Skinny Models Out, Plus-Size In?

Whitney Thompson is the biggest winner yet on "America's Next Top Model."

ByABC News
May 16, 2008, 5:18 PM

May 19, 2008 — -- Could stick-thin models be on their way off the runway?

That's what some are wondering after Whitney Thompson became the first plus-size model to win "America's Next Top Model" last week.

Thompson, 20, is a size 10. She's not at all fat by conventional standards; she's slimmer than the 34 percent of Americans older than 20 who are obese. But compared with the impossibly thin models dominating runways around the world, she's big, and she's considered plus-size in the modeling industry. She's heard that her entire career.

"I've stood there in the middle of an agency with everyone pointing at me and saying 'four more inches off the hips would be great,'" Thompson said. "I don't recommend any girl putting herself through that, but I did and I stand here unchanged, physically.

"Right before I left to do the first episode in L.A., I was with one of my best friends and she said, 'You're fat. You are not going to make it in this competition,'" she continued. "So every week that I made it, I was like, 'Ha!' Obviously, we're not friends anymore."

Thompson is the latest plus-size woman to make waves in the modeling industry. Earlier this year, Chloe Marshall became the first plus-size woman to make the finals of the Miss England competition.

"I know I will stand out from them, but in a good way," the 5-foot-10-inch tall 16-year-old said in March. "I want to bring plus sizes back, and I want to show teenagers that you can be beautiful whatever size you are."

The British media don't agree. In April, columnist and former Miss England judge Monica Grenfell lashed out at Marshall in London's Daily Mail, writing, "Who does she think she's kidding? What she's demonstrating isn't bravery but a shocking lack of self-control. Instead of flaunting her figure, Chloe ought to own up to the truth. She is fat, and she got that way by overeating."

Thompson has her critics, too. A day after she scored the title of "America's Next Top Model," her Wikipedia page was hacked to say "Anya Kop [a stick-thin "Top Model" finalist] should have won you fat b**** ... you don't deserve this." (Thompson's page has since been restored.)