Sports Illustrated is notorious for its Swimsuit Issue and Calendar, featuring scantily-clad, gorgeous, skinny models. Targeted at men across the nation, the magazine has come to epitomize what men think is sexy and desirable and what is the ideal body type. This has traditionally been thin, airbrushed women looking unlike anyone in your biology 8 AM or the girls on your dorm floor. However, the 2015 Swimsuit Issue featured two refreshing surprises.
She’s even wearing a swimsuit that she designed as part of her swimwear line.
This is so important and refreshing because these normal-sized women are being publicly recognized as sexy. In addition, the recognition is coming from a popular and well-known media outlet. In today’s culture, women are constantly being held to beauty standards and pressured to reach perfection as defined by society. Typical models found in popular magazines, advertisements, and catalogs are approximately 5’8” or taller, weighing around 120 pounds, ranging from size 0-6. Yet the average American woman is 5’4,” weighing between 140-150, and ranging from size 12-14. Women presented as ideal beauties vary greatly from the norm, setting impossible standards for the ordinary individual. Perfection is presented as the goal for all women, yet such perfection is impossible. Flaws and individuality make each person their own unique beautiful. Being as thin as possible does not necessarily equate to being perfect. We all must remember to embrace our bodies and understand that all shapes and sizes are attractive.
Both Graham and Lawley are role models for generations of women to come. They have broken the standards set by the fashion industry and the media. They are part of a fashion movement focusing on the recognition of health rather than smaller measurements. Graham understands the importance of her job: “We need role models for young girls who say, ‘embrace your curves’. Who cares that your body isn’t perfect?’”
Neither Ashley Graham or Robyn Lawley are that large. Plus-size does not seem to be an adequate way of describing these beautiful, healthy women, yet they have been labeled as such because they are larger than what the modeling industry considers normal. “I don’t know if I consider myself as a plus-size model or not. I just consider myself a model because I’m trying to help women in general accept their bodies,” says Lawley. Hopefully someday, the term plus-size will no longer exist. As the fashion and modeling industries are incorporating women of all shapes and sizes, we hope the pressure to be thin will change to the want to be healthy.
February 22-28 was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, an even bigger reminder that we must embrace our shape and our body. Body image problems have plagued our generation as models walk down the runway with visible ribs and celebrity photoshoots are retouched beyond recognition. We are forever being reminded that our bodies are not good enough. But they are. Our bodies are strong and beautiful and the most important thing to remember is that being healthy is the most beautiful of all.
Putting on my size 8 jeans shouldn’t make me feel bad about my body, and weighing over 120 pounds shouldn’t have you rushing to the treadmill. It’s time to embrace this trend toward more realistic women in the media. We applaud these ladies for showing the world that beauty equals all sizes.
Rejoice your bodies, Collegiettes!