Tag Archives: body image

Not Plus-Sized Enough, Apparently

7 May

“Curvy? Skinny? It’s All Good!” says Glamour magazine’s June cover, featuring Crystal Renn, Alessandra Ambrosio and Brooklyn Decker.

Over at Lemondrop, Liz Funk gets a little frustrated by this:  “It’s a little hard to tell which model is supposed to be plus-size.”

For me, this sort of misses the point. Crystal Renn is categorized as a plus size model not because she is fat, but simply because she is a larger size than the sample sizes that most fashi0n houses produce for runway shows, catalogues, etc. She is obviously bigger than the other two models, but they have their respective differences too – Crystal Renn is curvy, Alessandra Ambrosio is skinny, Brooklyn Decker has a large bust. Admittedly they are not representing a huge variety of body sizes but since when are they supposed to be carrying a flag for fat acceptance? I still think it is positive move – the focus is not on including a ‘plus-sized girl’ but on the fact that all three of the models have different shapes, and that there are fun and flattering swimsuits for people who might not fall into a very narrow height/weight/shape category. The different shapes of the three models seems to be a subtle foray into what could eventually be greater acceptance and representation of models of all sizes and shapes..  if people could be encouraging, rather than automatically slamming the magazine, perhaps the magazine editors would become more comfortable with taking this ‘risk’ and start actually pushing boundaries.

Some of the comments on the Lemondrop post didn’t seem to see it this way:

Women are supposed to be curvy, it’s kinda sick that society wants women to look like 12 yr. old boys.

All of you who claim to have difficulty seeing the difference, including the writer, are insane. You’ve got one beautiful well proportioned girl and two paper thin tarts.

.. as well as mentions of thin girls as “coathangers” and “skinny bitches”. This is not cool. This is just as unhelpful, hateful and ridiculous as bashing fat girls and calling them names. How can people be supportive of a greater variety of model shapes if they are so willing to spew vitriol at a particular group? The “real women have curves” chestnut has not helped things as much as it was intended to – models, skinny girls, short girls, tall girls, obese girls.. they are all real women too.

I completely understand and appreciate the discrimination and faux concern judgments that fat people encounter and have to deal with on a daily basis; I have friends and family members who fall into this group, and what they face is not nice. Artist and fat activist Natalie Perkins is currently experiencing some nasty and horrible trolling on her blog, just for daring to look fabulous in her skinny jeans. But body acceptance goes both ways. It is just as unacceptable to deride skinny women as coathangers, boyish, skeletons etc, or even bitches, tarts and sluts (which are judgments that don’t even have anything to do with weight).

I am thin and very short with a waist but not much in the way of boobs or butt (to my chagrin), my Mum is short and has an apple-shape but fabulous legs and dainty ankles, my little sister is tall and hippy but always has a flat stomach, my little-little sister is tall with broad shoulders but an enviable bust. Everybody has a different shape; ‘thin’ girls have issues finding clothes that fit them and make them feel beautiful too. It would be so nice to just wave a magic wand and say “let’s quit with the hatin’ and just accept that we are all different” but it’s not so easy. Glamour magazine wasn’t shouting “PLUS-SIZE SWIMSUIT ISSUE!” on their cover; I think they were simply trying to not pick three identically sized models, but choose models with differences. The way that the cover has been almost unanimously shot down is saddening and will possibly have the opposite to its intended effect – unfortunately, maybe Glamour will be more cautious next time they decide to deviate from a very narrow standard of shape/size.

Ultimately, it’s somewhat sad that a cover like this generates so much negativity and frustration that Crystal Renn isn’t plus-size en0ugh. It’s not her job to represent ALL bigger women; even if she were a bigger size, there would still be women bigger than her who she wouldn’t represent. The fact that Glamour decided to include a variety of shapes on their cover is a step in the right direction and if people can focus on the positivity of this, perhaps we’ll start seeing even more variety in magazines and fashion advertising.