A Perspective about V Magazine's "Size Issue"

This is an opinion piece about V Magazine's upcoming "size issue," written by PR Director Patricia Kim. We discussed one spread in the issue, "One Size Fits All," in a previous post. While this article represents only one view on the topic, please feel free to include your own perspective in the comments below.

It has taken me about a decade to come to terms with the fact that there is nothing wrong with not being a size 0 or 2. For years I had been ashamed of my curvier features and more athletic build—yet if there is one thing that I have learned in college, it’s that living a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right (shocker, I know) will translate aesthetically and physically, whether you are a size 4 or a size 10. So when I heard through the grapevine that
V Magazine with photographer Solve Sundsbo would be celebrating 2010 as the year of curves in fashion, I was ecstatic—until I found the link.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as I was scrolling down—scantily clad, half-naked, “plus size” women working what their mommas gave them. Needless to say, I was shocked that a) fashion has chosen to shine their spotlight on someone that is not a size 0 and b) that this is fashion’s idea of “curvy”.

Although I find these women absolutely gorgeous, I find it incredulous that for most of the high-fashion world (perhaps with the exotic exception of Lara Stone) accentuating curves is directly tied to larger sizes. In short, just as my definition of thin in no way means underweight, the definition and standard of curvy should not mean overweight. As much as I love high fashion, there seems to be this obsession with extremes, which is exhilarating and liberating when it comes to clothes, yet disheartening and confusing when it comes to body image and weight conscientiousness.

Over the years we have criticized the concept of waif-like bodies, arguing the health risks that come with being too skinny as well as the consequences that come with trying to be too skinny (anorexia and bulimia). For example, a young woman that is 5’9 and 105 pounds with a BMI of 15.5, is considered very unhealthy and underweight. However, is someone that is 5’9 and 170 pounds with a BMI of 25.1 any healthier? In the same vain, is
V Magazine now saying that it is perfectly acceptable to put yourself at risk for diabetes and heart disease? I may be over-exaggerating.

This is not a question of whether or not people with varying weights are beautiful, for it is absolutely true when they say that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Personally, I find the models of
V Magazine’s January issue fierce and breathtaking. However, there is nothing positive or accurate about the message they are sending, for it is not healthy to be overweight, as there is a difference between the notions of overweight and curvy.

Then again, this is the fashion world—daring and unpredictable.

Pop singer Lady Gaga accepting her award for Best New Artist at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Image courtesy of MTV.

Just as I would never wear a see-through red lace dress with a matching facemask, I would never take health advice from high fashion.

Patricia Kim
Public Relations Director

6 comments:

  1. "For example, a young woman that is 5’9 and 105 pounds with a BMI of 15.5, is considered very unhealthy and underweight. However, is someone that is 5’9 and 170 pounds with a BMI of 25.1 any healthier?"
    As someone who is 5'10, with a 25 BMI, goes to the gym 5 times a week, and wearing a size 8/10, I'd appreciate if you would think twice before making such generalizations.
    You are in no more of a position to make sweeping statements about health as is the fashion world.

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

    http://www.judgmentofparis.com/

    They're all gorgeous.

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

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  3. This subject is way past due, and I personally think it's great that V has opened so many ways for us to interpret "size." Obviously since it has been such a neglected topic in the past, starting fresh will be a little difficult. There has been no foundation topics for us to base our discussions off of, and thus we all need to be careful of stepping on each other's toes (or at least in terms of wording these kinds of articles). Great start!

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  4. For anonymous, I apologize if I have offended you. However, I never said that wearing an 8/10 is in ANY way overweight. On a more personal note, I myself am a dress size 8 and do not see myself as overweight at all. My whole point was to show that the fashion industry does not portray what is healthy and the fact that they label what is overweight as curvy, may be confusing to other people.

    In terms of the BMI,the information that I researched for this piece has come from the Department of Health and Human Services. I should also add that for people that are extremely athletic, the BMI cannot possibly apply. Take our dear governor, for example. He is estimated to have a BMI of about 30.8, yet I do not see him as overweight and unhealthy in any way. Now, for someone such as yourself, anonymous, you clearly lead a healthy and very active lifestyle--so what I am saying is that all of this is relative to each individual's lifestyle.

    In terms of a piece like this, I cannot help but make sweeping generalizations, because the information and research that is provided makes sweeping generalizations. Furthermore, when I generalize, I am speaking to the not-as active crowd that does not go to the gym 5 times a week, because most of the population does not lead an active of a lifestyle as athletes do, who make up a smaller percentage of the world.

    In short, this piece was not meant to offend anyone. This piece was to provide some sort of clarity as well as challenge the hierarchy or authority that fashion seems to hold over the concept of beauty.

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  5. given that a "healthy" bmi was only recently lowered to 18 from 20, yes a 25.1 bmi is a helluva lot healthier than a 15.5. Last time I was at my doctor's office the BMI grid didn't even bother filling out options below 17.5. Being slightly overweight is a lot healtheir than being significantly underweight.

    More important, every bmi point below healthy range is a pretty signficant and unhealthy drop, with greater and more dangerous returns than every point about 25. It's 40 to reach morbid obesity and people live sometimes fairly healthy even above that.

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  6. So good topic really i like any post talking about Health Articles but i want to say thing to u Health not that only ... you can see in Health ideas Control and the body-mind and more , you shall search in Google and Wikipedia about that .... thanks a gain ,,,

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