Fashion

Mariotti: Fashion magazines fail in their attempts to cater to people of different shapes, sizes

If you’ve ever flipped through a fashion magazine, you’ve inevitably run into one of those guides on how to dress your body type. It usually gives you four meaningless options: boyish, pear-shaped, athletic, and — the always ambiguous — curvy.

Does anyone really fit into just one of these options?

Magazines look to celebrities to give the reader examples of these body shapes. “Wear black to slim a curvy figure — like Beyoncé! Or Jessica Biel! Or Katherine Heigl!”

Wait, what? All of these women have a “curvy” figure? Seems to me that the only criterion for having a curvy figure is possessing boobs and hips.

The usual complaint about fashion magazines is the lack of size diversity, with tall and skinny models manipulated to “perfection.” But lately, magazines have attempted to incorporate “real” women into fashion stories. In the October issue of Lucky Magazine, Editor in Chief Brandon Holley announced that they would be featuring more content and tips for more body types. In Lucky’s new “I Never Thought I Could Wear That!” feature, “real, curvy” women get style makeovers to suit their body types. Since when is “curvy” a synonym for “real”? If I have a so-called “boyish” shape, am I fake?

On the cover of the aforementioned Lucky issue, Christina Aguilera poses for the lens while the feature quotes her saying that she loves her voluptuous figure. Unfortunately, Lucky isn’t as welcoming to her curves. The cover shot and two images inside the magazine only show her face and upper torso.

Magazines love to be overzealous in congratulating celebrities for getting back to their pre-baby body; the media just about forced Jessica Simpson to try Weight Watchers after she gained her baby weight. But what about those who aren’t working to lose weight? A hilarious quote by Amy Adams in InStyle magazine shows that weight gain is just a part of life. She said, “I read about these actresses who get on a stationary bike two weeks after giving birth and I’m like, ‘What? Where did you push your baby out of?’ Since having Aviana, I have a muffin top, and that’s OK right now.”

It seems like magazines aren’t really sure how to categorize these celebrities, so they overanalyze them. Take, for example, Christina Hendricks. Search her name on Google and people aren’t talking about her role on “Mad Men” — they’re talking about her weight.

While critics call her an inspiration and a role model, she is still taken aback by all of the negative attention. She told New York Magazine, “It kind of hurt my feelings at first. Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body! It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” Hendricks even said she struggles to find designer dresses to borrow for award shows, as designers only lend out sizes 0 and 2.

Though it seems like she shouldn’t have to defend her body, the fashion world just doesn’t get it.

However, the fashion world is beginning to realize they can’t ostracize bigger women.Larger models are never shown in fashion spreads, on runways or in fashion advertisements. As the public demanded size diversity, fashion magazines tried to change their attitudes.

Marie Claire’s online article, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even On TV?),” was publically reprimanded when writer Maura Kelly said she wouldn’t watch CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly” because she finds it “aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room.” So, fashion magazineswent in the opposite direction, falling over themselves to praise celebrities and models that are “curvy.” Then, they went overboard, calling almost every famous woman curvy. Us Weekly even posted pictures of Taylor Swift “showing off her curves” at the beach. Yep, even willowy Taylor Swift has become a target of the blanket term.

It’s a way for magazines to say “Hey! Look! We’re accepting of all body types!” without actually doing so. I guess we should just embrace our curvy/pear-shaped/carrot-shaped/person-shaped bodies.

  • Bostonway

    Ahhh, your position has limited merit. Bottom line: regardless of population trends, we don’t want to portray that being fat is okay, the norm, accepted, etc. It is NOT. It is primarily the result of bad behavior (over eating) and lack of behavior (regular exercise). Stop the coddling!

  • SUstudent1

    Great article! By no means are you coddling fat people, although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means. Fashion magazines should cater to the average women, who is in fact around a size 14. Just because the SU campus is limited in how they see different body types doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

  • Otaymah Bonds

    I couldn’t agree more!!!! I thought that it was just me. But, the more I looked at ‘curvy’ types of celebrity bodies. The more they ALL seemed vastly different, yet UN curvy. LOL. and SMH

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