Like Glamour, Marie Claire has decided it needs to offer more content geared toward plus-size readers. In the November issue, the magazine introduces Ashley Falcon, a size-18 stylist who will be doling out fashion advice in a new column.
In the issue, she shares a little about her experiences working in fashion despite not being able to fit into sample sizes, offering thoughts like, “I long ago made peace with the fact that I’ll never look good in a slinky dress or pleated paper-bag-waist pants, even if Coco Chanel herself came back from the dead and hand-stitched them for me,” and “Big girls love accessories — they always fit, no size tags required.” She also tackles jeans-shopping for women with fuller figures, giving her top three picks for pairs that flatter. Next up, she hunts down cocktail-chic clothes “for all sizes” for the holiday season.According to a National Center for Health Statistics 2006 report, two-thirds of Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese. I understand plus-size does not mean overweight, but the statistic provides a snapshot of our country that many magazines, fashion-related ones especially, likely don’t consider. Devoting two pages entirely to plus-size women seems minor, given this information. Maybe there should be more content for overweight women in magazines if they make up such a large part of the U.S. population?
I respect Ashley immensely for giving out her height and weight in a national magazine, especially since the CDC’s healthy weight BMI calculator puts her in the obese category. While I think Ashley looks great in the photos the magazine printed of her — she wears her clothes well and uses her style chops to pick the most flattering options possible — I can’t help but think about her health. Being confident in yourself and your body is one thing, but being healthy, whatever your size, is more important. BMI certainly isn’t everything. If we took most models’ heights and weights and calculated their body mass index, we’d find they are all considered underweight. So where does this leave us? Confused.
I’m not sure whether Marie Claire will ever address these health issues in a style column. Maybe the magazine assumes readers can get this type of information in other parts of the magazine. But this might be something to consider as Marie Claire and other magazines change their content to reflect society. Yes, plus-size women need stories about where they can find stylish clothes, but shouldn’t there be size-specific exercise and nutrition advice, too?