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Plus-size models in Glamour: A sign of change or tokenism?

5th October 2009

Plus-size models in Glamour: A sign of change or tokenism?

The “Naked Fat Women” edition of Glamour is now out in what the fashion mag’s editors promise will be an “extraordinary dialogue on body image.”  But, as those same editors remind readers, Glamour has been on the cutting edge of body acceptance since the early 1990s — they’ve put Queen Latifah on the cover twice and “frequently feature other fuller-bodied celebs and models.”  Is anyone else as dubiously surprised as I am by this?

Glamour now promises to do the following:

  • A continued commitment to showing a wide range of body types—and, of course, racial diversity—in our pages, including fashion and beauty stories.
  • A promise to give the best plus models not just work, but the same great work straight-size models get, partnering with top photographers, stylists and makeup artists. Because a generous helping of fantasy, in our view, is fabulous—as long as it’s extended to women of all sizes.
  • An ongoing celebration of the so-called imperfections, from nose bumps to gap teeth smiles, that make us all unique.
  • Enthusiastic support for any designer who manufactures chic clothes we can photograph on full-bodied models. Isn’t it time for changes like these? Reality, after all, is everywhere.

What do you think?  Is this just lip service or has Glamour truly seen the body acceptance light?  Do you think we’ll see any true size 20-plus models featured in its pages anytime soon?

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 11:01 am and is filed under Body Image, Body-Affirming, Fashion, Fat Acceptance, Rachel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 57 responses to “Plus-size models in Glamour: A sign of change or tokenism?”

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  1. 1 On October 5th, 2009, Frankincensy said:

    Just to the right of the text of the second linked article is a link to another article entitled “Exactly What To Eat To Lose Weight”. That pretty much answers any questions I might have had about Glamour really honestly caring about body acceptance for more than a couple of token issues.

  2. 2 On October 5th, 2009, Kristie said:

    Tokenism, and yeah, they’re never going to quit with the “how to dress to hide your hideous flaws” and diet articles.

    Forgive me for stepping off the FA wagon here for just a moment (I’ll be back–I like it here), but if I had a body like any of these plus-size models, I’d be thrilled. THRILLED. I’m never going to. They’re still as unattainable as any other fashion model, as far as I’m concerned.

    I suppose with something this ingrained, baby steps are a big damn deal. But how many average women, let alone plus-size women, are going to see this picture and still feel lacking? I’m guessing many.

    Plus, I’m pretty sure the ultra-thin models are “full-bodied.” (What, are they beer?) I’ve yet to see one walking down the catwalk missing limbs or a torso. So again, despite their good (marketing) intentions, Glamour is missing the point. Fat women don’t need to look down on skinny women to feel better about themselves. How about a mix of every size, without comment. When it’s no longer a big deal is when it will be sincere.

  3. 3 On October 5th, 2009, Samira said:

    I mean isn’t the elephant in the room that the plus size model…well she isn’t really PLUS SIZED? We are talking about “larger” women in an industry where a gross amount of the normalized subjects are excessively thin/skinny or underweight. That is why I remain dubious. I don’t believe that in many cases we are even actually talking about in-between fatties here. They are just fat in world where the standards of being thin are extremely high.

    So on one hand I applaud them for busting through these rigid body codes-but I also am troubled by the way these magazines are celebrating them self for embracing categories that are complete Hollyweird bull shit.

  4. 4 On October 5th, 2009, No Celery Please said:

    “A continued commitment to showing a wide range of body types—and, of course, racial diversity—in our pages, including fashion and beauty stories”

    Um, yeah – I count 1 girl in that picture who doesn’t look “white”

    Way to go, racial diversity!

    That being said – even tokens can eventually add up to real change.

  5. 5 On October 5th, 2009, Melissa said:

    I’d be surprised if I ever saw size 20 plus models in my life time in a magazine like Glamour.
    I think there’s some tokenism definitely. I”m sure what they considered flaws is quite minor.

    It’s certainly good to see this but I don’t know if they can fully step out of that fashion magazine mind set in total.

  6. 6 On October 5th, 2009, Rachel said:

    I mean isn’t the elephant in the room that the plus size model…well she isn’t really PLUS SIZED?

    Exactly. In the article I linked to above, even Glamour countered objections that it was somehow “promoting” obesity that Lizzie Miller isn’t really fat… she’s just barely overweight. They also presented one of their weight-loss bloggers, who suggests that showing plus-size models will somehow spur plus-size women to lose weight. I have no doubt that Glamour might be open to featuring more plus-size models — that is, models who wear sizes 8 – 14 and maybe even a token 16 — but I truly doubt that we’ll be seeing any true size-20s or higher anytime soon. I would love, of course, to be proven wrong.

  7. 7 On October 5th, 2009, Sniper said:

    Every woman in that picture looks has the body I was shooting for when I was starving myself. Fat acceptance? Not so much. At most, it’s a babystep. With one foot.

