Feast, famine and fashion: where my size 8's at?

Posted at 2:13 PM Sep 17, 2009

By Andrea Grimes


Now that a beautiful lady with a belly roll has appeared in Glamour, we can all stop worrying about media portrayals of women and weight and go dance in flowery fields with butterflies and champagne and celebrate the end of body issues forever, right? Nah. For some folks, it seems like the Lizzie Miller photo and the existence of More To Love (shudder) have signaled some kind of magic turn in our culture toward not glorifying unattainable bodies. I'm sure I don't have to tell you Dolls that I, ah, don't agree.

But what about average bodies? Almost all models are either a size 0-4 or a 12 or above. To illustrate: when St. Louis teen Jennie Runk, a lovely size 8 gal, got a modeling contract, she opted to gain, rather than lose, weight. Apparently there's no room for middle-sizes in the world of modeling. Runk is profiled in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today:

Runk has long auburn hair that falls in a thick mass of curls, ocean blue eyes that can mist over into a sea green, a statuesque figure and a wry, charming smile. The combination is often stunning, so she got used to hearing strangers remark, "You should be a model." She'd heard the refrain since she was a small child. Runk never took the suggestions seriously. She was 14 years old and called herself a "book nerd." She wore a size 8, had an hourglass figure and loved Dr. Pepper and Doritos. At the time, she thought model meant super-skinny.

Then one day she got a very real offer from a local model scouting duo, Mary and Jeff Clarke of Mother Model Management. For the first time, she had to make a very real decision about her weight.
Runk put on around 20 lbs so she could wear a size 12 and therefore be a "plus size" model, though she still exercises every day to maintain her figure. Still, she says she has trouble shopping at plus size stores because she's at the smallest end of the plus curve.

As the reader who tipped me off to this article said, "sizes 2-8 are invisible, ten and beyond is controversial, and 0 is the norm." I would love to see some more middle-range ladies in magazines and advertisements. It doesn't help curvy girls to see a rail-thin model walking around in no-pants leggings, because they can't get a good idea of what styles work on their own bodies. I'd love to see some size 8 and 10 ladies modeling clothes so that I can say, "Oh, she's got thighs like me. But those jeans look fantastic. I'll take 'em!"


BorgQueen said:

Why can't we put aside the size issue completely and show models of ALL sizes in ALL magazines? Skinny, "average," plus and everything in between. THAT is what REAL women look like, all of those things. There is something wrong when we canonize a magazine for showing exactly ONE woman who is a larger size than the 10,000 other women in the issue. It is sad that this girl had to gain weight just to get a job, just like it is sad when a model has to live on lettuce and diet coke to stay employed. Women come in all shapes and sizes and so should clothes. If not for the self-esteem issue it just makes good sense.

TheRedQueen said:

You know what I want? I want the industry to stop calling size 12 girls plus size models. For those of us who are plus-size our sizes start at 18.

Frances said:

It's ridiculous how women are represented in the media. The thought that any woman would have to change her lifestyle to stay employed, whether by sustaining herself on no doz and cigarettes, or cheeseburgers and french fries, makes me ill. And yes, I do feel less inclined to buy a $200 pair of jeans when I see them showcased on a rail thin model.

Lois said:

I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:


They're all gorgeous.

The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

greengeekgirl said:

@TheRedQueen: I agree whole-heartedly! Size 12 isn't "plus" size. Size 16 barely tips into it. Even "plus" size lines don't always carry clothes for plus-size women because it starts at 12 and ends at like 20! I'm always righteously pissed to see plus-sized clothes on size 12 girls--they don't look anything like me, and thus I can't tell how that look is going to be.

We, as women, shouldn't take this lying down. We're all sick of it. We need to stop buying the magazines and voice our complaints; we need to demand that clothing stores use models that represent the customers; as long as we keep forking over our cash, they'll never change their image. When companies pop up that do use normal-sized people, or actual plus-sized people for plus lines, we should support them. We need to hit these people where it hurts--their bank accounts. They will listen, then. :)

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