The size debate: standards of beauty

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Someone I know posted this to their Facebook page earlier this morning and I'm not sure how I feel about it. In any event, I thought it was worth a discussion if we could find a way to be civil about it.

link warning not entirely safe for work pictures that would probably be safe for supermarket magazine covers

A magazine dedicated to plus-size fashion and models has sparked controversy with a feature claiming that most runway models meet the Body Mass Index criteria for anorexia.

Accompanied by a bold shoot that sees a nude plus-size model posing alongside a skinny 'straight-size' model, PLUS Model Magazine says it aims to encourage plus-size consumers to pressure retailers to better cater to them, and stop promoting a skinny ideal.

Doesn't matter if they put the word "PLUS" on the cover, in caps, bold or italics. That lady is skinny.

I guess "don't be a skeleton" is a good start?

Another adds: 'I don’t think the fashion world should support obesity, just as I don’t think it should support anorexia.'

I'm actually really pleased to see any attempts to address the horribly twisted body image that women are bombarded with today. But ideally, I would like to see models of a healthy average size. If someone's genetics gives them a larger body frame, it doesn't mean that they are doomed to dangerous weight. Healthy can weigh all over the spectrum. I agree that we have to be careful not to try and sell people on the obesity that is now an epidemic in our country.

But I admit, I certainly do hope the day will come when the 'coke wh*re' body ideal is trashed. If you are a healthy size 0, good for you! As a woman, I would love to see more healthy women closer to the average being spotlighted.

I really don't have anything to add that Dragonfly didn't already say; I pretty much completely agree.

I think it makes perfect sense to be attracted to women you wouldn't literally break, Paleo.

I've always been more of an athletic build guy myself. I like to see girls with muscles.

I guess the way I feel when I read articles like this is that I don't like being told what I should find attractive one way or the other. I honestly don't find either terribly attractive and the tone seems to say that I should feel guilty for admitting as much.

Paleocon wrote:

I honestly don't find either terribly attractive and the tone seems to say that I should feel guilty for admitting as much.

I didn't take it that way, but maybe I read it wrong.

I think the issue is that our culture has latched onto a particular superficial standard of beauty that is both unhealthy and, for most people, unrealistic. That's what I took the issue to be.

What paleo said but runner chicks. These were meh.

What most people don't realize is that anorexic's are also generally clinically obese. Their body eats their muscle tissue saving every ounce of fat for survival.

A magazine dedicated to plus-size fashion and models has sparked controversy with a feature claiming that most runway models meet the Body Mass Index criteria for anorexia.

The high-fashion industry pics runway models that are walking clothes-hangers (because that is exactly what they are).

My first thought here is that because the models may meet the BMI for anorexia doesn't mean they ARE anorexic. I can understand why people would be upset by that statement. It's like saying that because you have a glass of wine with dinner every night you're an alcoholic. Pretty offensive, right?

Appreciating healthy beauty standards are another matter, but people are attracted to what they're attracted to. Telling the skinny girl she's 'wrong' is just as bad as telling it to the plus-size girl.

IMAGE(http://www.bodyrock.tv/wp-content/themes/nerdery-skeleton-theme-v1/timthumb.php?src=http://bodyrock.tv/wp-content/Thumbnails/why-should-women-workout.jpg&w=594&h=412&c=1&q=100)

This is what I think is hotness.

Fat or "skinny fat" doesn't do it for me.

*edit: ^^^^ that's hot!

As long as she takes care of herself (eat right and stay active/work out) and isn't obese (coming in at more that what I weigh is a good metric) I'm more interested in her intellect and if she isn't "teh crazy". Then again I am much less shallow then my younger self and would tend to question the metrics of what they use here to figure out attractiveness. If it is based purely off of physical attributes I would have to disagree. I wouldn't be attracted to anyone with sub-average intellect as they would seem terribly boring and it would tend cause many arguments in the relationship due to lack of understanding.