  8. 8 On October 5th, 2009, D said:

    Yep, I agree with the other ladies on this one. At the peak of my eating disorder, these types of magazines were my “bible.” Even though Glamour is shooting for body acceptance in their pages, there are still so many contradictory message imbedded inside them. Like, seeing a “plus size model” or an article that says “how to love yourself no matter what” and then turning the page to an advertisement for diet pills or an article about how many calories you should consume to lose weight. They’ll never get it completely right until they stop featuring articles about losing weight and dieting.

  9. 9 On October 5th, 2009, Living400lbs said:

    For the fashion world, featuring women who the CDC would classify as “normal weight” is a big step forward.

    Outside the fashion world….?

  10. 10 On October 5th, 2009, Fluffycat said:

    There is something about this that also bothers me, maybe the fact that they are all naked and kind of eroticized, touching each other and looking at the camera in a way that reads seductive and objectifed to me.

  11. 11 On October 5th, 2009, Meems said:

    What bothered me most about that article was the “throw away” sentence that says: “obesity is a significant health problem.” Yeah, or not. Basically they’re saying that it’s ok not to be model thin…you know, as long as you’re not really fat. *sigh*

    I still don’t know, though. Like a previous poster said, even tokenism can add up to change after a while. And, speaking as a size 12 woman with some pretty fucked up body dysmorphia, it really is good for me to see women at or around my size in these magazines. I would definitely like to see more variation, but it could be a start.

  12. 12 On October 5th, 2009, Bree said:

    They’ll never get it completely right until they stop featuring articles about losing weight and dieting.

    Exactly, and also start featuring women, not models even, who are size 20 and up for other things besides illustrating the obesity epidemic.

  13. 13 On October 5th, 2009, Sniper said:

    there are still so many contradictory message imbedded inside them. Like, seeing a “plus size model” or an article that says “how to love yourself no matter what”

    This is bitterly hilarious. You too can love your body! Even if you… are young, tall, gorgeous, fit, with fantastic hair, beautiful features and a body that looks like it should be reproduced in marble. The rest of you, try not to think about how how much you fall short of this!

  14. 14 On October 5th, 2009, Jess said:

    I’d go for tokenism. I’m under the impression that all of these women, while “not the norm”, are still “the norm”, if that makes any sense. I’d feel more moved if it seemed there was a wider selection of body types, and not just “plus model” body type.

    Now I got this issue today, with it’s “we’re body accepeting!”, but a few pages later… Jillian Michaels hops out in two pages of “LOSE WEIGHT?!” ad (I can’t find it, of course, but it’s pretty obnoxious), the requisite SlimQuick ad with the woman drawn to look like her thighs should touch, but don’t (it’s an odd peeve of mine), and a two-page Reebok ad for shoes that are supposed to give you a “nice booty”.

    Once Glamour went on about how it was soooo accepting of all body types, and it was sooo great, but then goes on to imply that I am unhealthy and abnormal. Right. They try to tell you how to take care of your hair, “for everyone!”, but the girl who matches me… her hair is not like mine. None of their hair is like mine.

    What I guess I’m saying, is that this all feels pretty fake, coupled with the ads and what I feel is still a lack of diversity. If you want to lose weight, that’s fine, but there just seems something off about celebrating that they’re so accepting and diverse, but then having all of these ads for weight loss and articles about hiding your “flaws” and such.

    Glad I only paid $1.50 for my subs…

  15. 15 On October 5th, 2009, Lisa said:

    I think it’s awesome. Would it be very cool to see them just start publishing using size 28 models? It sure would. BUT: it’s completely unrealistic to expect that Glamour is going to go from featuring size 0 models to size 20 + models ‘overnight’. While those of us who are operating with raised consciousnesses (is that a word??) might roll our eyes a bit at their self-congratulation, we should also make sure Glamour (and any other mainstream fashion press that moves towards size diversity) gets lot of positive feedback. Because it’s the positive feedback/$$$ that will cause them to continue to make steps forward.

  16. 16 On October 5th, 2009, Raven said:

    Featuring just size 20 models is just as bas as featuring just size 0 models. What we need is diversity, and that is what they are trying to do. I’m rather happy that they are at least taking the first step, because its not like FA is going to spread overnight.

    I find it sad that most of you are so negative about this change. Isn’t this what we wanted? Isn’t the acceptance of more body types what you wanted? All I’m hearing is a good for you with a snicker on the side. For women who actually read glamour (I personally do not) and who are plus sized and feel totally rejected, this may help them accept their bodies. So why the negativity?

  17. 17 On October 5th, 2009, Liza said:

    There is an actual plus-sized girl in the current BUST. Just sayin’

  18. 18 On October 5th, 2009, FatNSassy said:

    I agree with Lisa. Sometimes I get just as frustrated with the SA movement as MSM for its mental block on how the later works. I think this was a significant step considering that the purpose of MSM is to sell products. They are NEVER going to stop featuring diet and exercise ads as long as they are profitable. This was a risk for them to take. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it is a step in the right direction for those working within the system with the constraints they are under. I think they should be encouraged. And the comment section gave everyone in SA a chance to express their opinion and push the bar even further. Plus, those models are so gorgeous they speak volumes themselves and are more subversive than all the protests in the world!

