When I first heard that a plus-sized model would be gracing the pages of the 2015 Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated, I was nothing less than thrilled. That is, until I heard that she wore a size 12– one size smaller than what the average American woman wears today. Oh, and did I mention she stands at a stunning 6’2″ tall? THEN I saw a picture of the Australian “plus-size” model, Robin Lawley. There’s nothing “plus” about this beautiful beast. Granted, the woman doesn’t look like a 10 year old boy from the neck down, but does having curves qualify you as plus-size? Even women’s plus-size clothing stores don’t consider a size 12 plus-size! Lane Bryant and Dress Barn’s sizing both start at a size 14 and Catherine’s at a size 16!
So why are models so thin?
It’s no secret that models are super thin, sometimes dangerously skinny, to the point that their ribs clearly protrude from their back. But why is that the case? How did we end up associating beauty with being so frickin’ thin? Well, have you ever heard of the model Twiggy from back in the 1960’s? She was famous for her thin, waif-like figure.
Her tiny frame is blamed to have changed American’s culture toward the ideal body. From then on, modeling agencies were looking for models that resembled Twiggy’s body type, being at least 5’7” tall and weighing no more than 115 pounds. (It is also believed that once Twiggy came onto the scene, eating disorders started to become much more prevalent in America…but I digress.)
Twiggy’s boyish figure set her apart from the normal sized woman, and this could be one of the reasons why designers want their clothes on rails–they feel their designs will stand out more.
But is it out of the question to think the designers would want to appeal to the average sized woman by using models that look, well…more human?
Am I wrong to say that we’d identify with the models to a certain extent and pay more attention to the clothes, as opposed to how badly you want to tie the poor girl down and force feed her a pork chop? Quite possibly, even envisioning our bodies in the ensemble they are donning.
Isn’t that the whole point?
Instead, we see the gangly alien, er, I mean model, with the designer dress hanging, or what the designers call “draping” off them, and we feel like stuffed pigs, totally ashamed of our bodies.
There’s a couple other theories out there on why the bony look is so sought after, one of which being health. We know that obesity is a big concern in America, “so some people support thinner models as a means of rejecting weight-related health and social issues,” a WiseGEEK article states. They feel that if they encouraged overweight people, they’d be displaying that being overweight is “acceptable.” What a load of crap.
Another concept of thinness relates to success. Unfortunately, discrimination occurs more often than we know when it comes to people who are overweight in the workplace. The Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity reported that “weight discrimination increased 66 percent from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.” They also say that “obesity discrimination is now more prevalent than bias based on ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical disability.” Overweight workers are less likely to get promoted or even get the job to begin with. On top of that, they make 3-6% less than their thinner coworkers. Research shows that thinner people also hold higher level positions therefore having more money, which takes me to my next point.
Being skinny is supposed to represent wealth or being among the “elite.” Of course a super thin physique can be acquired when you have big bucks to spend on trainers, chefs and doctors to suck the fat from their butt. Apparently, disappearing when standing behind a light pole makes them feel important. And these “important” people are the ones designers tend to cater to.
Seeing models that look practically emaciated walk the runway, and “plus-size” models that look tiny, it takes a big toll on how us regular folk view our bodies. So what being done about it?
There are many organizations out there speaking against what society has drilled into our heads as the ideal body type. The organization SPARK! petitioned for Seventeen magazine to stop photoshopping their models. SPARK! is a women-led group out to end the negative portrayal of women and girls in the media. Seventeen magazine positively responded that they will “never change girls’ body or face shapes and will publish only images of “real girls and models who are healthy.”
At DoSomething.org (where young people create a campaign for a cause they are passionate about and post it on the site), there are a few campaigns promoting healthy body image, including an anti-shaming shutdown, which “defaces or removes fat-shaming headlines on magazine covers” and a campaign where you “make mock magazine covers to promote positive body image.” You can sign up for a cause too! All you have to do is create an account and you’re good to go.
If you are interested in contributing your time or energy, there are several ways in which to go about it. One website called About-Face.org gives you a list of ways you can make a difference. They say you can take action by writing a complaint letter, sending an e-mail or signing a petition to any company you feel is not representing a woman’s body in a positive light. Let them know you will not be buying their product until they change their advertising. You can also educate yourself on why body image in the media is an issue. In addition, they have a link to their petitions you can sign and a guide for writing a terrific complaint letter.
Even though nothing is changing over night, I’d like to feel we are moving in the right direction. I mean, after all, Sports Illustrated featured their first “plus-size” swim suit model, however non-plus size she may be.
Who knows, maybe this is the start of something good.
30 Day Fitness Challenge- COMPLETE
Wow! We did it. Looking back, the last month really did go by fast. I had my blips and felt I could have done better, but I made a conscious effort not to beat myself up. I tried to focus on what I did do. I set a goal, went out of my comfort zone and put time and energy into changing my normal routine, despite life getting in the way. Some days I was all gung ho on doing the exercises, other days I had no desire to do them.
Even though it’s the end of the 30 days, I am not stopping here. This is merely a jumping off point. This challenge pushed me to start something, and now that the 30 days are up, I don’t think I should stop when I’m just now getting into the swing of things. I think back at all the work I put in to the last few weeks and I am not letting that go to waste.
So for all of you that finished the 30 Day Fitness Challenge, I salute you. You are truly an inspiration and you should be incredibly proud of yourselves. You have no idea how proud I am of you!
Those of you who started, but life took over somewhere along the way, the fact that you even began says a lot. If you think about it, the timing was just off. Please don’t let this experience hinder you from trying something similar to this in the future.
Thank you to everybody who participated in the 30 Day Fitness Challenge. It wasn’t always easy, but I hope the end result was well worth it. You guys ROCK!
Emme, (2015). Body Beautiful: How Media Influences Your Body Image Perception. [Blog]Emme Nation. Available at: http://www.emmenation.com/body-beautiful-how-media-influences-your-body-image-perception/ [Accessed 10 Feb. 2015].
Kaufman, D. (n.d.). Battle Workplace Descrimination. [online] Monster. Available at: http://career-advice.monster.com/in-the-office/workplace-issues/weight-discrimination/article.aspx [Accessed 9 Feb. 2015].
wiseGEEK, (2015). Why are Fashion Models So Thin? (with pictures). [online] Available at: http://www.wisegeek.org/why-are-fashion-models-so-thin.htm [Accessed 9 Feb. 2015].