Lately, every fashion magazine on the newsstands has had some variation of a plus size model photo spread. Editors claim to be celebrating the real American woman, but we know it’s just a feeble attempt to boost sales and save their dying businesses.
Being a plus sized girl myself, I’m torn on the whole trend. On the one hand, it’s great to see women with a little meat on their bones (or any meat on their bones, for that matter) displayed so beautifully across the pages of my favorite fashion mags. It’s refreshing to finally be able to look at a fashion spread and see how clothing really looks on real people. People like me.
On the other hand, though, focusing entire spreads and features on plus sized women seems a little exploitative. It’s as if the magazines are saying, “See! We like fat people, too!” And if their goal, as they state, is to change the way we view beauty and really represent the real women living and shopping in this country, they’re going about it all wrong.
In a country where the average woman is a size 14, it should not be a novelty to have plus size women modeling in high fashion magazines. It should not be some special feature added to an issue to prove that women can be sexy and beautiful over a size 4. It should be the norm. Because these women, regardless of their size, are beautiful; their weight should not matter. Pulling those women aside and using them to make some positive statement about body image only does the opposite.
If magazine editors really want to make a change, a necessary change, in the way people view beauty, it’s time to stop treating plus sized models as if they are some sort of rare item and treat them the same as they do every other model. Put them in every fashion story. Shoot them for every fashion spread. Put them in haute couture next to the size zero models and just let them be.
Don’t draw attention to their size. Don’t shoot them naked to show off their beauty. Stop using them to make some grand statement that “they’re beautiful too,” and start treating them with the same respect and awe that you give every other model.
The majority of women reading these magazines are closer to a size 14 than they are to a size zero so stop acting like we are somehow beneath you and the skinny girls and treat us as we deserve to be treated: as normal, beautiful, fabulous women.
[The ladies over at Lemondrop are also seeing a majorly mixed message in this new trend: “Doesn’t it strike you as slightly insulting that the average American woman is being represented by “plus-size models,” while real-life plus-size women aren’t being represented at all?” Check out their take on things.]