I was going through my newsfeed today (thank you www.Feedly.com) and I came across an article from Business Insider today titled: Meet the supermodel who is about to make history for Sports Illustrated. The gist of the story is a model who is considered plus-sized will be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Now, for those of you who know we well and/or have followed me and my work for a while – you know what’s coming. For those of you who are newer to my Blog and to my work, I promise to remain civil.
You see, I don’t consider this an accomplishment at all. What would be an accomplishment for me would be for there to NOT be a swimsuit edition. What does wearing a bathing suit (or not wearing one…) have to do with Sports? I ask because the title of the magazine is Sports Illustrated…How is treating women like pieces of meat or representing the idea of beauty through physical attributes only an accomplishment?
Some people say, “What’s the harm? It’s just a magazine and others do it.” And a phrase comes to mind that my parents used to share with me as a kid: “If [insert name here] jumped off a bridge, would you?” I would roll my eyes and either say ‘No’ or just not respond because I already knew the answer.
Well, to those who ask those original questions, I say there is great harm in showing pictures of women in provocative poses and saying others do it is not a good excuse. I am guessing the women agreed to take the pictures so it’s not as if they are under duress (or at least I hope not) while in photo shoots BUT I don’t see many upsides to publishing the photos. Sure, money is involved but what is the creation and selling of these images contributing to?
I am serious when I ask this question: what is the contribution of publishing the photos – even of a women who is defined as ‘plus-sized’? Is it showing strength? Love? Support? Contribution? Where is the value-add, for business and for humanity?
I know that physical appearance is part of how we are judged in society. And I’m not saying be a slob and to stop taking showers. But what I am saying is that we should value people as people, not on their physical appearance alone. And here’s an example of why:
- Have you ever met someone you thought was cute or handsome or pretty or attractive but you got to talking with them and their personality shined through and by the end of the conversation, they weren’t as cute or handsome or pretty or attractive as you initially thought?
- How about the flip side of that experience…Have you ever met someone who you were not initially attracted to but as you got to talking to them, their personality shined through and by the end of the conversation you viewed them in a completely different light?
It’s very natural to do that because our senses work in wonderful and mysterious ways. And therein lies my argument against celebrating a ‘plus-sized’ model in Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. There is no celebration of the person, it’s a ‘fake’ celebration on embracing women of all shapes and sizes. But it does nothing to move society in a positive direction of embracing a person for who they are and not necessarily how you perceive their looks.
I have personal experience with being on both sides of the spectrum:
- I was overweight when I started high school and suffered from that – physically and mentally
- I was underweight 2 years later in high school, diagnosed with anorexia and suffered from that – physically and mentally
It wasn’t until I was able to start embracing me for ME that I could break out of my cycle. I had to shut out the voices who said I was fat when I was overweight and those who told me at first I looked great (when I was losing the weight) and then that I was too thin (when I went too far). And that experience was such an interesting one for me because I was congratulated on losing the weight yet I was the same person I was before. I ‘learned’ that losing weight equalled complements – sort of anyway. And that is a cycle that needs to be stopped. Yes, people need to be at a healthy weight for their bodies (the United States is suffering greatly from bad eating and exercise habits) but one or 2 body types don’t need to be celebrated. We need to celebrate healthy minds and bodies.
So, getting back to the original idea which prompted this post today. I truly believe that beauty is to be celebrated but I also believe the celebration of a ‘plus-sized’ model in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition is Premature.