“Plus-Size” Models Get Naked

1 11 2009

Mothers, shield your impressionable daughters–  Glamour magazine’s new “plus-size” issue has rocked the very moral foundation of our country with this photo of naked fat women:   

glamour-plus-size-nudes-425sc1002091

The ginormous fatties include plus-size models Crystal Renn, Amy Lemons, Ashley Graham, Kate Dillon, Anansa Sims, and Jennie Runk and Lizzie Miller, who will surely be outcast from society after poisoning our beloved fashion magazines with their obesity.

Glamour editor Cindi Leive said this plus-size issue was inspired by the huge amount of buzz the September issue received from this one un-airbrushed photo of Lizzie Miller, a plus-size model with a (gasp!) real belly:

lizzie-miller - 1

I salute Glamour for the effort; really, I do.  The models in every other fashion mag look more like coat-hangers than people.  But these two isolated pictures and the massive amounts of publicity they’ve received only serve as a glaring reminder of the fact that we live in a country where stunning, size 8 women with long, slender necks, perfect teeth and wind-blown hair are considered plus-size.  We seem to have forgotten the days of Marilyn Monroe and the voluptuous pinup, when curvy, size-12 women represented the American feminine ideal.

marilyn-monroe-swimsuit-236x300

What I find really fascinating is the way American standards for female beauty seem to have fluctuated with its political and economic climate.  This illustrated timeline by Maddie Raud traces the changes in the ideal feminine body throughout the decades, showing how various cultural movements and economic booms have influenced our ideas of how women should look.

According to Raud, the super-skinny, boyish figures of models like Twiggy in the 60s replaced the buxom pinups of the 40’s and 50’s when a new wave of feminist women sought to distance  themselves from the ultra-feminine, post-WWII pinup image by peeling off their curves.  

twiggy02

After the sexual revolution in the 70s, economic prosperity in the 80’s ushered in the fitness trend, where women sought 6-packs and “buns of steel” to match their strong, working-women personas.  Kate Moss and the new “heroin-chic” then took over in the 90s, when skinniness became a symbol of the ultimate self-discipline.  

Somehow, the super-skinny beauty ideal has persisted into new millennium, and no one seems to be challenging this arbitrary value system.  In many other cultures, specifically some African and Central American cultures, women aspire to be plump because fat is interpreted as a symbol of fertility, health and prosperity.  My roommate lived in a small village in the Dominican Republic for two years where the locals would encourage her weight gain, explaining that thinness signaled poverty and parasites.  “No, you’re definitely getting fatter!” the men would say, looking her up and down and smiling from ear to ear, clueless as to the fact that in America, that kind of comment would get you slapped.  

It is a luxury and a privilege to have so much nourishment at our fingertips that we actually have to exert an effort to deprive ourselves of it.  Nothing is inherently beautiful about a women who is stick thin because she starved herself or stuck a needle in her arm.  I would love for American culture to reach that point at which the “plus-size” women in the above photos will no longer generate buzz  in the magazine world with their healthy, proportionate bodies. 

In the meantime, I’m going to make myself a PB&J.

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6 responses

2 11 2009
Jayne Yomamasfreind

yeah, yeah, but I still wanna be skinny

2 11 2009
Steph Granger

bonus fact! the waist to hip ratio of playboy centerfolds over the decades has consistently been 0.7. so the “ideal” curve has stayed the same, it’s just the lbs. behind the curve that have fluctuated, as you said, with the economic times. with that, where is my corset…

2 11 2009
गेब्रियल

umm…those women are NOT fat (or even plus-sized…really.) Oprah, before her surgery and power walking was plus-sized; Rossanne Barr was Fat; that fat lady, you know–who sings at the end of stuff, SHE is fat. It’s really only in a few isolated places that people actually believe that shit, and America (at it’s worst; at its best I refer to it as the USofA, but this is not its best…) is the capital for this kind of bullshit.
Say no to skinny jeans being hot! Say NO to feeling bad about not working out when you’re tired! SAY NO TO THE BULLSHIT THAT THE CULTURE INDUSTRY PUMPS OUT…IT’S ONLY TRUE IF YOU ACCEPT IT AS TRUTH; IT’S ONLY LIFE IF YOU MAKE IT YOUR OWN.
“What other people think about you is none of your business.”

2 11 2009
Edward Dandyhands

MMMmmm mmm! That first photo makes me want to use the following words in some sort of sentence that I’ll let YOU form:
– sop
– gravy
– tickle monster
– ladle

2 11 2009
graber

i only read this because i was promised some nuddie photos. way to false advertise. i’m writing an angry letter.

2 11 2009
BS

i love lindsay lohan circa “Mean Girls” 10X more than her current cocaine addled manifestation.

that’s all i really feel comfortable saying about this.

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