Do Women Really Want To See Themselves In Fashion Magazines?

While Glamour editor Cindi Leive swears that her magazine will strive to feature women of all sizes, following the praise they received after featuring model Lizzie Miller, Times of London writer India Knight remains unconvinced.

Knight argues that the celebration that accompanied Miller's photograph will ultimately be fleeting, as women, she believes, don't want to see Lizzie Millers on every single page. "The reason magazines are crammed full of the super-skinny is that women, despite what they may say in public, like the fact that the £2,000 dress is being modelled by someone who's 14 and a size 4," Knight writes, arguing that the artifice of fashion is the draw: women are pulled into a seemingly unattainable image, and enjoy looking at fashion spreads simply because they don't reflect real life. The model is so perfect, Knight writes, that women are able to distance themselves from her: I will never look like that, and that's okay, the reader thinks, because, well, nobody looks like that.

"Add an iota of reality - a size 16 model, say - and the whole thing falls apart," Knight writes, "It's no longer bliss to look at. The average British woman is a size 16; now she's looking at the picture and thinking: 'I don't look like that. Why don't I look like that? She doesn't have cellulite. Why do I? Where's her double chin? She's so pretty. I'm not.' It's not fun: now the reader feels bad, cross, plain. She's technically a bit like the girl in the picture, but miles away in reality." I saw this happening in the comments on the piece we ran on Lizzie Miller: "Oh, she's a size 12? Well now I feel bad. I'm a size 12 and I don't look like that," and so on and so forth.

Knight argues that fashion itself has become joyless and cruel: that women are forced to feel bad for not wearing the right thing, even to do something simple like head out to the grocery store. To a certain extent, I agree with her; I think our makeover-crazy culture drills it into people's heads that they need to leave the house in a full face of makeup and their best clothes just to walk the dog or get the mail, but I don't think things are as bleak as Knight makes them out to be.

For the record, I do think women want to see all shapes and sizes represented in fashion magazines: yes, there will still be unattainable images presented (no cellulite, no stretch marks, etc), and I think it's a bit unfair to assume that women only want to see size 4 models in fashion editorials, walking around on the moon or what have you in $8000 gowns. Perhaps women wouldn't find fashion to be as difficult or overwhelming or, as in Knight's case, joyless, if fashion began offering something new for a change. It might be easier for all of us to see ourselves in the clothes if we could actually see ourselves in the pictures, as well.

This Spare Tyre Has Blown Fashion Apart [TimesOnilne]