Now, I’m not going to congratulate Glamour for being fat-accepting. I don’t think they are, at this point. They are probably the most progressive of the current crop of mainstream ladymags, by which I mean they occasionally dedicate a few pages to fierce female political leaders or the epidemic of rape as a tool of war. They’ve got a long way to go in the body diversity and body acceptance department. I’d like to see fat women and women whose bodies are not perfectly proportioned featured without comment in ladymags. Lizzi Miller is “fat” by fashion industry standards. But she’s slimmer and more beautiful than the majority of American women. If you want to be a “plus size” model you better have a knock-out face. Only the rail thin standard models can get away with “ugly pretty.” Miller also has a proportional body, white skin, no visible disabilities… I guess the fashion industry has to take it one extremely slow step at a time.
Even so, the ecstatic responses to Miller’s photo prove that women are starving for pictures of women with “flaws.” And I don’t mean freckles. We are not accustomed to seeing naked female bodies that are not staring back at us from billboards, movie screens, porn or magazines. We see our own bodies in the mirror, and we see the thin, toned, surgically enhanced and meticulously airbrushed bodies in the media. And those bodies are presented as the standard. Is it any wonder women do back-flips when they see something, anything, familiar – like belly fat – portrayed as acceptable and even attractive?
I think the positive reaction to the original Glamour photo just goes to show that ladymags have contributed to women’s self-hatred. Miller has appeared in Glamour before – in a piece reporting the results of their “Exclusive Body Image Survey.”
We at Glamour think your body is fantastic. Tall and gangly, small and busty, muscular, curvy, soft or sinewy—we celebrate it all (lie. – Ed). Men, we discovered, feel pretty much the same way. Trouble is, too many of you don’t.
Well gee, Glamour, we tried, but self-loathing is so fun. Thanks for the “help,” though!
Incorporating a wider range of bodies would certainly be a step in the right direction for the ladymags, and not only because the validation is nice. Tall, slim women aren’t the only women who buy clothes! I would like to see short women with round bellies and small breasts modeling fall trends that will flatter that body type. Fashion magazines are useless to me because no matter how appealing the clothes are, what looks good on the models will not look good on my body. So I just pay close attention when What Not To Wear features a woman who looks like me.
A fat girl extravaganza could be good for the magazine industry and retail clothing sales, but it might also be too little, too late. This could just be a publicity stunt on the part of a media segment desperate to retain relevance. Print media is on the decline. And if women start feeling okay about their bodies, demand for a lot the products advertised in ladymags will fall. Ladymags have a vested interest in keeping women anxious about their looks; it’s how they, and too many other industries, make their money. I guess we will have to wait and see.