A fashion magazine being judgmental about size is no surprise; in this case, though, it’s a case of denigrating people of thinner build.
On page 40, there is a picture of five women (all save one, the smallest, white) in white bras and panties. They each represent a different size – from 6 to 14.
Under each woman, there are a couple of comments, and a percentage indicating which of the women appealed (the most, one assumes) to a hundred men sampled for this poll. The pull quotes are all positive except for the size 6 and 8 women.
The size 6 woman (and I hate having to refer to her this way instead of being able to say ‘Charlene’ or ‘Mary or something) has four comments, two of which are negative – one implying that she is somehow unwomanly, and the other presuming that she must spend her life obsessing about exercise and low-calorie foodstuffs. The size 8 gets two positive comments, and one suggesting that she seems uncomfortable and unhealthy.
This is disingenuous at best, as all of the women have between 10-30% of the vote, leaving no particular size the runaway favourite, and one could therefore assume each woman would have at least three positive ‘quotes’ (assuming they are not all made up by an editorial assistant).
I leave aside the very pertinent questions of how four white, blond women with shoulder length hair and one black woman with short hair, can be considered sufficiently representative of all women of a particular size, and whether ‘appeal’ has anything to do with dress size, especially since most women are size 14 and higher anyway, and therefore only marginally represented in any case.
Obviously, it would have been easy for the editors to decide to print only positive comments about each size – which would of course be the most body-positive option. In choosing to berate the smaller sizes by proxy, and omit larger sizes all together, what is surely (hopefully) intended as a positive ‘let’s all be healthy but not obsessively so’ message becomes rather more complicated and frankly judgmental.
It is not necessary to insult skinny women to make larger women feel better about themselves. To do so is to create a false competitiveness and encourage the act of judging people of size.
Naturally, there are plenty of skinny women in the later fashion segments and in all the advertising.
There is also an article (to become a regular segment) about how the yo-yo dieting, size 18 beauty director is determined, once and for all, to ‘get healthy’. Her inspiration, incidentally, was a segment last month that revealed the eating habits of Glamour staffers.
It is possible that this segment may, probably unintentionally, reveal how all dieting is yo-yo dieting. While the beauty director may indeed lose some weight, and perhaps develop a different relationship with food and a healthy exercise regimen, it is unlikely that she will find the magic bullet that eludes so many other people.
People are the size they are for all sorts of reasons, and while it is healthy to exercise and eat wholesome food, to suggest that body size is a simple indicator of health (not to mention femininity or eating habits) is scientifically fallacious and perpetuates a misogynistic, critical view of the human body that should really have had it’s day.
Let’s look at these pictures instead.
image from magxone.com