  19. 19 On October 5th, 2009, Jackie said:

    Well it’s what we wanted, but it also is tokenism. It shouldn’t have to be a big deal, it should just be a part of the magazine. I see this a lot in the Autism community, articles always acting as if the person is an example of Autism, instead of simply a human being. As if being Autistic somehow makes them mysterious, and different from other “normal” people.

    This is the type of tokenism I’m seeing here. Such as with women of certain ethnicity used to be considered exotic, and marketed in stereotypical ways. Now it seems fat women are the new exotic, the “I like to look at them naked, but it would be so taboo to actually date one!” forbidden fruit type of person. Represented, but still distanced enough from being considered normal, to keep shallow people comfortable.

    So, I don’t know if this is something we should be happy about. It brings up the question that if we’re going to be noticed as people, instead of just as “fat”, we need to declare how we want to be noticed. Explain that we’re just people, and acting like we’re some sort of forbidden fruit or fantastical exotic creature, is just as demeaning as othering us for being fat. I don’t think we should be taken just being noticed alone, as something to celebrate. Being noticed as human beings, rather than objectified as some sort of exotic breed, is what we should strive for.

  20. 20 On October 5th, 2009, Mulberry said:

    Some magazines have attempted to show a variety. Anyone here remember BBW from the 1980s? Yes, it was about fat women, but it featured, at various times, short fat women, old fat women, supersize fat women… and it eventually folded. I didn’t notice many other magazines trying to fill the niche. If someone can show me a current magazine with such a philosophy that has a robust circulation, I’d love to see it.

    As for the above picture? I see it as a photo of women dressed in all the cutting-edge haute couture fashions made by prestigious fashion designers especially for women who wear double-digit sizes.

  21. 21 On October 5th, 2009, Lisa said:

    I just went to the Glamour website to see how they present this article. It’s the first thing I saw when the page loaded- a good sign. There’s a few links to content, including a gallery of photos. I’m inclined to agree with most everybody else – these women ain’t plus-sized.

    Also, the gallery has a caption about Lizzie Miller: apparently she’s been a “plus-size model since age 13.”

    Hudda wha? Thirteen-year-olds can be plus size? What the hell happened to puberty?

  22. 22 On October 5th, 2009, jaed said:

    Personally, I am up for anything that even begins to normalize the bodies of normal/average-sized women. (Normalizing all bodies would be even better, but “extremely thin to average-sized women are OK” is a significant improvement over “extremely thin women are OK, all others are too horrifying to be seen in our pages”.)

    It’s not ultimate perfection in a single step, but: Is this an improvement? Yes, yes it is. Is this improvement likely to make things worse in any other area? I can’t see how. Should this improvement therefore be encouraged? Yes, yes it should.

  23. 23 On October 5th, 2009, Bethface said:

    First off I want to say that I completely agree with everything that Kristie wrote. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    What I would really love to see was instead of patting themselves on the back for putting these poor “fat” models in magazines. Lets talk about putting happy healthy models in the magazine. Who cares if her jeans are a size 2 or a size 22.

  24. 24 On October 5th, 2009, Jackie said:

    Lisa, didn’t you hear? The government has now mandated that puberty is a sign of complete unhealthiness! That if a girl shows any signs of puberty, they should be put on a strict diet until they achieve the proper weight to never show any development at all!*

    *I am being extremely sarcastic, and nothing of what I said should be taken as truth.

  25. 25 On October 6th, 2009, Sarah said:

    If someone can show me a current magazine with such a philosophy that has a robust circulation, I’d love to see it.

    What exactly are you trying to say here? BBW magazine folded because it was too costly to publish, not because it didn’t have enough subscribers. It also went through an ownership change, which doesn’t bode well for any magazine.

    Did you not read that Condé Nast just cut a bunch of their magazines, including Gourmet, which has been in circulation since 1941? Vogue readership is also on the decline – and sales go down when fashion models are featured on the cover. It’s extremely difficult to publish in the magazine market, and very few magazines make it. 90% of new magazines fail.

    Glamour is making a positive step by including these models – they are responding to the positive feedback they got from one little photo of Lizzie Miller.

  26. 26 On October 6th, 2009, Shinobu said:

    I got this magazine today and to be honest, I don’t know how I feel about it. When I sat down and ordered the magazine subscription with the points I saved from drinking Diet Coke, I was feeling down on myself and probably looking for a reminder that I’m not good enough. I managed to boost my self esteem a bit in the month or so between then and getting the first issue, but seeing this article makes me feel a bit shaky.

    Being told Lizzie Miller’s height and weight and that she exercises and eats a balanced diet and is just barely overweight, according to her BMI. Mentioning the assitant editor that was able to motivate herself to lose weight by telling herself she didn’t need to have Barbie proportions.

