Plus-sized my ass.

Glamour has a spread out this month that’s grabbing headlines right and left.  Well, that and eyeballs.  I mean just take a look:


Isn’t that an amazingly beautiful picture?

But apparently Glamour thinks that all of the women in that photograph are “plus-sized” rather than “normal-sized.”  (There are more pictures, along with short introductions to the women here.)  I’m tired of the bullshit, dear readers.  While Glamour magazine may live in a bizarre, alternate reality where women’s sizes 12 and 14 should be considered large rather than average, the rest of us live here in America on planet earth where, in fact, women’s sizes 12 and 14 are the average.  To their credit, Glamour talks about this very thing in the article associated with the pictures.  But the language they use continues to be disrespectful and missing the point.

So don’t get all high-and-mighty on me Glamour, for suddenly portraying your magazine as breaking the societal standards of beauty that have gripped American women for decades.  This is a stunningly beautiful picture, and I love just looking at these amazing bodies.  But when they amazing-ness of them is qualified – repeatedly – by the words plus, larger, and big, and when the women are described as having confidence “despite” their bodies, I throw-up a little bit in my mouth.

If this is really a conversation that Glamour wants to have, as it claims, here is my opening statement: This is not progress, this is continuing the bullshit while attempting to gain eyeballs and advertisers by claiming progress.  Show me some real progress, and I’ll subscribe to your magazine.  I’ll be your biggest fan and call your name from the rooftops.  But first you have to get real, down here in the trenches, with all the normal people.


Filed under From Karen

22 responses to “Plus-sized my ass.

  1. Meems

    I think what bothered me most was that, in an article about redefining “normal,” the author felt it necessary to include this: Obesity is a significant health problem. What does that have to do with women trying to feel confident when we’re constantly told that we’re too fat, proportioned wrong, too short, etc.?

  2. SparklyShiny

    This article leaves me torn between jumping for joy and screaming from frustration. I like the fact that there are occasional efforts to show that real women are beautiful as they are — Jamie Lee Curtis in MORE (wearing underwear and no makeup), Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, this gorgeous photo in Glamour. But I’m also frustrated that any tall, non-emaciated woman will always be considered “plus-size” simply because her bone structure won’t fit into a high-fashion dress.

    It’s hard to break free of body image issues when the language we use has such powerful connotations. While I’d consider terms like “skeletal,” “puny,” “scary-thin,” “sickly” and “hungry” to be negative terms when describing a woman, those in the fashion industry seem to think of them as compliments. On the other hand, relatively neutral terms such as “healthy,” “strong,” “normal” and “curvy” all seem to mean “fat.”

    Keep in mind that, while we may be genuinely frustrated by the way this article describes women being self-confident “despite” their bodies, those of us who grew up in normal-sized bodies have most likely endured years of negative reinforcement. No matter how strong our self-esteem or how comfortable we are in our own skin, we fully understand we will not receive acceptance from (most) others so we stop looking for it . . . and we simply get on with living our lives in our own beautiful bodies – no matter what size, shape, or weight we may be.

  3. I think it’s also interesting that the women are arranged in provocative poses with each other. I don’t follow anything having to do with Glamour, but I’m wondering if this photo was on their cover. If so, I would imagine they sold a great many magazines to men who are turned on by the idea of, and presumably images related to, lesbian sex.

  4. i’m standing up and clapping . . . right now! well said. preach sister, preach!

  5. Ditto Suzanah’s comment!

  6. Jennifer

    Right on!

  7. Angela

    My husband walked by as I was looking at the picture and asked what I was doing. I said, “what do you think of this picture?” and he said, “well, those are beautiful, normal-looking women.” I then explained the controversy. He said, “well, they are normal looking women . . . but they ARE plus-sized models. But that’s because supermodels are usually scrawny-assed women. I bet most men would find these women more attractive.”

    He’s great.

    What concerns me is not my reaction to this image or article (or his reaction). We old! I always worry about 15-year-old girls and the impressions left on them.

  8. Sabrina

    Dear Angela,

    Pls to be lending me your husband if you ever get sick of him. Does he have a brother?

    Also — I miss this website’s updates! What happened?

    Much love,
    A fan

  9. Pingback: VanderMeander » Blog Archive » Scars and Smooshiness and Contentment

  10. AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Shows how out of touch, Glamour is! None of those women look remotely “plus-sized”

  12. Interesting article today in the NY Times on this subject.

  13. Thanks for the link, Shannon! It’s a great article – well worth the read. Very interesting comments and thoughts from some so-called plus-sized models.

  14. ashley

    I think if they want real women for a photo shoot they should take the pics here and make one big-ass collage and say THIS is what a real woman loos like!

  15. I’m torn on this. Yes, these women are beautiful, and its great to see that women of an average, realistic size are being portrayed as beautiful. But its sad too that our average “normal’ size is getting bigger and bigger as time goes on.

