You’ve no doubt heard of Lizzie Miller, the un-airbrushed size 12-14 model Glamour published a photo of naked save for a thong in its September issue. Unlike SELF magazine, which received a barrage of reader backlash for openly and proudly digitally slimming Kelly Clarkson on its current issue, Glamour has received a large and effusive outpouring of reader support. Glamour editor Cindi Lieve told Matt Lauer on the TODAY show:
You get a reaction like this and you can really see it. It’s also a sign of the times that women are really looking for a little bit more authenticity and a little bit less artifice in every part of their lives. Will it change our approach? I think it will.”
As Mo Pie points out, an unobtrusive photo on page 195 of Miller’s saggy pooch and full thighs among countless other waif-like models is hardly groundbreaking in a story purportedly on body acceptance, but Lieve wasn’t just paying lip service, either. Glamour is now focusing its lens again on plus-size models in its November issue. Photographer Matthias Vriens shot Miller again, along with her curvy colleagues Kate Dillon, Jennie Runk, Amy Lemons, Ashley Graham, Anansa Sims and Crystal Renn.
Reader M Jordan sent me a note this week with a link to a debate currently raging at the site Lemondrop about a few new young adult books that depict fat heroines/heroes. The objection to the plump fiction seems to be that it somehow “encourages” people to follow an “unhealthy lifestyle” rather than hating themselves losing weight. It doesn’t appear as if any of Glamour’s plus-size models wear larger than a U.S. size 16, but I’m sure the mag will also encounter the same vitriol. Since the opposition is focused on health, of course, I think it’s interesting to note how the great majority of the models to be featured in Glamour have struggled with an eating disorder or at the very least, disordered eating and body image insecurities, before becoming healthy and happy plus-size models.
Renn, as you may remember, was once a wraith-thin model who was encouraged to lose more and more weight by her modeling agency despite a very serious eating disorder. She’s now authored a book on her experiences, Hungry, which is set to hit bookstands on Sept. 8. In an interview with The Telegraph, Renn explained how her disorder developed and persisted:
With catwalk stardom at the front of her mind she made friends with iceberg lettuce. Breakfast was some vile-sounding stuff called Fiber One and steamed vegetables. Lunch was lettuce and Diet Coke. Dinner – more lettuce. ‘I knew I had an eating disorder, but I was so focused on the job, I didn’t care’.
With a swimwear shoot looming, she forced herself to work out for nine hours, two days in a row – ‘My body literally felt like it was crumbling’ – before seeing her bookers again. ‘They looked me up and down and said, “Your legs. You need to bring your legs down.”‘
Anansa Sims is the daughter of legendary model Beverly Johnson, the first African-American model to grave the cover of Vogue. When Sims was 18, she left for New York to become a model despite Johnson’s objections. As Johnson explained to People, she herself suffered from anorexia and bulimia throughout her modeling career and didn’t want the same inevitable outcome to befall her daughter. Sims went anyway and quickly discovered the wisdom of her mother’s warnings:
Before I left, I starved myself and worked out four hours a day for three months. Then once I was there, they kept telling me, “Just lose 10 more lbs.!” I made it to a size 4 and I was on my way to a 2. I ate an apple and a bowl of soup a day. Finally I said, “If this is what it takes, I don’t want it.”
Once called “Overweight Kate” as a kid, Kate Dillon developed an eating disorder at age 12 after watching a TV movie with an anorectic character (that the character also died seemed inconsequential to Kate, she says). She also told People:
Five years later, in 1991, a severely underweight Kate was discovered by a photographer in her hometown of San Diego. She came in third in Elite’s Look of the Year contest, winning a $75,000 contract. The 5’11″ Dillon was soon slinking down Paris runways and appearing in Vogue and Glamour. Yet by age 19, her lifestyle, sustained by a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, had taken its toll. “I just couldn’t keep starving myself,” she says. Dillon visited a nutritionist and quickly added 15 lbs. but lost her modeling cachet. “I was only a size 8, yet I was told I was huge and disgusting,” she says.
In an interview last week, Renn told stylelist that she portends a greater degree of body acceptance on the horizon in the fashion world:
“It starts with the sample sizes and I think designers are becoming more aware. I think there have been many positive changes. I’ve done all of the Vogue’s and Dolce & Gabbana ads. It’s just a matter of time before it’s brought back to mainstream. Women want to see themselves in the pictures — they want to see their size, color and height. I think if that happens, it’ll make women feel more empowered and they’ll love themselves more.”
What do you think? Will fat become the new thin any time soon?