    I wonder if they felt they needed to have that naked photo because they all look thinner when they are dressed and not much different from the average models you see in magazines.

  27. 27 On October 6th, 2009, Kath said:

    Like several of the commmenters above, I too struggle with these women (who are stunning, don’t get me wrong) being called “plus sized” when at what, size 12, they’re actually BELOW the national average.

    Yes, it’s fabulous to see some more realistic women in a magazine, but why are we allowing them to be called “plus sized” when they are nothing of the sort?

  28. 28 On October 6th, 2009, Alex said:

    I think that Glamour’s statements do sound very shallow, and I’m really annoyed by the fact that they have to explain themselves for featuring someone who’s “barely overweight” and justify it with “oh, she eats healthily and exercises, so she’s not a bad example…” As if the emaciated size 0 women with sunken eyes so often featured are excellent examples of health.

    At the same time, I applaud the positive step they’re taking. I think (and hope) it will be taken further, and that someday women who are size 20 will be sexy, stunning covergirls. Size 12 is still a HUGE step, though, from a stringent 0/2.

    Again, like people have been saying, this should be about diversity, not about only featuring pluses and the very small.

    Also keep in mind that a lot of readers are not FA-familiar types and *are* genuinely shocked and pleased to see a woman who’s gorgeous, “a little bit overweight” and comfortable enough with herself to be naked in front of a camera. For these people, and for the many women in our country who believe that the only acceptable beauty lies in extreme thinness, this could be truly eye opening.

  29. 29 On October 6th, 2009, Moe said:

    It’s marketing. There was such big fuss over Lizzie that a money light bulb went on somewhere. Of course that could just be the pessimist in me.

    I’m going to disagree a bit here. I think the women shown are plus size. Anything bigger than what we have been subjected to in fashion magazines is plus size. Are they plus size in the clothing sense. No, although Kate has gone up to size 16 at different periods of her life. I think we are starting to get hung up on who is considered “plus size” or not. What is important is variety beyond what we have been given.

    I still think this is overwhelmingly good exposure (no pun intended) for body acceptance. Whether Glamour will keep their promise remains to be seen. I guess it is up to their readers to hold them to it. I doubt however that we’ll see anyone above a size 20.

  30. 30 On October 6th, 2009, Living400lbs said:

    Thanks for the mention of BBW. Sometimes I think I’m the only one old enough to remember it! :)

  31. 31 On October 6th, 2009, GoJacks said:

    I was excited to see this website because I totally disagree with the unattainable and unhealthy body shape that our society promotes. However, it scares me that many of the readers of this website want to see 20+ models. The women depicted in this Glamour article have healthy shapes. To sell clothes/beauty products to young girls with the use clinically overweight women would be just as wrong as using anorexic models. We shouldn’t be seeing size 20+ because it’s not healthy. Yes, there is a wide range of healthy weights for many different women and we should celebrate that. I don’t think we need to be idolizing either extreme end of the spectrum.

  32. 32 On October 6th, 2009, lilacsigil said:

    Australian Cosmo used to feature a variety of body sizes (with no trumpeting about how awesome and “real” they were) back in the 90s, for at least the 2 years I was reading it. They’d have clothes on women from model-size to size 16 or so – in the very same feature. I have no idea if they still do this, but it was great to see various sizes and shapes (they also featured short women) treated as attractive, normal and valuable. That’s worth a lot more than Glamour’s publicity shot here. If Glamour keeps incorporating – not separating – various sized women in a few years, get back to me!

  33. 33 On October 7th, 2009, Meryt Bast said:

    Wow, Kate Dillon lost quite a bit of weight. Where are the size 16s?

    That said, at least this is a start.

  34. 34 On October 7th, 2009, Raven said:

    I’m glad GoJacks finally said something on people arguing for +20 sized women in magazines. Like he said, its not good to have an anorexic model in magazines that young girls and women read, but its not good to have +20 sized women in there either.

  35. 35 On October 7th, 2009, Ayame said:

    Excuse me, GoJacks and Raven, but being size 20 or higher does NOT mean that someone is unhealthy. Not to mention that guess what, we need clothes too, and we’re just as deserving of high-quality, stylish, attractive clothes as any other human being. We deserve to love ourselves, be represented in a positive light, and not be subjected to shaming just like everyone else too. So yes, we are just as deserving of wanting, expecting, and having mainstream models who look like us as anyone else.

    Regarding the models…yeah. I’m not going to be impressed until I actually see someone who looks like me (5’3, US size 26/28, carries most of the weight in my stomach) being presented in a positive way SOMEWHERE in the mainstream media. I can’t even find people who look like me modeling for places like Lane Bryant, and it’s extremely frustrating. I’m glad to see efforts at increased diversity in the media, but frankly this sort of thing doesn’t seem to help with the marginalization of larger fat women (or fat men, for that matter). In fact, it often makes me personally feel even MORE marginalized — not only is my weight and size unacceptable socially, so is my shape, and I’m so unacceptable that apparently I don’t have the right to want to see myself and others like me represented. And it is absolutely not okay for anyone to be marginalized because of their body.

