Who Wants Average?

According to the editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine, Robbie Myers, on the Today Show yesterday, “Average women are not actually inspired to look at women who look like them.  In fact, they respond more to women who are a little bit above average.”  What!?

She explained this as meaning the following:  seeing someone who looks like her, doesn’t make her want to go out and go shopping.   The “her” being the average women.  So while according to the editor, curves are back, she clearly doesn’t mean OUR curves.  She means curvy model curves.  She says it is noteworthy that a top fashion designer used a Victoria’s Secret model in his show.  Oh come on!  Since when does that count as average curves?

Myers went on to say that the average American woman is 5′ 3″ tall, weighs 164.7 pounds, has a 36 inch waist, and a 29.2 BMI.  (The graphic on this credited the Center for Disease Control.)  She said that we don’t want to see that body when we look at fashion and movies; we want an “idealization.”  ” There is something always aspirational when you look at television, when you look at movies.”

When asked about this supposed trend towards curviness being in, Myers explains that “We’re fatter as a nation.  We’re heavier than we used to be even 15 years ago.  The average woman has put on 20 pounds.”  She does say that this is not great news but goes on to explain that women are  more comfortable in our own skin.  Hmm, I say.  Are we?  And if we are so comfortable in our own skins, why don’t we want to see ourselves in the media, instead choosing to see the bodies we can only aspire to?

Coincidentally, another segment on the same show was about Glamour magazine using “real” women in their pages.  One of the cover models was on the show; a plus-size model at size 12.  (In pink at left.)  The average American woman is a size 14.  The shots shown from the magazine were, in my opinion, not average women.  I think we would all love to look so average!   Meredith Viera suggested women want to see clothes on models their own size to see what the items really look like.   The magazine editor, Cindi Leive, responded that they had gotten comments asking if they were promoting obesity and went on to say (first clarifying that obviously the models in the issue were not obese), “If you do have a weight problem, seeing someone who’s not just a size zero, seeing someone who slightly more closely resembles you, helps you gain a sense of respect for your body and that’s where good health starts.”  And while I agree in principal, I have to wonder if her models are really that closely resembling the average woman.  Me thinks not.

So I pose the question to you…  Do women want to see themselves reflected in magazines?  Or some ideal?



Filed under influence of others, shopping

28 responses to “Who Wants Average?

  1. Being a black person I want to see more black people in magazines but I never wanted to see more overweight people.

    I do think that models are too skinny and I roll my eyes when I read certain headlines like, “Big Butt? Here’s How to Fix It” and the model is a size negative 5.

    I think it depends on the magazine. I read fitness magazine so I don’t want to see only overweight people but I wish there were more success stories. That would be more motivating. I don’t read fashion mags and I wouldn’t start even if they showed more realistic models.

    I don’t think more women are comfortable. I think more women may have accepted being overweight. I went through a period like that. Still hated how I looked but accepted that I was going to be overweight.

    I’m rambling. Sorry. I just woke up. I’ll have to come back later.
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Mini Spinach Quiches =-.

    • Karen

      I don’t read fashion magazines either. I do like seeing fit women in fitness mags but they could show some more normal sized every once in a while!

  2. I don’t read magazines anymore. Not really. I’m too busy reading blogs…

    But, I would appreciate having the pictures online modeled. It wouldn’t be that hard to have three models wear the dress. I want to see what I’m buying on someone like me. Yes.

    I think that we should not promote obesity, especially morbid obesity, by glamorizing it. But we also shouldn’t pretend it isn’t there. Already I can look around a room and be at a ‘healthier’ weight than 75% of the women there. I’m still 20 pounds overweight.

    Maybe my perception is off. Maybe everyone’s is. I think we should amend that without advertising something that could kill us. That’s not too hard, is it? he he.
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..My Mum =-.

  3. What they fail to discuss in either of those segments is how much airbrushing/Photoshopping goes into those pictures. She may very well be a size 12 but she looks better in that photo than I do at a size 6 with all my loose skin, cellulite, stretch marks, and so on!

    At any rate, they are still focusing on “size” and in the big picture, size is but one element. You can be a size 12 and healthy, or a size 4 and very unhealthy. My fear is that accepting “larger” sizes leads to a relaxed attitude about health problems associated with being overweight.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Confession Monday =-.

    • Karen

      I saw something once that showed some photos before touch up and after. It was amazing how they narrowed waists and thighs that were already very slim, in my opinion. And you are right – you can be unhealthy or healthy regardless of the size you wear.

  4. Isn’t it crazy what “the industry” considers plus size. Seriously??

    My mom and I were shopping one time in a department store and I saw these manniquins. I said…”why do they have child size manniquins in this section?” My mom laughed and said…”their petite….their our size.” I walked up to the manniquin…sure enough…I was the same height. I’m 5’2″…it was so weird.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..I did it…I did it…. =-.

