Sunday, 28 June 2015

No, No One Thinks You Have to be Fat to be a "Real Woman"

Recently, there has been a slew of articles about a photoshoot of women who aren't models - popularly dubbed 'ordinary' or 'normal' or 'real' women - wearing Victoria's Secret swimming costumes. The photos they took were placed next to the ones in the catalogues, in which the suits were worn by models.

As it got thrown around social media, this was the photo that most often accompanied the headline:



Which is a perfectly valid example of a non-model wearing one of the swimming costumes the models wore. And most of the people I saw sharing it accepted that.

But I saw a handful of people making comments about it as if they were offended. Comments like:

Oh, so in order to be a real woman you have to be fat?

I see loads of women who could be models, why are they making such a big deal about it being unrealistic?

Comments that seemed to miss the point.

The point wasn't that she was fat. It was that she was the kind of woman who isn't typically photographed weaing revealing clothing, outside of pictures taken by friends and family.

It also showed they hadn't bothered to read the article before judging it. If they had looked at it, they'd see that only two of the six women involved were noticeably overweight.



Including those two women showed exactly the kind of diversity that the media, generally, doesn't. And that advertising and catalogues and other such outlets rarely do either. The difference in the shape, size and look of all of the women in the non-model photoshoot was designed to exeplify how ridiculous it is to expect all women to conform to such rigid standards of beauty as are projected in the mainstream media.

The main differences between the models and the non-models is not size. It's the wide variation between the women featured. They're not all the same shape, they're not all the same colour, they're not all perfectly tanned or waxed.

But they still look good in their swim suits, the way women do when they buy a swimming costume that suits them. They look confident and they look like they're enjoying themselves takng photos on the beach.

The point of the photoshoot isn't to show how unreaslistic the body shapes of typical models are, but to reflect the lack of diversity in mainstream modelling and to show how unnecessary that is. By taking many different kinds of women - including some whose photos aren't all that different from the originals - and not airbrushing their imperfections out, they show that modelling doesn't need to be so exclusive.

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