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A model commits suicide the other night
July 25, 2001 5:28 PM   Subscribe

A model commits suicide the other night but what's really tragic about this is this is what is considered "plus sized" these days. Aren't the days of 80lb, heroin-chic models over?
posted by mathowie (81 comments total)

 
If that's plus-size, I'm a fucking leprechaun. What the hell is wrong with people?

And what a bizarre way to go...slashing one's own throat?

Very sad...
posted by solistrato at 5:38 PM on July 25, 2001


All those reports really just pound the "plus sized" factor in don't they?

looking thru the other plus sized models...so...that is the category they use to describe models who actually have real human bodies rather than looking like they are about to fall over?

i could go into a big rant about the media and its effect on the negative-body-image that most women have, but i won't, its time to go home. Just try to name more than a few big name models that aren't super skinny, its a short list.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:57 PM on July 25, 2001


Slashing her own throat rather than some more peaceful means of suicide likely indicates very deep self-loathing.
She didn't merely want the pain to stop, she wanted to make a statement.
The pressure she was under was probably incredible.
posted by dong_resin at 5:57 PM on July 25, 2001


it's a shame. she was nice looking too. though the comments here seem to assume her suicide was probably linked to her being "plus-sized" when the article suggests otherwise:

``She said she was having some problems with some guy she'd been seeing, some kick-boxing instructor,'' Duncan's brother Alec told the New York Post.
posted by moz at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2001


it's that damned weed she was addicted to.
posted by jcterminal at 6:15 PM on July 25, 2001


Not only that, but when someone commits suicide, unless there is some traumatic event, there is usually not ONE trigger or even a handful of issues that lead to it.

There usually is one issue though (again, except in the case traumatic induction): severe self-image problems and/or depression. Okay yeah so that's two, but they can be cause and effect...

The media of course, always has to drive towards depth in singularity, which usually make people into mere caricatures. Very very sad statement.

By the way, if that's plus-sized, I'm definitely a plus-sized kinda guy. :-)
posted by fooljay at 6:20 PM on July 25, 2001


What kills me is that I don't know anyone- not anyone- who thinks the waif model look was ever attractive, or who would for one second consider these women "plus-sized". Quite to the contrary, these so-called "plus sized" models are what most every guy I know, myself included, would consider a perfectly healthy and stunningly attractive woman.

My own pet belief is that the fashion industry has a certain undertone of misogyny in it that encourages these sadistic and unrealistic visions of what women are "supposed" to look like, and that the impetus is certainly not coming from men but perhaps from the echo chamber world of the fashionistas...
posted by hincandenza at 6:21 PM on July 25, 2001



TWENTY-SEVEN INCH WAIST? She was "plus-sized" with a TWENTY-SEVEN INCH WAIST? There isn't a trace of fat on her limbs.

It appears that "plus-sized" means "really thin but not emaciated".

Emme Alt's story is genuinely frightening, but I'm not sure how much of it is on the redesigned site.
posted by galachef55 at 6:27 PM on July 25, 2001


She doesn't come close to plus size in my ratings. Healthy looking, yes, plus, no way.
What a shame. She should have just quit and walked away and done whatever made her content.
She'll be forgotten all too soon and some other up and coming hopeful will take her place.
posted by a3matrix at 6:27 PM on July 25, 2001


In the world of high fashion models, she is "heavy" though of course in real life she is just right...but if high fashion stuff is way off the mark, why is it , well, so fashionable and accepted by those who are in the business and know that the babes who buy and wear the clothes are at best more like this sad girl than the super thins that model?
In fact, there are so many young women these days too heavy that this young lady seems by comparison thin. RIP.
posted by Postroad at 6:33 PM on July 25, 2001


Plus-sized? YUMMY-sized/perfect. Especially given how photos distort. I suspect the only people who don't find that "caliber" of woman attractive are other women who have been brainwashed by the media. WTF....?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:36 PM on July 25, 2001


Fat bottomed girls
You make the rockin' world go round
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:39 PM on July 25, 2001


As far as I know, one of the effect of weed is an amplification of sensation..which means, if you're happy you'll be more happy, if you're sad you'll become more sad.
That probably works at inconscious level too, so maybe she was, like one kaziollion top models here, all smiles on the outside but troubled inside or pressured to lose more weight.

Yet I hardly can believe she stabbed herself several time in the throat..and wasn't there a roommate with her, in the same apartment ? No suicide note ? Suspicious.

And what does plus-size means ? More fat around the bones ? Or does that refer to cup size ?

