Featuring gorgeous women is great, labeling their body types is not okay

Sports Illustrated announced it will run ad featuring “plus-sized” model Ashley Graham

More stories from Taylor Stuck

Let the bandwagon go
December 3, 2014
November 19, 2014

While the rest of the country was cheering Feb. 5, I sat grumbling at my computer screen.

Sports Illustrated had announced it would be running an ad featuring plus-sized model Ashley Graham in its annual swimsuit edition.

Graham, a beautiful dark-haired woman with an all-around gorgeous body, will be modeling a line of swimsuits for an online retailer with the tagline “You’ve Got It. Flaunt It.” It’s a Swim Sexy line for women sizes 10-34.

The next day, I sat at my computer, still grumbling. “Here’s the REAL first ‘Sports Illustrated’ plus-sized model,” the USA Today headline read. The story was about Robin Lawley, a model who will be in the magazine, not just in an ad.

I’ve been grumbling ever since. Not because I think “plus-sized” women shouldn’t be in the swimsuit edition.

I’m grumbling because I’m supposed to stand up and cheer that the magazine is featuring average women, which we label as “plus-sized.”

Graham is a size 16. Lawley is a size 12. The average American woman is a size 14.

Is it nice to open a magazine and find a beautiful woman whose body-type is similar to mine? Why, of course. Both Graham and Lawley are great examples of body types for me to strive for in my journey for a healthier me. They have full breasts, hips that don’t lie and stomachs.

My issue is their label. I’ve always found fault in plus-sized, mainly because I myself would be labeled as such, if I were a model.

As a young girl watching “America’s Next Top Model,” I knew I would never reach the beauty standards to be a model. I am nowhere near tall enough, even to be on the short girl season of AMTM.  I also realized I was never going to be the right size. I accepted that and crossed “model” off my list of future careers.

While the labels classify models, those ideas slip into the lives of everyday women.”

— Taylor Stuck

The label of plus-sized, however, still haunted me. I’m confident in my appearance today, but it still sticks in the back of your mind.

“You are not normal,” a part of my mind whispers.

While the labels classify models, those ideas slip into the lives of everyday women. It’s confusing when we celebrate average women breaking onto the scene. Both women are quoted by news sources saying they want all women to be comfortable in their bodies. So, these women become champions for the average women. They are average women who are classified as not normal.

Let that sink in, because it is confusing. The average, or a normal woman, is not normal.

So, that’s why I am not celebrating. I’m happy for the two beautiful women, both of whom make great role models for all women. But I will continue to grumble until the day they are considered women without the preceding adjective attached to their names.

Taylor Stuck can be contacted at [email protected]