    • Karen

      Get this – a size 10 is plus size too! I am about the same height. I did wonder how tall those models are.

  5. A size 12 is considered a plus size, really? I would like to see real bodies in advertisements not the over skinny,photo shopped, air brushed unrealistic photos we are subjected too.

    How are young girls every suppose to know what a real body looks like when they are shown these fake photos that don’t resemble real womens bodies?
    .-= Tami´s last blog ..Shopping Spree and Mothering =-.

  6. Is that a designer 12 or a real size 12? Because a designer 12 is like a 6/8 in the real world. I love how they never mention that.

    Honestly, I stopped reading fashion magazines. The point was to sell me stuff I didn’t need with the promise of making my life better.

    Seeing plus sized models doesn’t really effect my self image, that’s pretty much set. I think in general it’s nice having folks that are closer to reality especially for our young woman out there who are still developing their identity.
    .-= Rita @ The Giggly Bits´s last blog ..I’ll Cry if I Want to =-.

  7. Interesting post, Karen. I guess I’m used to NOT seeing myself in movies, TV, magazines and catalogs. I’m taller, older, not athletic and always heavier (even at my slimmest) than the models. Has it affected my sense of self-worth? Probably, some. Would it help if media showed women like me in a respectful light? Maybe, a little. However, I’m trying to stop placing importance on appearances, both for myself and in my expectations and opinions of others. Good, thought-provoking post… Thanks!
    .-= Peacefulbird´s last blog ..Help Along the Way =-.

    • Karen

      Good for you! I don’t worry about it much either but I might like clothing catalogs to have bodies more like mine, now and then.

  8. I have to admit I don’t read fashion magazines any more. I think it is a bit insulting that they push a couple of size 12 models out in front of the camera and talk it up like they are sooo inclusive, all the while airbrushing them like crazy…

    As for ads, they won’t be using plus size models much any more as studies have shown most women don’t want to buy products from women who “look heavy unless it is for a gym or for weight loss.” Personally I would like to see a size 20 woman modeling a size 20 dress if that is what I am shopping for – but I am not especially vain.
    .-= Brightside Susan´s last blog ..TALKING TO NO ONE =-.

    • Karen

      I have seen an outfit in a magazine before and thought… if it makes that model look fat, imagine what it would do for me!

  9. first off…I am appalled that a size 12 would be considered plus…wtf???

    Really, I think its just what we are used to…if the models slowly became more realistic…no one would question it. Its just that we are used to looking at those aweful underweight girls…and thinking THIS is beauty. Its only beauty in THIS culture…many other cultures think its repulsive to look at someone so close to starving.

    Interesting post!
    .-= losingmore´s last blog ..Back! 🙂 =-.

    • Karen

      Size 10 is plus too! I read once that for runway, with those super skinny girls, the designers think the clothes hang better. But who is supposed to buy them?

  10. This was a fantastic post. Hmmm…I DO NOT believe that girl on the left was a 12. Why? Because I’m a 10 and don’t look a thing like that skinny girl! I’m even tall. Anyways…enough of that. I do think that it’s nice to look at girls that are smaller. It really pushes me to look my best; however, I have to know myself enough to know when my best is my best. It won’t be a size 0…I’ve gotta be okay with that!
    .-= Corletta Brown´s last blog ..SERIOUSLY… =-.

  11. As I’ve confessed in the past, I’m not particularly fashion-focused. 🙂 That said, I don’t really care what size a woman is, but I do wish more models looked like real women. What does a particular outfit look like on a woman whose upper half is a size or two above her lower half? Or vice versa.
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..Product Review: Dove Ultimate =-.

  12. Great post Karen. I read a lot of magazines, fashion and fitness mags, and I don’t even like the super skinny models. I think that our tastes are changing to a more athletic look, rather than skrawny like the fashion models. I like to see muscle tone and a bit of boobs and butt. But I don’t like to see cellulite and rolls of fat on a model. I don’t like to see it in real life, so why would I pay money for a magazine with pictures of that! That’s just my opinion.
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Boston trip, Weekend Warriors, and my favorite month of the year! =-.

  13. Genie

    I wish there was a “fashion” magazine that showed real sized women (and not only young ones) with not-perfect bodies looking awesome dressed in clothes that I can afford.

    I know, I know, it’s silly…..

    • Karen

      I don’t read the magazines, but I would like to see it in catalogs. To see what the clothes might actually look like on real people.

  14. I think I’d like to see more NORMAL looking women, not necessarily plus-sized ones. I don’t think that it’s a lot to ask for women who weight 160-200 to be featured in a magazine and not labeled as plus sized- what then does that make women who weight more than 200lbs?

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