That being said there is something to say about the dumb blond stripper, but I keed I keed!

/2¢

the general modeling industry has been eschewing unnaturally thin models for over 20 years now, in favor of people more closely resembling that picture Paleo posted. Just open a Victoria's secret catalogue or skim www.modelmayhem.com for evidence. When you contrast two niche markets - runway and plus size modeling, in this case - of course they're going to be startlingly different.

If we're talking about issues with the modeling industry, I would say the absolute fear of aging is a much more critical issue. Humans did not evolve to look 19 for decades, and yet somehow women like Cindy Crawford have successfully ceased aging.

I take issue with their "Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less." statement. I mean, in fairly recent past in the UK average weight and dress size of women (along with bra size) was much less due to diet. Without firm numbers those percentages are, at best, innocently misleading or, in the worst case scenario, outright leading the people reading that article into a false conclusion and thus playing the stats game.

I won't get into what i think about weight and size as that's a different thread and is, unfortunately, offensive or can offend many people.

You made me read a Daily Mail article! I feel dirty now.

Seth wrote:

the general modeling industry has been eschewing unnaturally thin models for over 20 years now, in favor of people more closely resembling that picture Paleo posted. Just open a Victoria's secret catalogue or skim www.modelmayhem.com for evidence. When you contrast two niche markets - runway and plus size modeling, in this case - of course they're going to be startlingly different.

If we're talking about issues with the modeling industry, I would say the absolute fear of aging is a much more critical issue. Humans did not evolve to look 19 for decades, and yet somehow women like Cindy Crawford have successfully ceased aging.

Truth.

The way my friend in the fashion industry put it, runway models are not supposed to be beautiful. They are supposed to showcase the clothes. This is one of the many reasons that their faces tend to be relatively plain, indistinct, and expressionless. Pick up a high fashion magazine and pick out a random sampling of 12 or so runway models and it is often difficult to tell them apart. So in that sense, stating that they are a standard of beauty is sort of like saying that freakish, steroid using, overtanned male bodybuilders are somehow the standard for male attractiveness. They define an outlier, but only the mentally ill would define it as normative.

I guess another issue I have with this article stems from this observation. By pulling the example of runway models and elevating that straw man (girl?) as "normative", they seem to be trying to downplay serious issues of obesity, health, and individual body image. The existence of one bad example does not validate the opposite extreme.

In the end, body image is a deeply individual and personal issue. What is appropriate for one person is what is appropriate for them. I know, for instance, that it is inappropriate for me to color my hair blonde, gain 50 pounds, or fake and bake myself like some goombah from the Jersey Shore. And I don't need a fashion magazine to tell me that.

Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.

Is that because fashion models got thinner, or did American and British women just get fatter?

Funkenpants wrote:

Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.

Is that because fashion models got thinner, or did American and British women just get fatter?

Given the massive increases in obesity in the UK and US in recent years, I'd guess it's the latter.

A quick bit of googling turns up this research, which suggests that an "average" person in the UK is actually overweight anyway (average BMI ~25.4).

Add "androgynous" to that list of requirements for high fashion / runway, too. You're absolutely correct that runway is a very special niche.

Hilarious side note. That model is size 12, meaning she's still a lot smaller than many women.

Funkenpants wrote:

Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.

Is that because fashion models got thinner, or did American and British women just get fatter?

I think mostly the latter.

When dress sizing was created, the average size was 8 (UK 10). I believe there's actually a size 10 mannequin stored next to the true kilogram and gram weights somewhere in the UK, but don't quote me on that. From what I understand it was a fairly standard bell curve on either side of this. Now I believe it's up to an American 14? Someone just posted an article elsewhere on that...clover, maybe.

So yeah, it's a weird dichotomy. The pressure on women is to be far too skinny, and I am no fan of bags of antlers (just see my posts in the Firefly thread). But at the same time, they (along with their male counterparts) are growing larger.

