Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is showing a plus-sized model really 'progressive'?  

In the latest issue of Glamour magazine, those who turned to page 194 saw this photo:

According to the editor-in-chief of Glamour:

It's a photo that measures all of three by three inches in our September issue, but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands. (As editor-in-chief, I pay attention to this stuff!) "I am gasping with delight...I love the woman on p 194!" said one...then another, and another, andanotherandanotherandanother. So...who is she? And what on earth is so special about her?

Here's the deal: The picture wasn't of a celebrity. It wasn't of a supermodel. It was of a woman sitting in her underwear with a smile on her face and a belly that looks...wait for it...normal.

Women loved seeing size 12 Lizzi Miller in Glamour because they were finally seeing someone they could relate to - someone who didn't make them feel terrible about themselves because they were reminded that they are just as beautiful.

I'm impressed that Glamour is doing something that is (sadly) so rare in the world of fashion magazines, and it doesn't even stop there. An article entitled "How to Never Have Another Fat Day" seems like it will be filled with shallow tips on how to "dress thin" but is actually a series of photos of a curvy woman over 30 days accompanied with her thoughts about her body over the same time period, showing that her body never changes, but she still experiences her good days and her "fat days." It's meant to show that you don't always have to lose weight to love your body, that perhaps it's more important to think positively.

But despite Glamour's good points, I still see conflicting messages. It took me all of ten seconds to log onto their website and find articles entitled "3 Surprising Fat-Burning Foods" and "9 Things That Might Be Making You Fat" accompanied by photos like these:

...As if they're trying to tell us, "Don't look like this!" Once in awhile, fashion magazines will feature slightly larger models to appease their plus-sized readers and "fight" beauty standards, but what always remains consistent is their hypocrisy. You cannot tell us that big is beautiful while shoving diet tips in our faces. The Bust magazine blog summed it up in an April post: "With a few awesome exceptions, advertising, TV, and the rest of the media is still dominated by impossible-to-attain stick figures." And with fashion magazines making only half-assed attempts to be inclusive of real women, that's how it's going to stay.

What next?

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7 comments: to “ Is showing a plus-sized model really 'progressive'?

  • August 25, 2009 at 1:30 PM  

    seriously, I feel like this happens all the time.

    One article will read, "feel sexy at any age", and then there will be 50+ ads for face cream and medications to make you feel and look younger (you must of course maintain your looks, because only the young are beautiful)

  • September 6, 2009 at 4:08 PM  

    I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:

    They're all gorgeous. The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

  • January 23, 2010 at 3:46 PM  

    If more women were comfortable with the way they look, these issues would have declinated a long time ago. The writers of the articles and creative minds behind self degrating commercials probably aren't underweight, or considered to be "in shape." When dealing with issues it seems to be trendy to put others down by saying skinny is in and if you're not "perfect" you'd better hurry up and get that way. Plus sized women in magazines is an improvement but why not put them on the cover instead of a half-page article. That is just a pleaser for the women feeling self concious.
    Bodies are supposed to get better and better to meet the "norm". Being emaciated, to me anyway, is not attractive. Women should strive to be happy for themselves not to make others happy.
    The hypocracy of the media is another issue. Articles about being beautiful as you enter older years and others about feeling good at any weight and being beautiful at ever age and weight are confusing. Why do magazines have an advertisement for diet pills and cream to make you look and feel younger the page after an article telling us size 14 women are the most beautiful?

  • January 23, 2010 at 8:36 PM  

    I think it's great that glamour is taking steps to show plus sized models. more importantly than the label "plus size" is the fact that teenage girls often compare themselves to the girls they see presented in the media. as a teenage girl myself, i have personal experience. many of my friends have self image and/or eating issues/disorders because they are constantly comparing themselves to the supposedly "perfect" girls that are successful models and actresses. they do not realize that being 5'9" and 120lbs is not healthy.
    The media has such a huge influence on the way girls think of themselves and it is great to finally see "normal" looking girls appear in magazines instead of "perfect" looking ones. because in truth, no one is perfect. and although no one is simply normal, it is great to see not the skinniest girl be comfortable enough with herself to model topless in a magazine for the world to see. hopefully this new era of models will help boost the self image of teenage girls.

  • January 23, 2010 at 9:12 PM  

    I think the fact that we are calling these women "plus-size" is in itself an indication that we have a long way to go in terms of being accepting of other body sizes besides the stick thin figures that we usually see in these magazines. We don't call them "minus-size" after all. There body size is considered normal anyone who is bigger is plus the normal or "plus-size". How can we expect magazines to show more "normal people"(normal being "plus-size" now) that we can relate to when we don't consider ourselves normal to begin with. If we stopped using terms like "plus-size", I think we would see models of this size more frequently.

  • January 25, 2010 at 11:51 AM  

    I agree and believe that by showing more plus-size models that women would begin to think more of themselves. They would start to love themselves in a new and beautiful way and be much more positive in every walk of life. The images would help them learn that in order to be happy you need to first love yourself and take care of yourself and until the media changes the images and the way the women's bodies are often portrayed, women will continue to fight the stress and pressure to be skinnier instead of embracing their figure and loving it. Every woman is beautiful in one way or another because we are all unique!

  • January 25, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

    I think there needs to more of these kinds of articles in magazines. I give Glamour props for having this in there magazine. It makes all the "normal" women out there realize that being super skinny and having no flaws is impossible. It also shows that women who are normal shouldn't be ashamed of it. In todays society you see all these women in magazines who are skinny, tan, beautiful hair. You never see a typical American, but this picture just relates to more women than a picture of a size 0 model would. I think the media needs to start portraying more of the size 12 people so women will stop being so obsessed with becoming unhealthy skinny