Do you remember the woman on page 194?
Her bare-it-all image in Glamour magazine’s September issue stirred quite the buzz early this fall when it hit newstands. With thousands of comments and over a million page views on glamour.com the picture of “plus-size” model Lizzie Miller struck a cord with women across America.
Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive was inundated with positive feedback on the picture and promised readers that Glamour was listening and “committed to celebrating all kinds of beauty.” I was skeptical that Leive would hold true to her promise, but I was pleasantly surprised when I turned to page 198 of this month’s issue and found not one but seven beautiful “plus-size” models starring back at me in a two-page spread – all au naturale.
The models – including now infamous Miller – have been assembled by Glamour to “continue the extraordinary dialogue on body image” that began with Miller’s picture just a few months ago. In the article Glamour reaffirms its commitment to showcasing a wide range of body types – even despite the challenges presented by the fashion industry.
Did you know that samples of designer clothing are almost always cut to a size zero to four? Without sample size clothing in larger sizes, finding current fashionable clothing for “plus-size” models to wear is a difficult challenge. Fashion editors can’t just buy “plus-size” models clothes from stores because those designs would be off the racks and impossible to purchase by the time magazines hit newsstands.
Fed up with the limiting sizes of sample clothes, British Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman wrote an angry letter to scores of top designers in England and America. In the letter she accuses designers of supplying magazine’s with “minuscule” garments for photo shoots thus making them hire models with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips.” Shulman continued, “We have now reached the point where many of the sample sizes don’t comfortably fit even the established star models.” Having such a powerhouse of the fashion world pen such a letter is an important (and hopeful) step, but only time will tell the impact.
What I found refreshing in Glamour’s article was the recognition that “plus-size models aren’t all that ‘plus.’” According to Glamour senior bookings editor, Jennifer Koehler, the sample-size problem means that any model larger than a size four will have trouble getting work because she won’t fit in the clothes and a woman over a size 6 could be moved to the plus-size division. Jennie Runk, one of the “plus-size” models pictured in the article’s two-page spread, even admits to wearing padding to fit the “plus-size” clothing she is given to model because she is too small.
The absence of sample clothing in larger sizes is prohibitive to magazines who want to book “plus-size” models and creates a high demand for thin models who fit the designs. In their continued support of portraying a wider range of body types, Glamour promises to support any designer who manufactures clothing that can be used on full-bodied models. The magazine also promises to not only give “plus-size” models work but the “same great work straight-size models get, partnering with top photographers, stylists, and makeup artists.”
I was also pleased to see that this month Glamour pictured Scarlett Johansson – a celebrity who has advocated for a healthy body image frequently in the past – on the cover. Most recent she authored a blog on the Huffington Post in response to rumors that she crash dieted to lose 14lbs while training for an upcoming film. “I’m frustrated with the irresponsibility of tabloid media who sell the public ideas about what we should look like and how we should get there,” Johansson said. “The press should be held accountable for the false ideals they sell to their readers regarding body image — that’s the real weight of the issue.”
So, what do you think? Is Glamour living up to its promises of celebrating “all kinds of beauty?” Are you encouraged by this month’s issue? If so, what will it take to get other magazine’s to follow suit? If not, what can Glamour and other women’s magazine’s do to portray a wider range of beauty?
It’s important that we continue this discussion – loudly and passionately – so that real changes are made to escape the thin-beauty ideal we have all become so accustomed to.
What I’d like to see is the picture on page 198 on the cover and the women sporting today’s latest fashion trends in clothes that fit and celebrate their bodies.
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Photo courtesy of glamour.com - http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2009/10/these-bodies-are-beautiful-at-every-size