There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently about the photo of model Lizzi Miller in September’s Glamour. See, Lizzi has something that rarely appears in fashion glossies: a non-concave stomach. So readers—in the apparent joy of seeing a body that remotely resembles their own in a magazine—have sent letter after letter of praise to Glamour HQ.
In her blog, editor-in-chief Cindi Leive mentions Glamour’s “commitment
to celebrating all kinds of beauty,”
which makes me wonder whether she even reads her own magazine. I’ll give credit where credit is due: this photo and the overwhelming response give me a little hope. But a photo—even this photo—isn’t enough.
1. Lizzi Miller’s photo appears in a story called “What Everyone But You Sees About Your Body,” which is ostensibly promoting body confidence. But why illustrate this piece with a plus-size model? The implication is that larger women are the ones who need this advice, because, you know, skinny females apparently pop out of the womb bursting with self-confidence.
2. Leive describes Miller as a non-supermodel whose body is “wait for it…normal,” as if she (Leive) has nothing to do with the models who populate every other page of the magazine. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it isn’t readers who clamor for a parade of sylphs month after month.
3. The hubbub over Miller doesn’t just mean they’ve done something positive. It means Glamour is failing its readers. If a single photo has generated such a response, then the magazine isn’t regularly depicting the women it purportedly speaks to. A picture of a plus-size model shouldn’t be a favor to readers. It should be a frequent way of representing them—not to the exclusion of slender women, but alongside and equal with them.
4. If I could say one word to Cindi Leive, it would be this: “context.” A plus-size model in Glamour is great. Loving your body is fantastic. But the positive message is diluted by the rest of this issue’s content: a “Health Answers, Please!” column about weight-loss supplements, a feature called “Beware the 1,140-Calorie Breakfast,” the usual spate of super-thin models, and in “Your Instant Whole-Body Makeover,” the warning that poor posture “can even make you look like you’ve gained a few pounds.” The horror! Here’s a thought: Stop fear-mongering about fat and maybe there wouldn’t be a need for articles about self-acceptance. Which brings me to…
5. Leive’s blog post completely fails to acknowledge that Glamour is complicit in this situation. You know why it’s refreshing to see a model who looks like Miller? Because we so rarely see anyone who looks like her in any fashion magazine. Sure, Glamour is leagues beyond Vogue or W in terms of body-type diversity, but that’s damning with faint praise.
What do you think?