  36. 36 On October 7th, 2009, Raven said:

    I’m well aware that being +20 doesn’t mean that your unhealthy. But in all honesty, I haven’t seen many +20 sized women who are healthy and active. At that I’ve never seen any. And of course you deserve beautiful clothes like everyone else.

    But there is an OBVIOUS reason why you will never see a +20 sized woman (other than Beth Ditto) in a Glamour magazine (or any other fashion magazine) and that is because most, if not all people believe that when you get to size 20 and over, or hell size 16 for some, is when you get into the unhealthy “I could die from a heart attack/diabetes/etc.” zone. And for that reason alone, they would not put size +20 in a magazine. And I have to agree with them. I don’t like seeing an unhealthy anorexic model strutting her bones in my magazines and I wouldn’t like seeing an unhealthy obese woman either. If anything, you guys should be promoting health, or at least insisting that you want HEALTHY women to be represented in your magazines, including healthy plus sized women considering who these magazines normally cater to (impressionable teenagers and fashion obsessed women). I’ll be happy with any sized woman being represented in a magazine, as long as they are healthy.

    So the answer is yes, most people DO believe that your size and shape is so unacceptable that most believe you do not deserve representation, the same way how people feel about size 0′s being in magazines (despite the fact that there are people actually that size on both spectrums who DO deserve to be seen).

    But I will say that its quite sad what Lane Bryant is doing. I understand why they do it, but its still unacceptable to not represent your clientele in your own ads! But then again, I have long since quit shopping there since I believe their clothes to be dated, unflattering, and purposely made to hide a womans beauty, and thats just unacceptable. Its either torrid, evans, or custom made for me.

  37. 37 On October 7th, 2009, Kath said:

    Raven the point you are missing is that society is telling women that they MUST be thin to be healthy, which is erroneous. Nobody is telling women that they must be fat to be healthy. What the fat acceptance/anti-size discrimination lobby is telling people is that body size (yes, that includes obese) has no correlation to health, and therefore we wish for our culture to stop telling us that we must be thin or we cannot be healthy.

  38. 38 On October 7th, 2009, sestamibi said:

    Be glad that the money light went off in someone’s head. All prejudice has a money aspect to it — there is something in it dollar-wise for some group of people to be denied privilege. Either companies can sell them stuff to “change” themselves for the so-called “better,” or other companies can get them to work for less or pay more for items (“plus sizes $2.00 extra” — a million times 2 dollars is a not insignificant sum, and think of that $2 charged on millions of items). Also, there is always competition for places, whether in education, careers, or even obvious power positions such as governor. (See Corzine’s execrable jabs at Christie’s weight in the NJ governor’s race; people hate Corzine for the reckless, self-involved jerk that he is, so he is getting ahead in the race by running nasty commercials about Christie’s weight. Someone quoted in the NYT political coverage “helpfully” told (future) fat candidates that they might, just might, be okay if they don’t wear tight clothes, always wear a jacket and are not seen eating in public.

  39. 39 On October 7th, 2009, Raven said:

    I didn’t miss the point at all. I’m well aware what society, or magazines, or television or whatever says about my, and others weight and how they persist on how thin=healthy, despite evidence proving otherwise. But what I am saying is that I want to see HEALTHY people in a magazine in any size, not unhealthy people, and the majority of +20 plus women are unhealthy, which is why (for the most part) you won’t see them in mainstream magazines unless proven otherwise.

    As for the health and size correlation, I personally do believe that health and body size correlate, especially after seeing its detrimental effects on my own family members. But I am not enforcing the whole “thin = healthy” societal mindset. I know better than that, and have seen many people disprove that theory (along with the thin=beautiful theory). But I also know that there aren’t many healthy size +20 people running around, and if there were I would have shut my mouth long ago. Everybody deserves representation, but at what cost? Are you not thinking of the impressionable teenagers seeing these images?

  40. 40 On October 7th, 2009, Jacqu said:

    Raven, I am so proud of you. Raven is an 18 year old college Freshman. I, her mother, is so proud of her opinionated young lady. Oh, yeah, and she is absolutely correct.

  41. 41 On October 8th, 2009, Ayame said:

    Yeah, I’m thinking of the impressionable teenagers. I’m thinking of people living right now who are just like I was at that age, who wound up loathing themselves and their bodies because everyone constantly told them to lose weight, told them they were unacceptable, conflated thinness (or at least less fatness) with health, and didn’t show them any positive and healthy role models of their own size and shape. Why do women that size have to be pretty much banned from positive media representations? Guess what — there are LOTS of healthy people out there who are over size 20. I happen to be one of them. You cannot assume someone is unhealthy because of their size (no, not even if everyone you know personally over a certain size is unhealthy). I would also like to point out that nobody is obligated to be healthy for someone else, and that if someone is unhealthy this isn’t a moral issue or something for other people to shame them for, anymore than being fat or thin or somewhere in between is a moral issue or a reason for shaming. You want to promote health? Fine. Let’s go find some healthy people of all sizes — and I mean ALL sizes — and present them to the public in the mainstream media. Let’s talk about how you can be healthy by eating delicious food and doing fun physical activities whether or not your weight changes. Let’s start educating people on the potential influence of the stress caused by fat-shaming (well, general body-shaming really) on health. Let’s NOT do it by making assumptions and passing judgments on entire groups of people because of one characteristic, or telling those people they and their bodies are unacceptable and keeping them out of the mainstream media. One way might actually help everyone. The other way only hurts people for no good reason.

