Like a lot of people I am happy to see "Sports Illustrated" has decided to include real women in their magazine. You may have heard or read that "plus size" model Ashley Graham will appear in an ad in the popular men's magazine, a first. But taking things one step more, SI has even decided to feature another plus size model, Robyn Lawley, in the immensely popular swimsuit edition coming soon.
Those are bold moves for the magazine and a very positive step forward, not just for the magazine but for all of us. The glamorization of thin women has gone on long enough and is not only unhealthy, it is not what we all know to be reality. As Ashley Graham said in an interview with CNN: "The average sized American woman is like a 12 to 14 and people want to see that. Women want to see themselves in magazines. Men want to see similar type things they have at home. They want to see curves in bikinis."
She is right. While fashion editors and others in charge of the images we see have decided only rail thin is attractive, that is not reflective of every person's desires. There are plenty of men who prefer to see curves and curvy women over ones who look like they have skipped too many meals.
The only problem with this latest development with the magazine is that the discussion still pushes out there the term "plus size." The term alone indicates that these models are larger than the normal model. It keeps and reinforces the standard as thin by adding a precursor to the model title. When we drop the phrase "plus size" we will truly have made progress in this area. Instead of qualifying a person's beauty - labeling them for whether they are bigger or smaller than an arbitrary standard - we should be celebrating each for their individuality. Our terms and language say a lot about what is normal and desirable in our society. Change the label and you change a lot.
Robyn Lawley said a similar thing. On Facebook she wrote, "It's ludicrous to call me plus size... It's about time we forgo labels and embraced size diversity in the fashion world and mainstream media!!! #loveyournaturalsize.”
Right on. So while I am always glad to see progress, as this move by Sports Illustrated is. We can do even better by dropping these labels that indicate these average size women are somehow not normal.
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