Scott "The Sartorialist" Schuman snapped these two photos of Milan-based fashion blogger Angelica Ardasheva. Schuman called Ardasheva "a bigger, curvier girl than most of the other bloggers who you see in the press," and remarked that "[t]he subtle thing she achieves so successfully in these two looks is to complement the sturdy but beautiful shape of her legs with an equally strong shoe."
Commenters on Schuman's site — rarely a tough audience — immediately took issue with Schuman's choice to comment on Ardasheva's body:
I am not sure what you mean when you say that she's curvier that other bloggers. Bloggers come in all sizes and shapes. So why separate her because of her "curviness"?
Why even mention her figure — surely it doesn't make a jot of difference to her ability to put together an eyecatching look?
I do appreciate your featuring a woman who is a centimeter or two larger in her measurements than the usual girls you photograph. But I'm a little horrified by the fact that you are referring to her as if she is plus size.
I don't appreciate her weight being the focus of your post.
Forget all the extra adjectives. Yes, she's pretty and yes, she understands the importance of proportions. (Only antique mahogany furnishings should be commented on for sturdiness).
Your patronising comments on her style, calling her 'bigger', 'curvier' and back handed compliment on her dress sense just serve to further alienate readers who are not a sample size, which I would assume is the larger portion of your audience.
I find it sad that this woman is not only bigger and curvier than most women you see in the fashion world — she's also probably the biggest and curviest woman who will ever be featured on this blog. I know there aren't many plus-size women who are making it as models, but there are plenty out on the street — why don't you ever photograph them?
regardless of her size, i find it unnecessary for you to comment on it. i have never seen you address how some tiny little waif did a kick-ass job of camouflaging her protruding clavicles.
She is pretty, she is stylish, she makes a good photo. Why comment at all? And why on her size?
I don't really see the need to mention her figure. Mention how we can visit her blog, surely that's more important?
(Schuman did not link to Ardasheva's blog or identify her by her full name; her blog is here.) Schuman's post about Ardasheva currently has 1,067 comments, the vast majority of which are along the lines of those above. The post with the next-highest number of comments on The Sartorialist homepage right now has 216.
Schuman updated his post, writing that he is glad that this has "create[d] a real and important conversation" but that it is disappointing when posts are "hijacked" by "political correctness." He defended what he wrote, saying that "A number of the commenters are upset by the word 'curvy.' They feel I should have used the word 'normal.' However, normal is relative."
Regarding the curves...just because you don't see them does not mean they are not there. Is there a minimum degree of curviness to be considered "curvy"?
Remember, curvy is a body shape, not a weight. To be honest, you can't really see in these photographs most of the curves - chest, stomach, hip - this woman has.
[...]So help me understand; what is the modern way to speak about size? I'm not married to the word curvy. I'm just trying to describe her in the best way I know how. Let's not hide from this issue; I don't want to be afraid to talk about it on my blog. Help me describe this young lady without using the word "normal," but in a way that addresses her body size and still references my point about the size of her legs relative to her shoes.
Last week I did a post of older women every day, and I was proud of that. I am proud to be a blog that is showing women of different sizes. I want to not be losing the potential power of the post by being caught up in wordplay.
This response seems somewhat wide of the mark; Schuman is defending his choice of language ("curvier," "bigger," "sturdy but beautiful") rather than his choice to comment on Ardasheva's body at all. The problem isn't the words he or anyone else might use to describe a woman's body, the problem is that women's bodies are (thanks in large part to the fashion world and its incredibly restrictive norms) widely considered appropriate subjects for public critique and commentary at all. Schuman, ostensibly a style blogger, mentions Ardasheva's size well before even turning his attention to her outfit — and even then, he considers her outfit only in relation to her body.
This is distinct from the treatment that most of Schuman's other subjects get: usually, if he captions a photo at all, it is to offer a brief observation about the garment or accessory that drew his eye. ("I love the colors - Red, Purple, Forest Green. Looks like this make all black seem so boring." Or: "This woman was such a vision in her monochrome look. Her sole splash of color - a vintage red Hermes Kelly bag.")
Ardasheva herself says she is fine with what Schuman wrote. "[I]t's incredible, you cannot imagine how I feel ecxited for being on The Sartorialist," she wrote on her blog this morning. When Schuman approached and asked to take her picture, "because of the emotion and my bad english i didn't understand a lot." But: "Obviously I accepted with a 36-teeth smile (or how many are they?32?)."
[A]bout the controversy on his blog because of words like "curvy"or"big" udes by him to definy my body,i just can say that i never felt hurt.i think i have a normal body neither fat nor thin,curvy is ok,of course my body was pretty different fro the other girls where around there,wheter they are models,editors,bloggers of whatever,I was taller and more...curvy! but I did not mind at all.
On The Street...Angelika, Milan [The Sartorialist]
The Sartorialist — On The Street, Angelica, Milan — Me! [Angy's Tea Room]