Friday, January 13, 2012

My thoughts on this kerfluffle about plus size models

I have now seen this article and photos linked on a weight loss forum and from several people on facebook. Here are my thoughts.

I will go photo by photo or point by point. The first being that most models fit the BMI criteria for anorexia. While I will not deny that many models have anorexia and that eating disorders are rampant. I will also say that BMI is meant as a range for where most people for a given height will fall within and be considered at a good/ideal weight. Like all such ranges, there will be outliers. We tend to think about just the heavier outliers, but there will be lighter outliers too. And in the case of models, I would venture there're are many more finer boned women who are models than in the general public and just because a woman is very thin, and perhaps even lower than the lowest BMI weight listed for a weigh, it does not mean that person is anorexic. I will give an example of my mother in law. She was always considered too thin by her family and peers (but guess what? She modeled swimsuits one summer as having the ideal body for modeling). Her grandma kept trying to put her on a "gain weight" diet. People used to say she didn't look like a woman because she was too thin. Believe me, she ate. And she ate more to try to gain, but she is naturally very thin. That is just the way she was built. She never had any of the health symptoms of anorexia either. And guess what? Here grandson is built just like she was. My older son is a bit over 6'1" tall and he could eat a horse some days, but he's a shade overe 135 pounds. And he's healthy. He is just thin and he's always been that way. So, don't think all models are too thin or anorexic. They aren't.

Photo 2: The average model weighed 8% less 20 years ago than the average woman. Today the average model weighs 23% less. I hope everyone realizes that it means that we as a people have gotten fatter, not that models have gotten thinner. They haven't. And why is that a problem that there is a larger difference between the general public and models? Now... While I would love it if runway shows showed a variety of body shapes, a healthy body is what I want to see. There has to be more than one ideal body shape and size and the fashion industry should do more with that, but honestly.... Even as a heavy woman, I don't want to see overweight models modeling clothes unless they are truly plus sized clothes (like for Lane Bryant, Lauren for women, etc). Nothing is more infuriating to me than thin figures modeling clothes that they can't even wear. If a clothing line goes 14w-24w then, I want a 14w model (or bigger) modeling those clothes. Not a size 6 model wearing a specially made size 6 dress for the 14w and up collection. Catch my drift? Why don't I want to see a chubby woman modeling in a size 10 when I wear a size 10? Because I want the clothes to look the best they can look and not get all stuck in the "oh, look at how her stomach pooches out in that dress." because not rvery woman wearing a size 10 is chubby and not every overweight woman will wear the clothes the same way. Some of us gain in the gut. Others gain in the butt. Others gain all over. Show us it fitting well and then we can figure out if it will fit our particular body or not.

Photo 3: plus sized models 10 years ago used to wear sizes between 12-16. Today they wear between a size 6-14. Ok, this one really irks me. They are really and truly leaving out a lot of information here and being deceitful. Vanity sizing is huge, huge, huge right now. The last time I weighed 178 was when I graduated high school 24 years ago. I wore a loose 16. 14s were too tight. It was the very top size of the regular size clothes and finding 16s in clothes not in the plus size section was difficult. Then a few years later the first wave of vanity sizing happened. So, the next time I lost weight, I got down to 185. I could comfortably wear a size 14. This time at 178 I can wear a mix of 10s and 12s and can even squeeze into a few size 8s depending on the designer. So, now... At 178 I can wear between an 8-12 where I was wearing a size 16 nearly 25 years ago. Ten years ago I could wear a 14. What that means is that plus size models are about the same size now as before, with a slight trend of slightly smaller plus size models. All this vanity sizing is bad in my opinion. Women don't really realize they have a weight problem if they can buy regular size clothes and not need plus size clothes. They don't get that wake up call of "maybe I'm too heavy?". Now, I also want to state, that not all people (back in the day before vanity sizing) who needed to wear plus sized clothing were overweight. I had a friend in college who was 6 foot tall and she wore a 16. She was super thin and fit, but with her height and frame, she needed the plus size. Just for her it meant plus for here height.

Photo 4: let's embrace all body types and love our bodies - thick or thin. Now, I can get on with this one. We don't need to loathe our bodies if we a overweight, underweight, wrinkled, or scarred. Hating yourself can only lead to more harm than good. But I also don't agree with fat acceptance. Just as i dont accept anorexia acceptance, Being fat is not good for anyone nor is being too thin. We just need to realize that if people are thin or heavy, this is who they are and it doesn't make them more than or less than as a person. We don't know their stories or their demons. I don't hold with fat is beautiful or that super thin is beautiful, but i abhor discrimination and hostility toward the overweight and underweight. It just increases health risks if things go too far in either direction.

Now, another thing I want to point out about this photo shoot is back up to photo 1. I saw in many places comments like, "that is disgustingly thin". And "she is not a real woman" and so on in regard to the thinner model on the left. Now hold on a second. This article was not supposed to be about bashing the thinner figure. Look at the photo again. This woman is thin, yes, but she looks to be a pretty darn healthy weight to me. She doesn't have bone jutting out. She doesn't look starved. She's just a thinner woman with a smaller body frame. Why the negative comments then? Can she help that she is finer boned and doesnt carry extra weight? Why is it bad that she is thin? What I see is two women photographed. One is thin. One is as bit heavy, but not anything dangerously heavy. I did a little research of the plus size model and Katya is 5'8" tall and here measurements are 38C-31-43. She wears a size 12. For the record, her measurements aren't too far from mine. I'm just chestier with a 41f chest, and have a midlife waist of 33 and my hips are 42. I wear a US 10/12. Katya is 1.5 inches taller than me too. And I don't consider myself at a good, ideal weight. She looks closer to one.

We could all nitpick these two women shown in photo one. I mean, they are models. Aren't they supposed to be perfect? That only happens in photos and what is perfect anyway? The thinner woman on the left could be seen as having too small boobs and has freckles and lacks muscle definition and some would say she looks too thin. But others could say the freckes are cute and they prefer small boobs and they like a fine boned, thin woman. Now the model on the right can be said to have some fat on her stomach, butt and thighs. She has a very pointed nose and some would say she is too heavy and she doesn't look to be fit. Others would say she has a beautiful nose, a nice round shape and looks like a real woman (like the other woman isn't real?)

Now if we step back and really look. These are two beautiful young women who have very different body shapes. Shouldn't they both be celebrated? We don't have two extremes here. We have two variations of healthy and real young women unblemished by age, childbirth and life.

Stats for 1/13/12:

Highest weight: 275. Now: 178.4
Total hours worked out in 2012: 6.75/250

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