Annoying feminist magazines whine about positive body images and mainstream media’s obsession with thinness. Glossy fashion magazines like their ladies rail-thin with a side of anorexia. That’s because feminists are a tiny minority of butch, fat, hairy chicks who don’t shower and stick pins into the crotch area of little male dolls, while the majority of women are obsessed with lip gloss and are stupid enough to believe that a size zero is attainable with exercise and a healthy diet.
Maybe not. In the September 2009 issue, Glamour ran an almost-nude photo of plus-sized model Lizzie Miller. The most startling feature of the photo was a little flap of belly flab, sitting right out there for all the world to Twitter about. The magazine got a mailbag full of rave reviews and decided to follow through on reader enthusiasm. In the November issue, Glamour declared a “body image revolution.”
“These bodies are beautiful” declares the headline. The accompanying photo of nude models reveals curves, bellies, hips, creases, and all that good stuff.
To which we all reply, “yeah, whatever.” We have seen it before. The same industry that gave us Kate Moss is suddenly declaring Emme the model of “real” beauty. Readers get that glow of self-righteousness and the fashion magazines sell a few more copies. Everyone wins, and then we all go back to business as usual.
This time, however, Glamour came through with a couple of concrete commitments, in addition to the usual declaration of intent to show “a wide range of body types.” The magazine also pledged to start showing more “so-called imperfections” on its pages, perhaps signaling a decline in the fetish for blemish-free models.
Glamour also committed to giving “the best plus models not just work, but the same great work straight-size models get, partnering with top photographers, stylists and makeup artists. Because a generous helping of fantasy, in our view, is fabulous—as long as it’s extended to women of all sizes.” And this is where things start to get interesting. The magazine is not saying thin women are less real or heavy women are more real or women should have pasty skin and be thrilled as all hell with their limp hair and the huge dark circles under their eyes. It is saying, “yep, we are all about the fantasy, and that’s OK. But let’s start rewriting the fantasy.”
So, the final commitment – a call to designers to please, for the love of all that is decent and holy, send them some samples for photo shoots in, say, a size eight – rings true. Glamour is not redesigning itself as a magazine dedicated to deconstructing the complete works of Djuna Barnes. It is a fashion magazine and will remain one, with all the makeup tips and designer handbags that can fit into three-hundred pages. But, just maybe, it can use its market share to let the rest of us in on the fashion.
Ultimately, it is a smart business move, because I’m betting there are a whole lot more women size-eight to -eighteen looking to buy magazines than there are size-two models who feel they need the kind of advice that Glamour dishes out. I know I am subscribing, because I want to see how this one shakes out.