  42. 42 On October 8th, 2009, Raven said:

    Ayame, that was my point. I don’t see why they have to be banned either. I have no problem with people over size 20 or under size 5 in magazines, as long as they are healthy and active. I don’t know why people assume that when I say healthy I’m talking about thin (especially since I myself am a size 18 and pretty damn healthy) but I’m not in any way. And I’d love to see a fashion magazine talk about health and exercise and not just “You have to diet. You must diet. Your not worthy” 24/7 like mindless zombies. Is it going to happen? Probably not unless we make it happen.
    Assumption? That is in no way is an assumption. Try googling healthy size 20+. Other than this website, I found very little or nothing (except for this: http://plusrunner.com/about/). There are very few +20 sized women who are healthy, and for the ones that are, congratulations. I’d love to seem them in fashion magazines to prove people and myself wrong, so they could spread a good message that people can be healthy at any size. Otherwise my stance stands, I don’t want to see unhealthy people of either spectrum in fashion magazines.
    At that, what do you consider healthy? I’ve heard people call themselves healthy and pre-diabetic in the same sentence, and this is from plus sized and underweight people alike. Is healthy getting from point A to point B without having to stop because your about to fall out? Is it being able to stop yourself from overeating? Is it keeping your heart at its best while eating as healthy as possible? What exactly do you consider healthy? Because I wouldn’t want to see women with their bones poking out of their skin and passing out because they only had 200 calories that day in my magazines, and I wouldn’t want to see a pre-diabetic plus sized woman huffing and puffing after walking half a mile either.

  43. 43 On October 8th, 2009, Alex said:

    I think size 20+ women *should* be recognized in mainstream media, but, like healthy 0′s and 2′s, they are definitely in the minority. So wouldn’t it make sense to feature women all across the board, from the very small to the very large? And wouldn’t it also make sense that because most people fall somewhere in between, the size 20′s would occur more rarely than the 14′s?

    I don’t think showcasing some women who are size 20+ is promoting obesity, just like showcasing some tiny women isn’t promoting anorexia. What promotes unhealthiness is when one type of body becomes perceived as “perfect” and others are shunned or viewed negatively.

    I don’t think most people are healthy at either size 2 or size 22. Unfortunately, at this point in time anything above an 8 is considered “fat” by fashion standards. Hell, when I worked at a high-end retail store a few years ago, they only carried a few 6′s (WHICH WERE STORED IN THE STOCK ROOM AND NOT PUT ON THE SALES FLOOR). So the fact that these size 14-ish women in Glamour are photographed beautifully and promoted as a healthy standard, I think it’s cause to celebrate.

  44. 44 On October 8th, 2009, Barbie said:

    Not one of the models pictured are plus sized, or even average. The average woman is 5’5, and a size 14. My guess is that all of the models pictured are 5’9 or above and a size 10 or 12 at best. These are NORMAL……HEALTHY….Women Glamour, not plus sized.

  45. 45 On October 8th, 2009, Sallie said:

    Just weighing in here – new to this site, but the commentary is excellent.

    I think the difficult part of this discussion is that there are a lot of definitions of what’s healthy. Weight is just one component, and yes, many women above 200 pounds don’t move, and aren’t healthy. (Men aren’t either, but that’s not something that is discussed at all, I see..)

    My experience in 10+ years of running, walking, participating in triathlons, etc. is that at any given event, there is at least 10% of the population who is out there, trying to be active. Maybe they’ve already lost weight – or maybe they’re just learning to take pride in their body and what it can do for them again.

    But what I’m finding is that they are truly seeking to change their lives – not to be judged for what they’re doing. My only goal is to help encourage anyone who wants to be more active to get moving, and to make it easier for them to do so.

    Who features that story? Not many people…but I’m determined to start getting the word out…

  46. 46 On October 8th, 2009, Cassie said:

    But they aren’t fat. They look normal & healthy…

    It is depressing to me that these women are considered fat. How thin do we have to get in order to be thought of as not-fat…a BMI of 18? 17? 16?

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with us.

  47. 47 On October 9th, 2009, Barbie said:

    Not one of the women pictured are even close to 200 pounds, as I said they are probably all over the height of 5’9 and weigh around 140-160 pounds. that is a NORMAL, HEALTHY, weight.