Personally, I think that girls don't need to be thin as toothpicks to be attractive ; that's surely a "sizes" part that attracts men and that's natural, but I appreciate self-confidence (which prevents a girl from losing weight just because she wants to look stunningly beautiful) more
then a model-like body.
posted by elpapacito at 6:42 PM on July 25, 2001


Uh, her card says she had a 28.5–inch waist, not 27. Maybe it's just living and dating in New York, and I know this says more about me than her, but she looks big to me — absolutely gorgeous, but big.

As to her psychological condition: I took a look at the Wilhemina plus-size models' page on which she appears, out of curiosity as to whether she was larger or smaller than the women against whom she might judge herself; is it strange only to me that of the 75 women listed there, she is the only one whose bust and waist are given, rather than just her dress size?
posted by nicwolff at 6:58 PM on July 25, 2001


When I first started dating my girlfriend she had this incessant need to diet. She's 5'2" and can't weigh but 85lbs. She could go days without eating! Now I do all the cooking, she eats 2-3 decent meals a day (decent quantity too) and has only managed to gain 5 pounds in a year. My cooking is hardly healthy so I'm at a loss to explain it.
posted by revbrian at 7:04 PM on July 25, 2001


well, i'm plus-sized and was thrilled when mode magazine came out because i was able to find clothes that didn't look like they were designed by some guy who hated his fat mother. when the magazine first came out, the models did reflect actual plus sizes up to a size 26. in the past year, the models have been getting thinner and thinner more like 12's & 14's. the model in question was on the cover a few months ago and i remember thinking, "she's plus-sized"?

i guess what i'm saying is that if i'm looking at a magazine of clothing for plus-sizes, i want to see what different styles will look like on a larger woman and not on a normal one. i don't understand why the industry does this.
posted by centrs at 7:05 PM on July 25, 2001


I don't think you can accuse all thin people of being "heroin chic." I'm a male, and I attract much derision for being 5'9, 113 pounds. Interestingly enough, while it wouldn't be appropriate for me to say, "Do you eat to much?" many people find it O.K. to ask me, "Are you anorexic?" Its almost reverse-discrimination...

On the other hand, my female friend attracts many stares for being 5'8", 120 pounds. Neither of us is anorexic or bulemic... we are just naturally thin.
posted by Ptrin at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2001


my username is hotdoughnutsnow. i am a plus sized metafilter user.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 7:21 PM on July 25, 2001


If anyone's heroin chic, it's that jack saturn kid.
posted by megnut at 7:40 PM on July 25, 2001


mefi: she's not fat
sorry, i'm a brainwashed fool
i prefer kate moss
posted by dogmatic at 7:55 PM on July 25, 2001


"Do you eat to much?"

Wow... they would swallow their own heads :) That is pretty amusing.

As for the model in question, she is plus sized to me. She's a pretty lady but she is not what I consider 'slim' or 'healthy' looking.

There are others who fit this as well. Mariah is a good example of a incredibly attractive woman that I consider kinda large. When she was younger, not at all...now, she is what I would consider a little "soft" or "full figured".

In shape and trim does NOT mean "heroin chic" in most cases - it means exactly what it says... in shape.

Examples are easy to find... Jessica, Britney, Jessica Alba and so on.

These girls are slim, obviously athletic and far, far from heroin poster children.
posted by soulhuntre at 8:16 PM on July 25, 2001


While I wouldn't consider her plus sized, she's big for a model. I can't understand how the clothing companies can be blamed for the thin model phenom, as women are the ones buying the clothes.

It's like all those websites who were catering to the "riot/cybergrrrl" demo but turns out what most women wanted was the usual Redbook/Cosmo diet tips and sex advice...
posted by owillis at 8:18 PM on July 25, 2001


The funny thing is, most girls who ask if I am anorexic later admit to being jealous of my weight. Now, why can't I get any dieting tips on gaining weight?
posted by Ptrin at 8:31 PM on July 25, 2001


Hotdoughnutsnow might be the one to ask, Ptrin.
Not that it matters, but that's easily my favorite user name I've seen
posted by dong_resin at 8:36 PM on July 25, 2001


I have nothing to add to this thread save for the fact that I have always found - and i will use the dumbass, industry word - "plus sized" far more appealing than the waif look.


that being said, I will close with the idea that beauty resides far more in the head than in the body.

Tis a shame for this girl. Let us remember her as a person who tried. Not a "plus size" model who met an untimely death
posted by sardines at 8:38 PM on July 25, 2001


I'm sure that a lot of people told her she was "beautiful, but big for a model" before she committed suicide, just like we keep saying it after the fact.
posted by Hildago at 8:40 PM on July 25, 2001


Yeah Hil,

Your right on that one.