    I am currently a size 14 after losing 60 pounds and coming down from a size 22. I think my body is beautiful the way it is, but I know it is not as healthy as it could be. Bigger is not always better. It might be more common, but its not always an improvement.

  16. Danielle

    I like that your husband is realistic in that yes these women are most likely more beautiful than skeletons. However, they are not plus sized…he needs to get that thru his skull. Unless plus-sized means thin and normal…which would make no sense. Please tell him to get a clue.

  17. 17girl

    Dear Debra:
    While I agree with you on the point that it is not healthy for women to be overweight, I would like to point out that it is also as equally unhealthy to be supermodel (or as glamour states it: “beautiful”) sized. For a couples years now I’ve been struggling with eating disorders and know first hand it is not healthy to be underweight as well as overweight. If you are unable to walk up two flights of stairs without gasping for air or feeling light headed you are not as healthy as you could be. I strongly preach being in shape over losing weight any day because you will regret not being able to do everything you want in life whether you are a size 2 or a size 22.

  18. kim

    The average or normal size for American women has been climbing throughout the years such that, as much as we may not want to admit it, these women are indeed plus-size. I’m not saying that a size 0 should be the ideal but you can’t pretend that we’re not getting bigger by just saying bigger is the new norm.

  19. Allison

    Totally agree with Kim. Size 0 should not be the ideal. However, designers like the way their clothes look on very thin models (think of them as clothes hangers) and this is the industry standard. Being painfully this is considered their job, and they are extremely well compensated for it.

    As a nurse of 17 yrs, I have seen the rise in obesity climb to near pandemic proportions. Juvenile diabetes is at an all-time high. Hospitals are filled with patients whose weight has either caused or exacerbated serious and chronic conditions. We actually needs special beds and transportation services to accommodate the heaviest people. These findings are alarming, and I’m concerned that the focus here seems to be that the women in the photo aren’t fat *enough* to be considered plus-sized.

    Slippery slope, folks. As little as 10% extra weight predisposes you to health risks. The same article that is linked here referencing size 12 and 14 as average goes on to state that clothing sizes have consistently gotten larger as a result of upsizing, or “vanity sizing.” Hence, a size 12 is at least two sizes larger than it was 30 yrs ago. Just because size 14 is the national average, that doesn’t make it desirable OR healthy. When size 20 is the national average (and it will be unless this trend is reversed), will there be a push to accept morbid obesity as the new beautiful?

  20. Danielle

    To Kim: While it’s true that true obesity is an issue for many, I would challenge the assertion that sizes are climbing simply because we’re all becoming “plus size”. People are, in general, increasing in height over time. Go into a vintage store to shop for clothes, and if you’re taller than 5’3″ you’ll have one hell of a time finding ANYTHING that fits you regardless of your dress size. Back when I was a size 4 I couldn’t find vintage clothes to fit me, because I am also 5’8″. As average height increases, body weight will of course increase accordingly.

    Another issue is the GARBAGE that is added into all the processed foods we eat nowadays. There simply weren’t the kinds of toxins and preservatives and lack of basic nutrition in foods 50 years ago that we face today. Even good foods like fruits and veggies are less nutrient dense today than in years past due to over-farming and the soil becoming depleted. So even people making the effort to eat as healthy as possible yield less rewards today than in yesteryear…and to do so is ridiculously expensive to boot, making it even more challenging for those who are in lower income brackets to eat well.

    This isn’t just an issue of “people are just getting too fat”. Curvier figures were normal and admired. Marilyn Monroe was a size 8 at her smallest, and a size 16 at her largest – and no one ever thought she was overweight. Think of Mae West, Betty Page, Jayne Mansfield…the list goes on with women who were sex symbols that were never a size 2. Audrey Hepburn was considered an anomaly with her waif-y figure in an industry which at the time coveted a more voluptuous frame.

    The very fact that today’s models are coming out in droves with having to support eating disorders in order to keep their jobs is demonstrative of the fact that those figures are unrealistic. I seriously doubt those girls are just lazy over-eaters who needed a diet in the first place – they have natural beauty, but are then forced to abuse their bodies through starvation in order to maintain a marketable figure. It’s not like there are simply hoards of women naturally walking around as adults sporting a size 0 because they naturally have that figure – this is a fabricated ideal. Half the time even the slightest of models are photoshopped to be ever skinnier in the adverts! What does THAT tell you?

  21. According to the BMI a size 12 or 14 woman who is tall is actually within a healthy weight range depending on height. I know this, because at 5’9 when I was a size 12 I was in the mid-range of the BMI. When I was a 14 I was at the higher end of the BMI. I realize I need to lose weight at size 16 now but I do hate how ads call women who are a size 12 “plus size” when actually a 12 is generally a women’s size large and a 14 is an XL at many clothing stores and not actually in the plus size section. 14 seems to be somewhat on the borderline of plus size depending on what store.

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