Not long ago, only women with slender waists and thin legs could dream of walking down a fashion show runway. However, times have changed and the old idea of slimmer women being more attractive is slowly fading away as plus-sized fashion is making an entrance onto the global stage.
This change also includes new publications targeting this growing market. In a pioneering way, 66100 is the first plus-size fashion magazine to be published in Korea and the second in Asia. The name joins the female size 66 and the male size of 100, which are the largest ready-to-wear sizes. The publication’s ethos is that one is not defined by their size number and everyone has equal potential.
66100's editor-in-chief, Kim Ji-yang, is also plus-size fashion model, and runs an online shopping mall under the same name where she identifies her items and her fashion philosophy with the phrase: Big and Beautiful.
Kim was the first plus-sized model to debut in Full Figured Fashion Week, America’s largest plus-sized fashion show. This solidified herself as a pioneer in Korea. She is also the first Asian to appear on the cover page of the Caribbean Fashion Week website. After traveling around the world as a model, she came to rethink the standards of female beauty and has been fighting against discrimination and prejudice ever since then.
“I wanted to make a magazine that would put someone like me on the cover,” Kim said.
Serving as an intern at a magazine company when she was younger, Kim was exposed to the process of magazine production. Her first goal in producing the debut volume of 66100 was for it to look professional. As plus- size fashion is not entirely main-stream, Kim figured that if the editing layout was clumsy or too unique, the essence of the whole concept could be lost.
“I once saw a news report on a teenage girl who tried to commit suicide because she was bullied for being obese,” Kim said. “That was when I decided to stand up for those in agony because of their appearances. If my magazines and activities become renowned, maybe I could be someone’s last hope.”
Kim’s vision was to always make 66100 more than just a magazine and she offers consulting services on what fashion would best suit readers.
“What I do is never about covering up body shapes,” Kim said. “We consider finding clothes that match the customer’s figure as our foremost priority. We are beautiful as we are. Why cover it?”
Along with consulting services, Kim also holds seminars for people who are afraid of taking pictures of themselves from body image concerns. According to Kim, she emphasizes that being photogenic comes from a positive self-image.
In Korea, where judgments on appearances are prevalent in many scenarios from family matters to job interviews, managing a publication and services that cater to plus- sized men and women has not come without its difficulties. According to Kim, evidence for this is shown to her by unsold magazines that are piling up where the storage costs are outweighing the sales. Breaking her idea into mainstream Korean thought is an uphill battle, despite the media attention she has received for her efforts.
Regardless of the setbacks and battling conventional thought on what it means to be beautiful, Kim gathers inspiration from other mediums that challenge conventional norms that have been built up throughout history.
“The movie ‘The Greatest Showman’ is touching because it shows that many different skin colors and different bodies exist,” Kim said. “Intensely expressing that me and my body are beautiful because they are different from other people is what I think fashion is.”
With no signs of letting up, fighting for change on societal notions of body shape and what is considered beautiful, Kim faces a long-road ahead. However, she hopes to live in the world where her publication 66100 is no longer needed and where society reaches a point where respecting diversity is the norm and that crying out for acceptance is considered strange.