea of style). 

 

If this assumption is true, then I find it puzzling and disappointing that the vast majority of models used to display such garments are not representative of the size and shape of many of the ladies intended as buyers. I think this is a sad kind of censorship - to ignore full-figured ladies and opportunities to present them in a favorable, positive light.  

 

Thankfully, there have been exceptions. I've tried to select some of the more attractive and representative images spanning from 1936 into the 1990's. Several full-figured models were depicted in Sears (1936), Montgomery Ward (1943), and in the Charis trade catalog (1943). Images with the model's face being partly obscured or cut off (as in 1943 Montgomery Ward) was an all too common occurrence.  

Two large busted models are shown in Sears (1958), and National Bellas Hess (1960). Models with large busts do not automatically have proportionately larger figures. However, these models generally appeared to have generous figures - although they were not really large women, overall.

 

A smaller model in the fall edition replaced the full-figure model wearing the midriff waist cincher shown by Montgomery Ward (spring-summer 1960, lower right). However, the model used in the spring catalog was certainly a better representative for a customer for this product.

 

It appears that Sears and Lane Bryant may have used the same model in 1958.

 

 

Lane Bryant sold stockings sized for full figured ladies as early as 1958. (The idea of "extra outsize" may not have been especially attractive to a prospective buyer! However, the image used here seems like the essence of voluptuousness.)

 

                           

Sears (1971) showed a mature full-figured model. Montgomery Ward exhibited a more broadminded attitude in 1978 with the introduction of "Big Mama" queen size pantyhose. The brand name wasn't exactly flattering to full-figured ladies, unfortunately! However, the image of the three ladies was certainly intriguing, since they were shown topless - covering their breasts by their crossed arms. Additionally, the two ladies on the left and middle represent a broadening of the range of models seen heretofore.

 

Sears (1986) had special advertising for BBW hosiery for several years. This idea may have been picked up several years later in a TV sit-com called "Babes". I think it wasn't very successful and may not have run a complete season. A couple of the shows revolved around one of the sisters trying out to be a model for "Hefty-Hose". I watched a couple episodes and enjoyed seeing the full figured actresses, but making the ladies the butt of "fat" jokes disgusted me.

 

 

Catherine's (earlier "Catherine's Stout Shop") used full-figured models in their store catalogs - including an example illustration to represent the range of girdles and bras in their inventory for full-figured ladies.

    

Montgomery Ward in 1981included a section in their main catalog for larger sizes. However, I think the largest size model was primarily selected based on her full bust size. The panties were offered in sizes up to 58 and certainly were intended for full-figured women. I would love to have seen those modeled!  

Aldens and Roamans carried the Exquisite Form "Big Gals" line for extra large size ladies. The lady pictured on the package (image from catalog) was the largest I've ever seen in a regular catalog. However, neither she (nor any similarly sized model) was ever shown actually modeling this line of underwear. The combination of her picture and the image of the girdle on a smaller woman seemed strange to me. I'd have liked to have seen how this panty girdle looked on her.  

 

 

JC Penny published a "Fashion Plus" catalog that included somewhat full-figured ladies. In the mid-1980's, it was called "Women's and Half Sizes".  This catalog was later renamed as "Liz Baker" - for their house brand.  

 

Some specialty mail order catalogs focused on full-figured garments. One was Lady Annabelle (Boston, MA) in the early 1980's. Another was Big Beautiful Girl in 1991.  Most of the items in those catalogs fall into the fancy lingerie category, (rather than every-day bras and girdles). However, I couldn't resist including the lovely lady featured on the cover of the BBG catalog.

 

In the mid-1990's, JC Penny changed the name of its specialty catalog again, to "Sizes 16w & Up". The body briefer shown below is from that catalog.  

In the late 1980's and early 1990's the premier (my opinion) catalog in this specialty category was published by "Just My Size".

 

The model shown in the example from 1992 is almost the epitome of my ideal full-figured model. More examples will be shown in following sections. However, in my mind, Just My Size exhibited the most positive and healthy self-image for full figured ladies found in any advertising I've ever seen.  

 

 

.. continued