  48. 48 On October 10th, 2009, Katy said:

    Raven, the point is, HOW do you tell someone is healthy just by looking at a picture of them in a magazine, apart from by making assumptions about them based on their weight? Is every model (of every size) goingto have a doctor’s certificate printed next to their picture? Presumably unhealthy size 8 models will be banned too; for example if they smoke and have high blood pressure.

  49. 49 On October 10th, 2009, Raven said:

    HOW do you tell someone is healthy just by looking at a picture of them in a magazine, apart from by making assumptions about them based on their weight?

    I think Sallie addressed a component of this pretty well. There ARE lots of components in determining health, including weight, activity level, waist size, and various other components along with the fact that people have differing opinions on what is healthy and what is not. While a person who is 200 pounds is unhealthy to one person, to another they can be a picture perfect vision of health. And you can tell a person is healthy from a picture even without making assumptions about their weight. Think about the model’s with jutting collar bones and ribs that look like they are about to break out of their skin. It is very obvious that they are unhealthy. Or the people with grey skin and purple lips after chain smoking for years. You don’t need to know or think of a persons weight to see someone is unhealthy. The same goes for a woman with a stomach down to her knees or one who can’t move. That is obviously unhealthy.

    Is every model (of every size) goingto have a doctor’s certificate printed next to their picture? Presumably unhealthy size 8 models will be banned too; for example if they smoke and have high blood pressure.

    I don’t see how having doctoral certification could prove someone’s health (considering that there are unhealthy doctors) but its not like magazines, fashion designers, and even the modeling companies are just given models without any choice in who they want. Its ultimately their own decision which models they want in the long run, thus they choose the criteria at which they can or cannot model, unless someone puts legislation in the near future with set guidelines on who can and cannot model in magazines or they revise how they select models based on their health.

    Anyways, sure, ban the unhealthy size 8 model. Smoking is horrible, and I’m quite sick of fashion magazines glamorizing smoking considering its many health risks. But then again, and excuse me while I play devil’s advocate, wouldn’t the smoker feel that its hypocritical to put a +20 sized model in a magazine but not a smoker?

    I hope that made some sort sense, I kinda feel like I’m talking nonsense at this point. Basically what I’m trying to say that this is a very difficult problem to address, and that if we do decide to choose models on health, how would this criteria be selected (would it be on weight, blood pressure, how fit they are, etc etc), who would enforce this, and how would this work smoothly. I wish there were a simple solution to this, but I just don’t think there is.

  50. 50 On October 11th, 2009, Mulberry said:

    I am totally opposed to banning models based on health. In fact, I am horrified by the idea. The purpose of a model, to my way of thinking, is to provide an example of how one might look if wearing a certain piece of clothing (or accessory). The term “model” does NOT mean that said person needs to be an example of sterling behavior or habits.
    These days, the parameters of what is said to constitute good health are ever more stringent. The so-called nomal BMI is set at about 5 points too low. We hear that diabetes is becoming more common – why don’t we also hear that the criteria for having it is lower than it used to be?
    How many times do we have to say “Correlation is not causation”?
    How many times do we need to explain that statistics which apply to populations?
    (Any musical people out there who are inspired to write a few more verses for “Blowin” in the Wind”?)

    Lastly, I am against the idea because the concept of health is, these days, used as a club over people’s heads. It’s become a moral issue and it shouldn’t be.

  51. 51 On October 11th, 2009, Raven said:

    Mulberry, while I do find your statement to be highly interesting, I also find it sad. I do not expect models to be picture perfect citizens, but to deny that there needs to be some form of health check on models is totally abhorrent. Have you not seen or heard of the many models dying from anorexia and bulimia to fit the standards magazine/modeling industries enforce? The industry is completely unregulated and do not care about their models. They aren’t even treated as people. They are treated as objects with clothing on them, and if their hips are too big for the next Prada show, they better lose that inch by the next week or their career is over. And from what I am getting from your argument, the reason why we should not use health as an standard for models is because women of bigger sizes would generally be rejected, which I think is wrong considering there are healthy fat women. Is that what you are saying or have I missed your point?

    While I do not understand why BMI was lowered (even though BMI is complete BS science in general and people are much taller than their early 1900′s counterpart), you also must include the WHYs of why the criteria for diabetes was lowered in the first place if you want to use that to refute someones argument. It was lowered in order prevent the effects of diabetes from progressing from a currently mild status along with decreasing the increased risk, and for the unlucky few, diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

    In what ways has health become a moral issue? I can see how it has become a social issue, since everyone feels entitled to comment about the health of another publicly to the point of yelling “Eat a hamburger” towards thin people or telling a fat woman to loss weight from the safe confines of their car, but I have never heard of it becoming a moral issue. Thats actually the first time I have ever heard it that way. Do you mean in how people are obsessed about it and how it affects them and others?