[sigh]
posted by sardines at 8:44 PM on July 25, 2001


I don't think you can accuse all thin people of being "heroin chic." I'm a male, and I attract much derision for being 5'9, 113 pounds. Interestingly enough, while it wouldn't be appropriate for me to say, "Do you eat to much?" many people find it O.K. to ask me, "Are you anorexic?" Its almost reverse-discrimination...

I used to be that skinny myself, and was incessantly getting called skinny by people. I had complete strangers tell me "you are so thin!"

I was quite tempted to respond "You are not just fat, but rude!" but i was far too polite back then. Are there any examples of tooth-gnashing over the comfort people have with being thoughtless to the thin?

Of course, I solved the problem. I got fat.
posted by anildash at 9:37 PM on July 25, 2001


As someone who lives, and dates, in NYC as well, I wouldn't have pegged her as 'oversized.'

She was 5'11", fergawdsake. A 28-inch waist on a nearly-six-footer is, where I'm standing, pretty damned proportional, even for the modeling world. Certainly for her.

We can tut-tut this all we want, but I don't think I've ever known a woman who didn't have some kind of body-image issue. Things like this don't just happen to Wilhelmina models. I wish I had more of an answer.
posted by chicobangs at 9:52 PM on July 25, 2001


"I'd rather die than be as fat as Marilyn."--Elizabeth Hurley, quoted in MODE, June 2001, page 29. Forty years later, the greatest sex icon of her age is regarded as being unacceptably "plus sized."
posted by Rebis at 9:55 PM on July 25, 2001


Is there any evidence to suggest that her suicide was in any way linked to her dress size? Why is this suddenly a forum for some people to pretend Reubens was aiight?

Well, I'm glad to see a few others beat me to the counter-punch, but personally, I think Reubens was a nut.

Size 10 is fine, but so is size 2. Thin does not necessarily mean unhealthy. I appreciate the waifish look - lissome, lithe, girlish, coltish - but I'm not a bigot about it.

Incidents like these tend to bring PC enlightened males out of the woodwork yelling "Zaftig rules!". And female lard worshippers tend to hijack these tragedies for unwholesome vindication.

Fat is not healthy, and fat is not pretty. Sorry, sorry, but...

It really is OK to discourage people from being fat. Some research suggests that we should all be well-nourished but rail-thin, unless expecting a baby or a protracted illness. (Of course, there exists a fat study to suggest just about anything.)

There have been several not-very-double-blind studies that suggest that our ideas of beauty and its opposite might be at least partially hardcoded. I'm not sure we can re-define our notions of physical beauty. But we can discourage AllMightyMedia's tendency to magnify those notions into an intractable bigotry - and to make them seem so bloody important.

I will be available to join the protest as soon as I fall out of love with that girl on the Mitsubishi Eclipse TV ad - the dark-haired goddess who winds up the spot by lip synching "Wind it up, baby". Sorry, I know - she's waifish - sorry...
posted by Opus Dark at 9:59 PM on July 25, 2001


In all this, it should be remembered that to not look fat, or something other than thin, in photography, and especially on television, you need to be VERY thin. Perhaps that's the source of this insanity.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:07 PM on July 25, 2001


Every sizing chart I've found online confirms that a woman with a 28.5 inch waist would wear a size 10. The average American woman is a size 12 -- some stats have also said size 14. Plus-size departments/stores/clothing lines start at a size 14/16.

I think that definitively negates any claim that this woman was plus sized. Maybe that's where Wilhemina and the industry pigeonholed her and those were the clothes she modeled, but that's not what she was.

What she was, clearly, was beautiful and troubled. My heart breaks for her friends and family. The whole story is just tragic.
posted by Dreama at 10:11 PM on July 25, 2001


soulhuntre: The girls you cite as healthy and trim are also... girls. Young women. Britney Spears is 20. Jessica Alba is 20. Jessica Simpson is barely 21. As they get older, they too, like Mariah, will probably get "a little soft" (or maybe get buff like Madonna). But they will probably not have those slim figures throughout their lives.

Very, very few women maintain a teenage-slender frame into adulthood. And the current cultural ideal-- the slim teenage body, plus full breasts-- is basically impossible to achieve unless you won the genetic dice roll or go for plastic surgery.

You can't Stairmaster away your hips. You can only cross your fingers that eventually your type of figure will come into "style" again, so that you don't have to listen to guys say "She's a pretty lady but she is not what I consider 'slim' or 'healthy' looking" just because you don't look like Britney Spears.

