Monday, March 31, 2008

skewed perception

The other night, I was looking through the photo galleries at The Judgment of Paris. My boyfriend, as he often does, plopped down on the couch next to me to see what I was doing and if he could do it with me (sometimes he's very high-maintenance).

"What are you doing?"

"Looking at pictures of plus-sized models."

"Can I look, too?" (Pause.) "Wow...she's HOT!"

As we looked through the photo galleries, I commented that most of the pictures don't look "plus-sized" to me. They look normal size. Not big, not small — normal. For instance, this cover from the dearly departed, sorely missed MODE absolutely doesn't look "plus-size" to me. I mean, what would make it "plus-size"? Her boobs? There's nothing about Natalie Laughlin on that cover that — to me — looks larger than normal.

Almost every photo we came to, I said, "In what world is THAT 'plus-sized'? I don't get it!"

Finally, T. said to me, "You don't read fashion magazines, do you? I mean, I've never seen you reading anything other than Health and Macworld."

I said that no, I don't read fashion magazines, because I'm not terribly interested in them, and they generally feature clothes that I could never afford anyway.

"Well," T. said, "I think that's why these models don't seem 'plus-size' to you — you just aren't used to seeing the very skinny models in fashion magazines these days."

Huh. I hadn't even thought about that. He's right, though. The models in Vogue, et al., aren't on my radar these days. I used to read fashion magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle years ago, but I haven't for a long time. And when I see photos of plus-size models, who are my size (or smaller), they look normal to me, because they look like what I see in the mirror every day.

And even though I have my own struggles with accepting my body, I'm glad — I'm THRILLED — that I've internalized a standard for "normal" beauty that truly IS closer to the average woman than most advertisers would have me believe.


Rachel said...

Heh, I just posted a blog post along this same vein. We've normalized extreme thinness so much, that even average-sizes are the new "plus-sizes."

Fillyjonk said...

I've noticed that after I've been looking at photos on Fatshionista for a while, typical models look very, VERY skinny -- and the opposite applies as well. There's no question in my mind that we as a society have normalized a particular body type, through an onslaught of images, in a way that makes everything bigger look downright huge -- and "everything bigger" is 99% of the population.