When I log on in the morning I generally head to either aol.com or msn.com first (then switch) to see what interesting stories they are running on their scrolling "top stories" bar. It's a quick way to get the news before I go to the traditional cnn and wsj sites.
This morning I came across a link to a guest blog on Lemondrop by Liz Funk regarding Glamour Magazine's use of "plus-size" models. The blog, found here very eloquently discusses the fact that while Glamour is making an effort to show "real" women- their "plus-size" model is a size 12, when- in fact- the average woman in this country is a size 14. Obviously this struck a chord because since it was published on the 15th there are 146 comments (not including the stupid spam comments) from people on this issue. Let me just say that if you walk into most any mainstream store- from WalMart to Sax, from Penny's to Bloomingdales, you will find from 2 to 16 ranged in the "regular sizes" and the plus sized section begins at either 16W or 18. What that means is that while Glamour is *trying* to show more normal women- they fail miserably when catagorizing them as "Plus Size"-especially considering that the difference between Glamour's depicition of Plus and the national market is a matter of about 50lbs depending on body size. While Glamour did a good job with their now famous "woman on page 194" (note the 1100 comments that follow) that showed a real woman who had a bit of a belly but feels comfortable in her skin and is still beautiful, they really stalled their progress with the current campaign.
When I was a teenager, I lived and breathed Glamour, Cosmo and the other fashion-based women's magazines. I can't think of anything I and many girls like me wouldn't have done to look like those girls in the magazines back then. The problem is that the fashion industry, with their size 0 samples and their pencil thin models, skew the perception of what is beautiful and normal. That is why I am thankful for Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign, which began in 2004 and went viral in 2006 spotlights beauty in different ages, shapes and colors. They spotlight real women- not the airbrushed perfection found on billboards and magazines. A terrific example is in this video:
I cannot tell you how I wish this video and this campaign had been launched 25 years prior when I was a young girl. It would have saved me years of anguish over how I looked, it might have saved several of my friends from developing eating disorders or from abusing Dexatrim and other caffeine laced "get thin quick" OTC drugs of the early 80's.
I am a real woman. I am 42 years old. I am 5' tall and a size 14-16 depending on the designer. While I am not model-beautiful (though I am sure that photoshop could fix that-lol) my size and shape are far more common than your typical model. If you don't believe me- go to any clearance rack and look for my size, it's far more rare to find that than a 2-4-6 or even 8. There is a photo out there on the net of me in high school. I look at that picture now and I am so very sad for that little girl. At the time- I was about a 6-8 and I thought I was "so fat" that my history of dieting started during those years. Now I look at it and think "if only you knew". What Dove is doing is showing young girls that beauty is more than what you see in magazines, on TV and in the movies. For this I can support them; I can help spread their message online, I can share their tools with my sisters and friends who have young daughters and I can purchase their products. I only hope that as the message grows the magazines and other media sources follow suit and that the fashion industry finally realizes that what looks good on their size 0 woman- is not the "ideal" or the norm and they come into this century of real beauty.