Earlier this week, Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive wrote a blog post about a photo in the magazine’s September issue that has caused her inbox to overflow. The 3-by-3-inch photo on page 194 of the magazine is of 20-year-old model Lizzi Miller in a practically non-existent pair of underwear. What got Glamour readers so excited was how normal Miller looks. She’s a size 12 to 14, and has a little pudge on her stomach.
Leive suggests readers toast Miller and “the spectacular sexiness of owning who you are,” and goes on to say that Glamour is listening, and asks what kinds of images women would like to see in the magazine. If this is the kind of image that gets women excited, why don’t magazines print more like it? While it is a nice idea to believe that magazines are created for their readers, it’s more complicated than that. There are advertisers to appease, along with designers and PR people who try to get their products featured in the most desirable light. With so many cooks in the kitchen, perfection probably seems like the easiest way to please everyone involved. And so we have a beautiful, thin model with clear skin and nice teeth who makes clothes look good, whose looks suggest that she uses the right products on her skin and whose body seems to demonstrate what proper exercise can do for you. But the models pictured next to magazine articles usually don’t do what the accompanying text suggests to readers, whether that’s eat right or use a particular face wash, and readers aren’t seeing themselves in her anymore — or maybe they never did but before they wanted to be like her. It seems our attitudes have changed.
When I look at Vogue, Elle, or any other fashion or women’s interest magazine, I see pages with beautiful people wearing lovely clothes, but I can’t always see how they fit into my life. Often, I don’t even imagine myself in a cheaper version of what’s pictured. Even women who follow exercise plans espoused on glossy pages don’t always end up resembling the models who demonstrate the routines. But there are so many different “me” types to please. A magazine’s readership can’t be comprised of millions who are exactly the same. How can editors make everyone happy (or at least happier)?
Now that Leive and other magazine editors have seen how natural-looking women with more realistic bodies strike more of a chord with readers than perfection, perhaps we’ll see more of ourselves in magazines. But remember, an issue can’t be filled with women who have bodies just like yours; that would leave out whole groups of readers with other body types. Magazines don’t have to become home to only plus-size models and skin with wrinkles. All we can ask for is a little diversity. [Glamour]