  52. 52 On October 11th, 2009, Katy said:

    “I don’t see how having doctoral certification could prove someone’s health (considering that there are unhealthy doctors)…” “And you can tell a person is healthy from a picture even without making assumptions about their weight” – Raven

    Interesting that you would choose to trust personal opinions on a picture more than a doctor’s professional opinion. So this does just come down to judging someone’s ‘health’ on their appearance. A lot of unhealthy beahviours can be covered up – many models chainsmoke because it is an appetite suppressant- makeup covers up their sallow skin – just look at pictures of Kate Moss rolling out of a club compared to after a stylist has been at her to see what a difference a bit of slap makes! But it’s hard to cover up extra weight with makeup, hair extensions and false nails.

    It’s very contradictory to one minute say “I have no problem with people over size 20 or under size 5 in magazines, as long as they are healthy” and the next ” if we do decide to choose models on health, how would this criteria be selected (would it be on weight, blood pressure, how fit they are, etc etc), who would enforce this, and how would this work smoothly.” So as usual, it comes down to, they look too fat/too thin, therefore they are unhealthy.

    My point is that the only time people seem to care about “health” is when it relates to fatness/extreme thiness. Other unhealthy behaviours don’t seem to matter. Which suggests to me that the whole “health” issue is just a red herring, used to add some moral depth and deflect the truth- that this is simple body shaming, once you strip off the “health” wrapper.

  53. 53 On October 11th, 2009, Mulberry said:

    @Raven – In an ideal world, your idea might be feasible, but in an ideal world we’d have a much bigger variety of models. I don’t believe it would solve the problem, because it would be very easy to thwart its purpose and very hard to prove noncompliance. If the industry wants you, they will find some doctor to testify that you’re healthy, if they don’t want you, they can find a dozen reasons why you’re not healthy.
    Furthermore, this would discriminate against older people (who on average have fewer years ahead of them) men (who have a shorter expected lifespan than women), and some minorities.

    Also – and very important – fat people get anorexia and bulimia too. But you don’t see them on the six o’clock news because their images don’t draw nearly as much of an audience as the severely underweight. (The flip side to that is the obesity epidemic picture of a headless fatty who usually weighs more than 97% or so of the population.)

    By “moral issue”, I mean that health issues, fat in particular, are used to judge a person’s character. If you’re fat, many people assume you’re weak, lazy, gluttonous, and that any health problem you might happen to have is caused by being fat. If you’re fat it’s clearly because you chose to be so. People should stop coddling you, and we shouldn’t allow there to be even one fat celebrity, because you’ll just use it as an excuse to stay fat. Similarly with stores that dare to sell hip, trendy clothing in what is euphemistically called plus size.

    @Katy – With all the photoshopping they do, why use real people at all?

  54. 54 On October 11th, 2009, Micco said:

    I know this is beating a dead horse, but there is absolutely nothing “plus-sized” about these women. Clearly, being “plus-sized” does not refer to someone living in double-digit clothes, so what the term really means is folks living in “excess” of thin. While Glamor may be displaying these women in a positive light, spreads like these are just as distasteful and triggering as pages upon pages of underweight models because they reinforce the false dichotomy that there’s thin and then there’s everyone else. Pandering for accolades for doing it further exotifies the experience of being something other than thin because – again – it falsely represents these shapes as “abnormal.” I think this would be a genuine (albeit tiny and pathetic) baby step forward if Glamor didn’t use the oh-so-loaded term “plus-size” or beg for recognition for its efforts. But it did. And I feel just as insulted.

    In fact, I also feel insulted that they have to reiterate their “commitment” to racial diversity. If their commitment were so genuine, wouldn’t it go without saying? Especially in 200-friggin-9? It’d be one thing if this were some new sort of commitment (“Dear readers, we’ve been a bunch of self-absorbed white people that forgot there are people of color outside Glamor’s offices, but we’ll stop being so forgetful because that was real dick of us…”). But no, for Glamor, this is a CONTINUED commitment! Is anyone buying that line?

    And what’s with these other loaded/bizarre-o terms like “straight sizes” and “full-bodied women?”

    This is tokenism taken to the max – THE ULTRA MAX! – and I am not impressed.

  55. 55 On October 13th, 2009, Jayson said:

    With a pic like that they can even give PlayBoy a run for their money.

  56. 56 On October 17th, 2009, Miss Mo said:

    I would personally like to applaud the magazine for making the attempt to showcase women who are not the requisite size 6 and below for most high fashion modeling campaigns. While I see the duplicity of the magazine promoting “plus” size women and then having diet articles, it is a step in a good direction for this type of publication to move towards a healthier body. Further I would like to point out that I don’t feel that any magazine should glorify any unhealthy body images, whether it be extreme thinness or obesity. There are many health issues associated with both. With the media having so much influence over how people look, magazines should ideally start showing people only in their healthy weight ranges, and not at either extreme.

  57. 57 On October 19th, 2009, Frankincensy said:

    @Miss Mo – you’re right that there can be health issues associated with being significantly thinner or fatter than a person is meant to be, but this doesn’t mean everyone in a certain weight range is at risk of those issues. Some of the people at either extreme are perfectly healthy, though I agree it’s problematic when the media glorifies a weight that most women cannot safely maintain.

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