One of Israel's leading plus-size models, Shay Zanco, has revealed she is launching a plus-sized lingerie brand for young women, embedded with deep emotional investment for the cause.
The 21-year-old star has been featured in campaigns for Victoria's Secret, ASOS, and Beyonce's Adidas x IVY PARK brand. She has also been photographed by Vogue, and secured herself a spot on Forbes Israel's "30 Most Promising Young Adults Under the Age of 30" 2023 list.
As she continues to make waves in Israel and abroad, Zanco is launching a collection, designed by herself, for the first time. She describes her style as unconstrained and claims she doesn't have one particular taste.
"I have a unique taste in clothes, neither consistent nor normal," said Zanco. "One morning I can wake up and decide that I only wear colorful clothes. The next day - vintage, or as if I was in the movie 'Matrix,' or a classic style. I don't like to limit myself."
In cooperation with the British brand Oola Plus Size Lingerie and Israeli online shopping outlet Terminal X, Zanco created a trendy lingerie collection for plus-sized women, out of a desire to expand the marketing of plus-sized attire for young women. Her line features bras (including strapless) for sizes ranging from 38DD to 42G, as well as underwear and short tights sized 42-52.
Given Zanco is plus-sized herself, the marketing of the brand is especially convincing, and the buyer can be sure the brand's designer is aligned with the values it promotes.
"Girls today want to wear a strapless dress to prom, and there is no selection of strapless bras," she said. "I started buying plus-sized bras already in 8th grade. Why did I have to walk around as a 13-year-old feeling like a 50-year-old woman? When you buy an item for a lot of money, you want to feel hot, sexy, and full of confidence. That's what fashion chains and brands try to sell, is it not?"
Zanco added that for people who wear bigger sizes, the attitude gives off a vibe of "you should thank us that we even have clothes and underwear in your size."
She is motivated to make plus-sized girls feel that they are seen and is largely driven by her personal experiences and childhood traumas.
"I'll never forget that as a girl I would come home from the mall crying. Since then I stopped going to malls in Israel. How can I go to a store that advertises that it has plus sizes, only to discover that they don't? It makes you think that not only are you different, but you are also not okay."
Zanco struggled with a lot of body image issues throughout her life and even lost weight. In her natural state, she is somewhere between size 42 and 48, and at her skinniest, she reached size 40. Even at that point, she said, she was constantly told to lose more and more weight.
Aside from her size, Zanco also struts an exotic look that deviates from what many in Israel consider the traditional beauty standard - blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Some people think I'm Spanish, some say that I look South American or could be an Arab, and I have friends of mixed ethnicity from Sweden who think I look like them," she shared. "It doesn't make sense that the beauty standard in Israel remains constant when in so many other places in the world this would be unacceptable."