Thursday, January 14, 2010

V magazine puts out a "size issue"

The latest issue of V magazine, which comes out today, has been making news for a while now, as photos from the issue have been leaked and posted around the Internet. The issue is being called the "size issue," and features women -- some professional models, some not -- with various body shapes. There are two covers (pictured), featuring actresses Gabourey Sidibe and Dakota Fanning.

I don't know what to make of this trend at this point. A number of magazines are jumping on the "plus-size" model train, but it doesn't seem that any magazine is really doing what most women are calling for: featuring "regular" women regularly. Every time a women's magazine does feature non-size-zero models/women, it has to point it out and congratulate itself. The "regular" women aren't featured regularly, or without commentary. The only exception I can think of is when Glamour used a small photo of Lizzie Miller toward the back of an issue in the fall. I'm not positive, but I think that photo was published with no fanfare; that came later.

One thing is for sure: featuring models/women in your magazine who aren't traditional size 0-2 is a guaranteed way to get publicity. Another thing nearly for sure: featuring those women is probably going to result in those women being shot nude. I don't know why -- to properly "show" these women's bodies? Because if they're naked, you know without a doubt they aren't "thin"? Putting clothes on them runs the risk of making them look, in fact, "normal," and we need to be able to distinguish between them and the size 0-2 models? Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the nude photos, but as Emili Vesilind wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "If there are no clothes featured in the images, it's hardly a fashion spread." Are they not wearing clothes because designers don't make clothes for these body shapes?

Is this all a step toward featuring non size 0-2 models in women's magazines on a regular basis? I don't know. For now, it seems like a fad. I also suspect magazines would like to use "regular" women more often, but might be limited by what the designers are making. No size 12 clothes = no size 12 models. If nothing else, this issue of V magazine has generated a lot of discussion and it does show a variety of body shapes, and I think the more we see variety, the more used to it everyone will become. I know there are concerns about exploitation, and I do think some of that is going on (actually, I think that can happen in any women's magazine, regardless of the size of the model). What do you think?

Numerous articles are out there about this issue of V, some with photo galleries. Some of them:
  • New York Times: "The Triumph of the Size 12s"
  • Boston Globe: "Here's the skinny"
  • Fox News: "V magazine's 'size issue' features plus-size models" (photo gallery)
  • has a couple photo galleries; see the links on the left to others (warning: some photos NSFW; full on nudes ahead)
  • CNN: "Will 2010 be the 'year of plus'?"

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