I’ve blogged before on the insulpliment – a compliment that’s actually an insult – but it always surprises me how subtle it is.
Ignoring the fact that this story was around last week but only just picked up by News Ltd today, we have Glamour magazine in the US (strangely with the English spelling) with a photo of plus-sized model Lizzie Miller without her “wobbly bits” airbrushed out:
They’ve been dubbed the “wobbly bits that shook the world”, inspiring women to learn to love their “love handles”.
Shook the fashion world my jiggly arse. This image won’t change anything. Magazines have been getting positive feedback on normal-sized models for years. And now the magazine is “planning an entire edition dedicated to the improved body image issue” – body image issues they have been complicit in creating. (And how is improved body image an “issue”? Maybe it’s an issue for people whose careers are based on making women feel bad about themselves so they’ll go spend money.)
Predictably, the photo was in an article about what men really think is sexy. That’s right girls, we’ve been telling you for years that if you starve yourself men will find you sexy, but now we’re telling you that if you put on weight, then men will find you sexy. It’s never about being sexy for yourself.
When a designer/magazine wants mainstream media coverage, the easiest way is to use a “fat” model, because the media always reacts the same way: “Wow, this model is fat! How shocking! How subversive! How fashionable!” And, again predictably, the model used is never just a little overweight (in model terms). The editor apparently chose this particular photo because Miller looked happy and relaxed. Bullshit. The Daily Mail has a much better photo of her, looking far happier, but without the belly roll. A unflattering photo was deliberately used, taking us into insulpliment territory. Since when is “Wow, look at her fat bits, she’s a model, in a magazine, and she’s fat!”* a compliment?
You don’t solve body image issues by making a huge song and dance about using one “plus-sized” model, calling her fat but sexy and expecting to be applauded for it. Or by banning skinny models. How offensive to say one body type is unacceptable. A good start would be to stop calling normal-sized models “fat”.
* She’s not fat.