Saturday, December 10, 2011

Glamour Magazine Pretends Like it Cares About Women's Self-Esteem

So, Glamour magazine decided to place a photo of a "plus-sized" model, named Lizzie Miller, in their September issue. It has garnered a lot of attention, because women that size (12-14) are almost never seen in the modeling world or featured in a style or fashion magazine. Even the Today show brought the model and the editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine on to their show to gush over how amazing it is that they put this one photo in their issue.

I'm glad that the interviewer pointed out the fact that the magazine didn't put her on their cover and didn't feature her in a photo spread. They just stuck this one photo on page 194.

Earlier today, I saw some comments made about this article from the perspective of a former model. She brought attention to the problematic way that people are talking about how Lizzie Miller is a real sized woman and that she looks like real American women do. Being svelte doesn't mean she isn't a real woman.

I had some of the same feelings about this. I'm a size 4-6. My 16 year-old daughter is a 2. I was around a 2-4 before I became pregnant with her. Neither of us have ever dieted. It's just how we are made. We are real women, too. We have also been short-changed by/in this culture that says that one particular body type should be what we all aspire to.

Lots of people feel like it's perfectly acceptable to make comments about our bodies, as long as they think they are making compliments. I absolutely despise the men who think that, because we're thin, we'll find their comments about "fat" women amusing and feel flattered not to be considered a part of that category. People make all sorts of anorexia nervosa jokes to my daughter, as if that's a subject that people should feel free to joke about. I mean, if she did have anorexia, I think that those comments might even exacerbate the condition.

It's bad enough for my daughter, who then feels like she's under pressure to prove to them that she does eat as much as others and even a bit more, because she's an athlete and she has to replenish her body regularly to stay at peak performance.

The thing she hates the most is when moms will tell their daughters that they should find out my daughter's secret to how she stays so thin. I had a hard time believing that this had actually occurred multiple times, until I heard the other girls in their circle talking about the mother's comment, too. I can't even begin to imagine what it would feel like to know that your own mother thinks your friend is better looking than you. It certainly doesn't help the girl's friendship.

Being multi-ethnic/multi-racial means that in many ways she is positioned on the margins of different communities. This adds an extra layer to the pressure, because in her black circle of friends, she's often told that she needs to "put some more meat on her bones" and she gets teased by guys and girls who tell her she has no butt. The message is that she would be sexier if she gained some weight. In her white circle of friends, she's surrounded by girls who are dieting or simply dissatisfied with how much they weigh. It's absolute madness!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to teach her to love herself just the way she is. Sometimes, it feels like the message that I'm trying to get across to her is completely drowned out by all of the viewpoints coming from society. I don't want to see "plus-sized" models in magazines. I want the entire magazines to go away. Occasionally putting a few average-sized women in their issues doesn't change the fact that they are still contributing to the sexualization of children and the objectification of women and girls.


sanda aronson said...

As someone nearing 72 (or 18 Leap Year Birthdays), I have observed fashion for decades, as well as having evolved views about my own body. I have been thin due to symptoms of illness, rather than by genetic good luck, most of my life. I was chubby when my child was a toddler, long ago.

I have rarely met a woman who liked, was satisfied with how she looks and I include myself until "middle age". Magazines and media are to blame for women's self-criticism. Families can add to the problem if you look like someone your mother doesn't like, for example.

Becoming disabled gave me a new perspective - for example: it was great to have men look at my face when I became a wheelchair user instead of looking at my chest, as had been the case for decades. I got to like my body when I was 35. And I was never fat.

Anonymous said...

So odd that they call 12-14 "plus size" - I thought "plus size" meant the truly large sizes?