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While voluptuous women have always been popular, here we go again! Ashley Graham as a Plus Size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated brings up the same debate as when Italian Vogue did it a few years ago. What exactly IS plus size and why do so many women get angry over this discussion?
I would love to look like any of these women. They are real and they are confident and just beautiful. Where does curvy end and obese begin though? Not sure it matters in everyday life but in marketing but there IS a point where you lose the public and they don’t buy the magazine.
A few years ago, there was a notice on my Facebook wall that Italian Vogue had broken with tradition and their June issue used ‘plus-sized’ models on their cover.
When I am at the hair salon, I love to page through Vogue as it is great entertainment. Vogue is not pertinent to my life, but at the salon, under the lights, its fun to flip through the hundreds of pages of ads featuring bone thin models who appear to be either desert island refugees or heroin addicts.
Hearing news that Italian Vogue had acknowledged that size ten women even existed blew my mind. They created an entire new website – VOGUE CURVY. On the Curvy page was the headline that the NYC flagship Saks Fifth Avenue will carry some high fashion runway looks in sizes all the way up to a (gasp!) SIZE SIXTEEN in their designer boutiques. They interviewed saleswomen who had the nerve to be upset about this. All I could think of was that ‘someone’ would need to give a not too subtle ‘Attitude Check’ while PAYING for a purchase that even though we are bigger than they are, we are SHOPPING while they are WORKING.
Of course plus-size and curvy are terms subject to interpretation. Did I think upon clicking on the Vogue link that I would see my 300 pound, size twenty-eight, pre-op doppelganger on the cover? Nooooo, of course not! I knew the women would be size ten, smooth, very well proportioned, gorgeous and voluptuous and curvy.
Featuring unhealthy 300 to 400-pound lumpy bumpy rolled dimpled women would have been an unkind caricature. As much as we like to repeat the mantra that ‘all women are beautiful no matter what size’ – the reality is that at size twenty-eight, while I had a pretty face, my body was certainly not beautiful.
I think at a large size we can be hot, we can be confident, we can be amazing, we can be sexy, we can look great, we can be beautiful people – but I honestly don’t think that a size 28 body is beautiful. Then again I had weight loss surgery purely to lose weight as I didn’t have anything wrong with me (yet). There is a point however where *big* is really unhealthy which is why it is called morbid obesity, and we are not going to convince the world it’s physically beautiful, nor will it sell mainstream magazines.
Vogue dictates all fashion and for them to put anyone on the magazine cover who is outside the box for their standards is a major move that shows change to a more balanced size reality and opportunity for better sizing. I remember when little girls were subject to the permanent emotional damage of buying school clothes in the Boys Husky department of Sears – and so do my other bariatric girlfriends.
What did surprise me was the number of women who responded to my comments on Facebook who were hurt and angry about the magazine cover. It’s the same anger that explodes when we talk about Oprah, Tess Holiday, and now Ashley Graham. It is their right to be angry and I am happy that they were able to express their feelings but I don’t agree. Women are unhappy that Vogue labeled these beautiful ‘skinny’ women as plus-sized and argued that they were not curvy or large enough. I don’t believe that women need to be a particular BMI, obese, flabby, or even visibly *gasp* fat in order to be plus-sized or curvy – we are in as many different sizes and shapes as are our slimmer counterparts.
At what size does plus-sized begin?
What connotes curvy? Should we be angered by this Vogue cover because the women are not big enough? That’s sick. Last month’s cover featured women wearing size zero with clips taking up the slack in the back – this month they have women who look as if they could wear an eight or ten and people want size twenty-eights! I am not a fan of the twenty-eights; it was not a good thing and I do not highly recommend it! I think that these photos are stunning and I would imagine most men dream about women like these.
Some commented that these covers made them feel worse about themselves as if ‘those’ women were plus-sized, how could they ever be considered thin. Where exactly does thin begin and what is normal? Wait, what is perfect and what committee made those choices? If a pair of size twelve jeans do not fit, is it me or is it simply that the jeans do not fit my body? What about a size eight – is that where thin begins? Does the number on our jeans matter at all or is it better to like the way we look and the way the jeans make us feel? Where do we finally get small enough where our life becomes happy? Will being slim transform our lives? What happens when we are suddenly slim and our life hasn’t changed a bit?
There is a lot of anger out there. Women do feel terrible about themselves and their bodies – its not really about size. It is psychological and emotional – it’s coming from the inside. Unfortunately losing weight does not magically fix those feelings. Lack of self image and not truly loving yourself is due to deeper issues that often remain after weight loss unless they are aired out and addressed. I encourage my weight loss surgery sisters to find a kind and caring therapist to work though feelings that may be preventing them from loving themselves right now at this exact wonderful moment in time.
Let’s find the love to embrace Vogue and Sports Illustrated for featuring those magnificent ‘plus size’ women on their cover and inside feature no matter what NUMBER is attached to their size. What could possibly be bad about it?