Give Your Body a Voice: The BODY IMAGE Project
It is because of articles like this – “Plus-size models are better role models? Fat chance!”- that we need projects like this – The BODY IMAGE Project.
There are, of course, many other reasons but this article by Kyle Smith from the New York Post really got me fired up. I know that the Post is known for its flashy headlines and sensationalism and that this article was written for cheap hits, and I hate to give it any more attention, but I simply cannot not talk about it.
Here are some of the most offensive comments:
- “Over at V magazine…the most recent save-the-whales picture layout features a herd — sorry, group! — of semiclad plus-sized models.”
- “If we can’t make them [overweight women] feel shame in this country, then maybe skinny models are our last resort.”
- “If the fashionably starved are the only thing keeping the final 40% of us from turning into human zeppelins, they’re not as useless as you think.”
And that’s just a glimpse of the whole thing. I understand that obesity is a huge problem in this country, but this ranting, mean-spirited article is not the way to advocate healthy lifestyles. All this article does is poke fun at overweight women exclusively (the author, a man himself, doesn’t refer to men at all) and even worse encourages people to shame these women into losing weight.
Smith also claims that when he worked for a women’s magazine (I wonder which one) they would do a “Fat-Is-In” cover story every six months. I was worried about this too, but after seeing some images from V Magazine’s issue I’d argue that their “size issue” is more than a “Fat-Is-In” cover story (although I could be wrong, time will tell). Pictures from the issue show these “plus-size” women in real fashion spreads modeling top designers like Ralph Lauren and Versace.
Crystal Renn, one of the “plus-size” models included in V Magazine’s issue was also shot opposite a size 2 model wearing the same outfits in an 8-page editorial spread called “One Size Fits All” because the models wore the same editorial samples. While some have argued that shooting the women side-by-side puts them in competition of one another, I’d argue that doing this does two great things – (1) it gives “plus-size” models more editorial attention, (2) it shows that “plus-size” women really aren’t all that “plus-size” and look great in designer clothes. Maybe the side-by-side spread encourages readers to compare the two models, but at least in my analysis I found that Renn looked just as good, if not better, than the thinner model, but I guess Smith would disagree.
Luckily, after reading his Post article I came across The BODY IMAGE Project which helped undo some of the damage reading his article caused. The campaign asks: How do you feel about your body? and features weekly stories from real people discussing their body image. The videos intimately demonstrate the complicated relationships we have with our bodies as a result of the constant messages we receive that tell us that to be beautiful we must be thin.
Check out this week’s story:
This is such a powerful campaign. It’s the Vagina Monologues of body image! Listening to these people (yes there is a man’s story) share their stories in such a raw way really hit me. The shame that Smith encourages us to inflict on overweight women is what is destroying many people’s self-esteem and body image. Fearful of not measuring up to today’s beauty standards, we become highly critical of our bodies. In fact, we’ve become so preoccupied with our bodies and looks that we often forget to examine ourselves from the inside, for who we are – not what we look like or how we measure up on the beauty scale.
We need to continue these conversations on body image to examine why we are so critical of our bodies so we can come to a place where we can celebrate all of us. Giving these issues – our bodies – a voice, like these videos do, will help us get to that happy place. Articles like Smith’s only serve to further break us down.
Check out my favorite video:
What do you think about The BODY IMAGE Project?
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Image from V Magazine, Spring Issue via Jezebel - http://jezebel.com/5439851/v-gives-the-world-a-plus+size-shoot-not-afraid-to-flaunt-its-curves/gallery/