The XX Factor

Why the Plus-Size Model in Glamour Isn’t Really Progress

By now you’ve already heard : Based on the thunderous applause for the three-inch photograph of plus-size model Lizzi Miller on p.194 of September’s Glamour , the magazine is now going to feature naked plus-size models in the November issue. I don’t see this as progress.

It’s true that Lizzi Miller’s photo underscores just how freakishly tall and whippet-thin standard models are. But the unattainable silhouettes of the birds correspond perfectly to the unattainable lifestyle that is promoted between the covers. And, personally, I don’t like facts mingling with fiction. When women’s magazines get out of the ad business-when journalism trumps mere product placement-then yes, I’ll embrace Susan Meiselas -style documentary fashion spreads instead of fantasy productions.

The psychological stress incurred by a bombardment of impossible physical standards runs deep. I’ve watched two people close to me nearly die of starvation, and the number of women I know with disordered eating is too high to count. But rather than greet Lizzi Miller as progress I think we should be asking: Is it wise to seek redress from a mainstream publication? Furthermore, why isn’t anybody questioning the merits of “regular” women demanding to see representation of themselves everywhere? Why must everything be a mirror? Narcissism, it appears, isn’t just a Beautiful People problem. It runs rampant among the fat, the short, and the not-young too.