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The Invisible Big Girl | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Invisible Big Girl

A good friend of mine recently brought my attention to an article in the NY Times…which I promptly didn’t get around to sharing for way too long. This morning I was reminded that I hadn’t used it yet, which was one of those horrible Homer Simpson moments in my life. No, really, I turned yellow with a 5 o’clock shadow and a pocket protector. This was not pretty. The pocket protector was by far the worst aspect.

Once I’d regained my more standard whiter shade of pale, I remembered to use my good intentions and talk about the July issue of Italian Vogue.

While most fashion models don’t look like me in that they are tall and…well…lots of things I’m just not, there is one way in which the vast majority of working models do look like me: they are white. Looking through the average fashion magazine, one sees few women of color. I’m not the only one who notices this fact.

Steven Meisel is one of the top fashion photographers today. He’s the sort of photographer who has the power to do as he pleases and the moxie to choose to do something considered daring in the fashion world: he has chosen all black models for the July issue of Italian Vogue.

This makes me happy. I would love to see the fashion world become more diverse, more welcoming to those outside the beauty ‘norm’ of the industry. Hell, I’d love to see an all Asian or all Latina issue of a mainstream fashion magazine…and then I’d love to see these women on the pages of the magazines when it’s not a stunt issue. I’d be thrilled to open up a magazine and see faces of every color of the rainbow looking back at me, being beautiful and well-groomed and superfantastic.

Meisel has chosen a gorgeous lineup for his issue, too. Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks (yes, in the same issue of the same magazine and not apparently harming one another in any way), Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek…and the list goes on. But he only had trouble getting one model approved for the pages by editor Franca Sozzani: Toccara Jones.

That’s right, Toccara who competed on America’s Next Top Model. What was the beef? Is she not pretty? Yes, she is. Is she not photogenic? Yes, she is. Is she not a working model? Yes, she is. But she is one more thing: she is fat.

Actually, she’s not even what I’d call fat, but according to industry standards, she’s elephantine.

That’s the other sort of face I’d like to see looking out at me from magazines, the one that matches mine no matter the color and configuration of features. We’d all like to see ourselves looking out from those pages, or at least someone we could be.

Mr. Meisel was clearly perplexed by the difficulties he encountered in casting Ms. Jones:

“I wanted to say something about weight, and I’m never allowed to do that,” he said. “I met Toccara and thought, she’s beautiful. What’s the deal with her? She’s great and she’s sexy.”

In the end, he did get his way. Toccara Jones was cast and photographed for the magazine. I’m thrilled about that.

And Mr. Meisel? If you ever shoot an all-fat issue of a fashion magazine, I will definitely buy a copy.

We Big Girls are legion, and we are awesome, and we are beautiful, and we would like to be seen, too.

8 Responses to “The Invisible Big Girl”

  1. class-factotum July 19, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    If she’s fat, then I might as well render myself for lard for the Crisco company.

  2. Twistie July 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, Class-factotum. She just looks well-proportioned to me.

    But I’m not going to offer myself to Crisco, since it’s vegetable-based and I’m not. Also, I’m phasing it out of my kitchen. I mostly use it to grease cake pans these days…and when I run out of my last can, it’s butter all the way, baby.

    If I’m not using it, I have no intention of being it.

  3. Veronica July 20, 2008 at 3:47 am #

    I am going out to but Italian Vogue right now.

  4. Alyssa July 21, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Picked up that Italian Vogue this weekend and loved it. The funniest thing? My size-6 friend was leafing through it with me and gushed, “she is stunning – OMG! I want everything she’s wearing..although it wouldn’t looks as good on me..” ANd I thought – who are these people that think that a bigger girl won’t sell clothes?

  5. Anastasia July 21, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    Just shows that Vogue etc. are just as far away from real women as Playboy is.
    I’d really like to see a fashion mag with women of all colors, sizes and ages.
    Not only is seeing the same stick insect thin 20 year old caucasian models over and over again quite boring, it’s also nothing to aspire to – it’s some ultimate fantasy, like the Playboy bunnies.
    Fashion (and fashion magazines) should be about beautiful clothes that make you beautiful, not about adapting to a current body type that is unattainable for most of us. Fashion should adapt to my body, not vice versa.

  6. gina July 21, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    i had to phone new york to get a copy of this magazine (the south is far too pedestrian to bother with carrying anything but domestic mags, natch), but seeing beauty that reflects me is totally worth the time and trouble (and the $20 pricetag and $10 shipping!). It just drives home just how silly it is for me to peruse Lucky and instyle magazine every month: the clothes are outlandishly expensive, and even if i could afford them, I certainly couldn’t fit into them! (let’s not get into the hair sections I routinely have to pass over) . I think finally it’s time to let my subscriptions lapse (and I wasn’t really getting that much money from luckymagrewards anyway).

    Man, i miss MODE magazine. now *there’s* a magazine worth reviving.

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