Minarchist wrote:
Funkenpants wrote:

Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.

Is that because fashion models got thinner, or did American and British women just get fatter?

I think mostly the latter.

When dress sizing was created, the average size was 8 (UK 10). I believe there's actually a size 10 mannequin stored next to the true kilogram and gram weights somewhere in the UK, but don't quote me on that. From what I understand it was a fairly standard bell curve on either side of this. Now I believe it's up to an American 14? Someone just posted an article elsewhere on that...clover, maybe.

So yeah, it's a weird dichotomy. The pressure on women is to be far too skinny, and I am no fan of bags of antlers (just see my posts in the Firefly thread). But at the same time, they (along with their male counterparts) are growing larger.

Dress sizes are also not terribly standard and the sizes themselves have gone up pretty steadily as well. When folks say that Marilyn Monroe was a size blank, they fail to recognize that the size inflation renders that statement pretty meaningless.

Oh, so they put on a couple pounds and we call it "size inflation?"

I think whenever someone can be a size 0, something is wrong with the system. You shouldn't be able to squeeze a single atom into a size 0. It's 0.

It gives a decent point of reference. You're right, though, it's a bad one. Monroe only weighed 118 pounds at five foot five (super short for a model, btw). Not exactly chubby.

The point that people miss is that she was beautiful, so who cares about her measurements? I think both the plus size model and the thinner model are beautiful in that article. Neither hold a candle to my wife, of course, but they're still beautiful.

Paleocon wrote:

Dress sizes are also not terribly standard and the sizes themselves have gone up pretty steadily as well. When folks say that Marilyn Monroe was a size blank, they fail to recognize that the size inflation renders that statement pretty meaningless.

I'm well aware of vanity sizing (see also: men's pants waistbands), but I think the article referred to the actual "standard sizing" for dresses to compare sizing, not "I wear a size 8 in Liz Clairborne". So I think it is a valid comparison, and not even worse as that would make it.

I haven't read the article, but my opinion is that if I can't motorboat on a randomly selected part of your body (Sorry hun, I know it tickles but I SWEAR I'm picking these at random), then you need a sandwich.

Rezzy wrote:

I haven't read the article, but my opinion is that if I can't motorboat on a randomly selected part of your body (Sorry hun, I know it tickles but I SWEAR I'm picking these at random), then you need a sandwich.

To each their own, I guess. I think I'm more on the "break an egg on her abs" side of the spectrum.

Best of both worlds. Break an egg on her abs, then motorboat her kneecaps.

All I really know is that toothpick arms are right out.

Paleocon wrote:
Rezzy wrote:

I haven't read the article, but my opinion is that if I can't motorboat on a randomly selected part of your body (Sorry hun, I know it tickles but I SWEAR I'm picking these at random), then you need a sandwich.

To each their own, I guess. I think I'm more on the "break an egg on her abs" side of the spectrum.

This right here is a big part of the problem. Different men (and women, for that matter) like different kinds of women, but we don't see that distribution in beauty magazines or most tv shows/movies. We see basically one type of woman. In fact, the two types referenced are both commonly preferred and under represented.

Hypatian wrote:

All I really know is that toothpick arms are right out.

Also this

I am confused. My girlfriend is proportioned like a playmate. She wants to get some holiday and stress eating weight off in the next few months, a barely noticeable bump in her tummy.

I am no Bradley Cooper, but seem to be regarded as good looking, in shape.

We can both still find eahother hot right? Or do I need to dump her and head to the nearest Old Country Buffet for meatier stock? Or do I need to get to the salon and find leaner? Will the larger or smaller women still laugh at my jokes? Will they cook for me? Will I be able to carry the larger women into the bedroom in a show of my love and strength?

Hypatian wrote:

All I really know is that toothpick arms are right out.

This. Fat, muscle, I don't care as long you have more than just skin covering your limbs. Bones aren't attractive.

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