Friday, August 17, 2012

ESSENCE Gets It Right

Lots of women's magazines give lip service to decrying the use of unnaturally thin models for their fashion spreads. In particular, Glamour does a pretty good job of regularly including features with women "of all sizes" - I seem to remember articles where women appear in swimsuits, in lingerie, in jeans.

"big" models in a V Magazine feature...they look pretty thin to me
And the women are all different heights and range from rail thin to...biggish. But not really big. Because the NEW fashion message seems to be hey, there's room for everyone here, as long as you interpret "plus" size to be, well, on the not-very-plus-at-all end of plus.

There are fashion magazines serving large women: BBW - Big Beautiful Women - is one. These do feature clothes for women of size, but the entire magazine is sort of issue-oriented. And so my sense is there's a sort of schism:  women up to size 12 or 14 or so may read Glamour, the rest line up at door number two, where you aren't allowed to separate fashion from core size-ist identity.

But the other day I was paging through the new issue of Essence and I saw something different: an entire fashion layout featuring a model who is truly plus sized. And the title of the piece is "Modern Girl in a Retro World." "Rock your sexy silhouette," exhorts the text, without one bit of commentary on her size.

i couldn't find pix from the article i'm talking about, but essence routinely
features women of size - this is Amber Riley from Glee
I'm not really here to criticize - I think women's magazines have come a long, long way (and I routinely read Junior's Seventeen to see what issues they're tackling, and am generally impressed).  I just want to give Essence credit for a job well done.

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