Another PS model beauty, Lizzi Miller
Plus-size model Lizzi Miller in Glamour begs question: Is it time for magazines to show real women?
Is size 12 the new size 0?
The hollow-cheeked waifs sashaying through the latest fashion magazines may sport head-turning outfits, but they haven’t drawn nearly as much buzz as the 180-pound blonde beauty beaming out of the September issue of Glamour.
That’s because model Lizzi Miller wears - dare we say it? - size 12 or even 14. The 20-year-old, who plays softball and enjoys belly dancing, told Matt Lauer on the Today Show, “I’m not saying that a size 2 isn’t normal, but my normal size is this.”
As it is for millions of other women who peruse the magazines featuring spreads of barely-there models in size zero and below. So it was hardly suprising that Glamour got plenty of positive mail about the picture of a model with a hint of belly fat.
Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive blogged on Glamour's Web site that readers were filled with “joy at seeing a woman’s body with all the curves and quirks and rolls found in nature,” and asked readers to send more feedback on what kinds of images they'd like to see in the magazine.
But don’t look for double-digit-size models to start dominating the fashion mags anytime soon.
“I don’t believe that real women are going to sell magazines, and the bottom line is that it’s all about selling,” says Maureen Lippe, founder of PR firm Lippe Taylor and a former fashion and beauty editor at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. “Especially in a down economy, women want to see perfection. We don’t really want to see pictures of imperfect women.”
Still, Self magazine’s recent decision to photoshop the cover pic of Kelly Clarkson to make her appear thinner elicited criticism and prompted Self editor Lucy Danziger to go on the defensive on the Today Show. “We love Kelly for the confidence that she exudes from within," Danziger told viewers, and elaborated that, on a magazine cover, "you want to capture the essence of you at your best."
Regardless of what the editors think, readers may be getting disenchanted with the unrealistic images of women that magazines feature.
“Eating disorders are everywhere, and people are saying, I don’t think this works and I don’t think it’s healthy for young people,” says Donna Reamy, Virginia Commonwealth University associate chair of fashion and co-author of “The Global Impact of the Fashion Industry and Media on Body Image.”
“Young women read these magazines and aspire to be really thin. When they can’t achieve that, it can lead to an eating disorder.”
In a recession, Reamy says, people go into survival mode and focus more on their health than they do in good times. “We are less and less about fashion and the idealized figure,” she says. “It’s more about just getting from one day to the next.”
The bad economy has caused many women to care less than they once did about looking perfect, says Lisa Silvera, who has edited three magazines and now owns two marketing agencies.
“Women are beginning to work with what they’ve got,” she says. “They are looking in the mirror and saying, 'I’m okay.' Life has gotten more serious and there is a lot more to think about than there used to be.”
Liz Canner, a filmmaker about to launch a documentary on body image, says magazines profit when women see images of skinny models and aspire to be like them.
“When women feel insecure after looking at these pictures, they are more likely to buy the products advertised in the magazine,” Canner says. “We’ve created a culture that is obsessed with perfection. If given the option, who isn’t going to try to become more beautiful?”