Plus-size models: A new standard of beauty?

Will Glamour's photograph of plus-size model Lizze Miller—naked but for a thong and with her modest roll of belly fat fully evident —inspire others to use more average-sized women in their photo shoots?&

It’s “the picture people can’t stop talking about,” said Jeneé Osterheldt in The Kansas City Star. Way back on Page 194 of this month’s Glamour is a smallish photograph of plus-size model Lizzie Miller, naked but for a thong, her natural, voluptuous beauty enhanced by a modest roll of belly fat. Within days of the magazine’s publication, Glamour’s website was swamped with posts from hundreds of grateful women, overjoyed to see a model who “looks like an everyday girl.” Miller’s photo may prove to be a “game-changer” for the fashion industry, said Michael Inbar in Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive said the reaction to the photo will “absolutely” inspire editors and designers to use more average-size women in their photo shoots. If she’s right, Lizzie Miller may go down in history for having struck a decisive “blow for the Everywoman.”

Sometimes I mourn “the gullibility of my sex,” said Jemima Lewis in the London Sunday Telegraph. Every month, virtually every women’s magazine features “the prose equivalent of Lizzie Miller’s belly”: an article exhorting women to be happy with who they are and to “love the skin they’re in,” sandwiched between hundreds of pages of “airbrushed, pubescent,” stick-thin models. It’s a “familiar trick” whose point, of course, is to keep women feeling just good enough about themselves to keep reading, but not so good that they stop spending every penny of disposable income chasing an impossible standard of beauty. Anyone who thinks the industry is about “to abandon such a lucrative formula” is hopelessly naïve.

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