V Magazine Cover Battle Misleads Plus Size Debate

V Magazine Cover 2010

V Magazine Cover 2010

V magazine just launched a size issue, trying to cash in on the national interest in American plus sized culture. Two covers were released to newsstands across America. One cover was titled “Little Lady” and featured A-list movie star Dakota Fanning. Fanning has been a household name for over 10 years and is best known from her roles in War of the Worlds ($592+ million worldwide gross), Man on Fire ($130+ million worldwide gross) and most recently the Twilight series. The “Big Love” cover featured Gabourey Sidibe, an unknown actress who starred in one limited release movie in 2009: Precious ($40 million to date).

These two competing covers will ultimately become a permanent fixture of the size-versus-beauty dialogue in America. It’s hard to understand why an unknown actress, so far from the shape of a working plus sized model was used on the V Magazine Cover. There are a number of other full-figured celebrities with more star power to better match Dakota Fanning.  For example: America Ferrera of the Ugly Betty Series and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Raven Symoné, Jordan Sparks, Kelly Clarkson, Queen Latifah and Crystal Renn, the most famous plus sized model in America. Additionally, big hair and lumpy clothing hid Fanning’s size zero frame, while the photographer chose to zoom in on Sidibe’s neck fat.

Does V Magazine want the “Big Love” cover to fail? Is this V Magazine’s social commentary on their distaste for all plus sized models in high fashion?  The Big Love cover instantly reminded me of Velvet D’Amour in 2006. D’Amour walked the runway in Paris for Jean-Paul Gaultier wearing unflattering lingerie. She was considerably older then the other models, a size 28 and 300 pounds – dramatically out of size range for working plus sized models that are a size 12 and weigh less then 170 pounds. I believe it was Gaultier’s response to Europe’s trend to eliminate dramatically thin models from the runway. D’Amour’s famed walk in Paris had many interpretations but I think it was the fashion industry’s way of saying “What would you have us use, obese housewives?”

Jacquelyn on the left Crystal on the right

The real question posed by the ‘Size Issue’ in V Magazine was finally addressed via the editorial with Crystal Renn and Jacquelyn Joablonski. They were photographed wearing the exact same clothing, posing in the exact same manner. This illustrated the REAL question “can we accept true plus sized models in the fashion culture?” The comments I have received from peers about this side-by-side editorial is that Renn looks fabulous – and so does Joablonski. There is room for both, and standards should be kept for plus sized models, just as they are kept for straight sized models.

V Magazine Crystal Renn Size Issue

V Magazine Crystal Renn Size Issue

I was involved in a similar social experiment in June of 2007. The Seattle Times, the biggest newspaper in the State of Washington did a “Size Issue” in the Gender “F” special section. They also released two covers with two different questions: “I Think I’m sexy. Do you?”  and “I Think I am Fat. Do you?” The people of Seattle were asked to vote.

Chandra Chase Seattle Times Size Issue

Chandra Chase Seattle Times Size Issue

The voting has since been disabled but the article states that 58% of people agree that I was sexy and 56% agreed that I was Fat. And the article further says “many readers suggested that fat and sexy aren’t mutually exclusive, and the model, Chandra Chase, projected confidence that contributed to her allure… There’s nothing more sexy in a woman (or a man) than self confidence… And it looks to me that this woman has it!”

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7 Responses

  1. Nice read! Do you have the article of this Seattle article? I would love to read it! Thanks for the love!

  2. As much as I can understand right now, I think you’re right!

  3. Nice article! I totally agree. The only thing that bugs me about the article is that Crystal has her head turned to the side in the same way in every shot, rather than mimicing Jacquelyn’s more confident head-on gazes. I would’ve liked to see her look more assertive, like, “yeah, I’m dead sexy, you and I both know it!”

  4. I see a great improvement in your writing, I’d love to get in touch. Keep up the great work! Your writing is very inspirational for someone who is new to this type of stuff.

  5. If you want another take on the Crystal/Jacquelyn shoot, read this:
    http://curvesmart.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Business%20of%20Being%20Crystal

    That point you made in another post about girls in fat suits…it’s getting out of control these days….

  6. Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

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