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Is Advertising Finally Accepting All Body Types?

Posted on the 10 February 2015 by Jamiedunham @jdunham

IMG_1286There is always a Nashville connection.  This week Sports Illustrated has taken over downtown Nashville for its first bash in honor of its America the Beautiful 2015 swimsuit issue.  At the same time, the magazine is also making news for including a so-called plus-size model in a swimsuit and a true plus-size model in an ad in this year’s edition.

Is advertising finally accepting that the average size of an American women is 12-14?

The models shown on the runway and in magazines like Sports Illustrated represent less than 5% of women in the US. A traditional sample size used on the runway and in magazines is a 0-2. Even famous actresses know that to snag a couture gown for the Oscar runway, you have to be a size 2.

I have never bought a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue before, but I had to see this one. The debut of the Sports Illustrated model Robyn Lawley was hailed as historic – the first time in history a model beyond a traditional sample size has appeared in the swimsuit issue.

IMG_1284
So here’s the scoop. In the 220-page magazine, there are three pictures of Robyn Lawley, a size 12. That’s a size 12 spread over 6 feet, 2 inches, not the average 5 foot, 4 inch woman. Thankfully, neither Sports Illustrated or Robyn uses the term “plus size”, because she is clearly not plus size. Robyn likes “curvy”, and says she is interested in seeing a variety of sizes of women in ads. She said that the exposure is “a step in the right direction.”

But the real story is Ashley Graham, the SwimsuitsForAll model, featured in a two-page spread in the magazine. Ashley is termed a larger-than-average model. She is a 5’ 9”, size 16 and has been featured in Vogue and Glamour. Graham says “the world is ready for more curves in bikinis.” Ashley actively campaigns for women to embrace their bodies no matter what the shape, and has helped found ALDA, a coalition of models promoting a healthy body image for women.

It seems that there is a positive movement to represent more average size women. Calvin Klein recently chose a size 10 model to appear in that company’s underwear ads. And in January, Target launched a plus-size clothing line, Ava & Viv, selecting three plus-size bloggers to model the campaign.

“I really hope this opens up doors for not just skinny girls with big boobs, but for girls with big hips and thighs,” says Graham, “That’s what we have in America.

Let’s say hooray for body positive messages like Graham and Meghan Trainor’s hit song “It’s All About That Bass.” Wake up Victoria Secret. There is life beyond size 2.

Oh, by the way, I would show you the cover, but there is nothing average or real about it.


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