Friday, October 2, 2009

glamourous revolution? i think not.


i feel like such a bitter person, but honestly? this image has been all over the internet and i felt like i needed to address my problems with it. this picture does not seem revolutionary to me. reblogged on tumblr, written about on jezebel, and i even watched the video when it was first revealed on ellen to much praise and adulation. i think my problem with it is that it really strikes me as… well, a new standard body.

why? because it does not look like the women i know. they all look the same, or at least similar... their skin even almost blends together into a fleshy mound. sure, maybe they look a bit more like me than the runway models, but i don’t see myself, i don’t see my friends. the long windswept locks, the perfect skin, the sexy faces. they don’t look like they are saying, “i am happy in my body! and you should be, too!” rather, to me, it seems like they are saying “i will seduce you, white man behind the camera.” it is so obvious they are in a photo studio. it seems so obvious that the magazine put out a call for models sized 10-16, not for fat women who are happy in their bodies and would like to be all sussed up for a glossy photo. not to mention the fact that it looks photoshopped, but that's a whole other can of worms we can unleash another day.


juxtaposing this image with the one that set this firestorm alight, the photo of lizzie miller, really brings out what i think bothers me about this "these bodies are beautiful" photograph. the photo of lizzie miller in the september issue struck such a chord with people particularly because it seemed natural. you can read the responses yourself on the glamour magazine website. when reading some of the letters, the word "normal" and "real" are so dominant, which is something we should really be investigating. but, back to the photograph for a moment: it wasn’t necessarily her body, but the photo itself, that inspired women. not only does she seem natural, but the setting does as well. it's almost as if she had just rolled out of bed and was talking with a friend or a lover outside of the frame of the shot. this "naturalness" really stands out when we look at it in comparison to the image of the seven plus-sized models. her tiny belly roll and fleshy thighs was something that is never seem in mainstream magazines, definitely, but for me it was more the naturalness of the photograph that made it a great photo.

this studio photo, in comparison, sucks. the one woman of colour seems tokenized to me, and they all look prepped for heteronormative consumption. i’m surprised they didn’t have a redhead to balance out the brunettes and blondes. even in the big reveal of the photograph on ellen's talk show, she asks if there will be more ethnic diversity in the magazine as well, because anyone who has seen this photo can see that there ain't much of that going on here. and like i alluded to earlier, they all seem to be primped and preened for the heterosexual male gaze. they all look able-bodied, and really, when you get down to the heart of it, this image is not very different from images of women we've been subjected to countless times before.

for me, the real problem here is that women’s bodies are still being objectified. why was this photo taken? to make "normal" women feel better about their bodies? fuck no! it was made to sell more magazines. change the size, change the standard, but we are still living in a culture where women’s bodies are used to sell products. and that is what the real problem is, and a problem that no one wants to talk about. (well, except maybe for target women.)

the fact of the matter is that yes, it is a small victory that their is a two-page spread in a mainstream magazine showing bodies that they normally don't, but it is hardly revolutionary. i have never read glamour magazine and don't plan on starting now. just look at the cover of this exact same issue: a sexed up, pantsless scarlett johansson. what is in this magazine? talking about sex and love (in a heteronormative way, of course, and remember you're nothing if you're single), how to get great skin (and what products to buy to get it, i assume), and oh! what is that there in tiny font? "the beauty revolution starts on page 198."


198? how many pages are in this magazine? if it were really a revolution, shouldn't it start on page 1? on the cover?

what do you guys think?

am i being too harsh, or not harsh enough?

8 comments:

nervrom said...

no way man. you proved your point and its a good one. I like this. keep going.

Karley said...

You're totally right on the mark, girl!!

google_account said...

I've always been a fan of plus-size 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.

6p011168699635970c said...

I really enjoyed this.. particularly - "it does not look like the women i know. they all look the same, or at least similar... their skin even almost blends together into a fleshy mound. sure, maybe they look a bit more like me than the runway models, but i don... Read More’t see myself, i don’t see my friends. the long windswept locks, the perfect skin, the sexy faces. they don’t look like they are saying, “i am happy in my body! and you should be, too!” rather, to me, it seems like they are saying “i will seduce you, white man behind the camera.”"

Yes yes yes yes yes.

And as for baby steps - I never was a fan of baby steps.


(I don't know why my username is showing up as a jumble of numbers, but this is Holly)

hannah said...

i totally agree. ladies 'fashion' mags like this SUCK with caps. do women over the age of 15 really still read these and take them seriously? i guess some probably do.. anyway, if anyone thinks this spread is a revolution, well, i think you just ripped that to shreds.

hannah + landon said...

ohh i love you. this is a fad as any other, it's (sadly) not going to revolutionize beauty standards as it so claims. a generous attempt, glamour.

Rose said...

Awesome post! Funny I thought the exact same thing when I saw that photo the other week...hrmmm none of them look like me or anyone I know. I mean how can all of those women have not one mole, stretch mark, wrinkle! Theyre actually making women feel worse...if those women are 'normal' and i dont look like them...what am I!
Love your take on the Glamour mags revolutionary normal body feature. Your blog really makes me think more.

Rose

catherine_sr. said...

I agree... I wasn't a fan of the first photo because I failed to see the "revolution" in a photo of naked women staring with "come hither" looks into the camera. I appreciate what Glamour is trying to do, but there a billion other ways they could have done this styled and posed this shoot.

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