Think Natasha Duncan is plus sized? Take a look at Marilyn Monroe. "Plus sized"? "Full figured"? And how. And gorgeous.
posted by Zettai at 10:13 PM on July 25, 2001


D'oh, Rebis was faster on the draw. Teach me to get sidetracked looking at the purty pictures.
posted by Zettai at 10:16 PM on July 25, 2001


when I have a career that keeps me dancing all day instead of sitting in front a computer doing astronomy, then I'll look like britney. (well, I'll need some implants too.)

if mariah carey is big, though, I'm a freakin elephant. and I bike five miles a day, run twenty miles a week, and can bench half my weight.

you can be in great shape without looking like a pop star.
posted by rabi at 10:23 PM on July 25, 2001


Very, very few women maintain a teenage-slender frame into adulthood.

Too bad so many men want girls rather than women--what cluelessness!
posted by ParisParamus at 10:28 PM on July 25, 2001


I'm sure that a lot of people told her she was "beautiful, but big for a model" before she committed suicide, just like we keep saying it after the fact

If that was a problem, maybe she should have chosen another profession?

you don't have to listen to guys say "She's a pretty lady but she is not what I consider 'slim' or 'healthy' looking

Guys go through this too, how many fellows out there look like Brad Pitt or The Rock physically? Not many, I'd guess. But in my experience men are more likely to try and fix themselves, laugh at "the wussy boys" or move on, as opposed to blaming "society".
posted by owillis at 10:31 PM on July 25, 2001


And what does plus-size means ? More fat around the bones ? Or does that refer to cup size ?

Plus size refers to the clothing size, being larger than "normal" sizes. Sizes are based off a combination of average measurements, including bust size. Furthermore, Adult "Female" clothing is typically separated into three main categories:

<lesson type=short>
(1) Juniors. Sizes are odd numbers, most commonly 0 (yes somehow 0 is a valid size) through 11. There are larger sizes, but they are very hard to find in stores. These clothes are often the most fashionable and trendy.

(2) Misses. Sizes are even numbers, most commonly 10-20. There are some smaller and larger sizes, but the latter are especially hard to find in stores. These sizes are rarely as stylish and fun as juniors clothing. If they are, then you've been extremely lucky and found really hard-to-find clothing.

(3) Women's. Sizes are also even numbers, most commonly 12-20, with a W at the end. I think the difference is a little more room given in certain areas. Also not very stylish clothing.
</lesson>

Misses and women's sizes above 10/12 are typically considered "plus", and this happens to be true of girls' clothing as well. Above 12, this clothing is harder to find, except for some specialty shops, and is often about as stylish as the clothes your grandma might wear. (Ok, maybe a little more stylish.) Sometimes just purchasing men's clothing is an easier option.

Children's plus sizing is a whole other issue on top of this. There aren't several divisions, aside from the "plus" sizes, which have gotten such lovely names from department stores like Sears or JCPenney's. "Pretty Plus", "Chubby", and "Husky" are among the labels used by these stores at some time. Typically, these larger clothes are not only more expensive, but are rarely available in the same colors and fashions as "normal" sizes. Nice.


"I'd rather die than be as fat as Marilyn."--Elizabeth Hurley, quoted in MODE, June 2001, page 29. Forty years later, the greatest sex icon of her age is regarded as being unacceptably "plus sized."

Does anyone really like Elizabeth Hurley anyhow? If she wants to be as attractive as a stick, then good for her brainwashed self. "Plus" sized = curvaceous and sexy in my book ;)
posted by valerie at 10:37 PM on July 25, 2001


Rebis: Liz Hurley is just pissed because she knows that no-one will remember her and certainly not as reverentially nearly forty years after her death.

nicwolff: Forgive my error.

TWENTY-EIGHT POINT FIVE INCH WAIST? She was "plus-sized" with a TWENTY-EIGHT POINT FIVE INCH WAIST?
posted by galachef55 at 10:49 PM on July 25, 2001


If she's considered "plus-sized", I don't wanna know what they'd call what I'm wearing. Lemniscate-sized, maybe.
posted by youhas at 11:40 PM on July 25, 2001


Just try to name more than a few big name models that aren't super skinny, its a short list.
One doesn't advertise something that most people already have. It must be an extreme. The waif-look is odd and interesting.
posted by holloway at 12:17 AM on July 26, 2001


arrgh that's terrible.
I'm have moreorless her dimensions. I'm currently in Paris and feeling freaken huge. Don't know if the modelling business is catering to an international audience, but it sure seems the women are on average smaller here than in North America (and I mean height as well).
posted by spandex at 12:52 AM on July 26, 2001


>>...it sure seems the women are on average smaller here than in North America

one reason: americans consume more hormone-treated animal products
posted by johnb at 1:12 AM on July 26, 2001


Same thing, spandex - the women here in Paris are rail thin and dressed to kill, up to about the age of 50 on average. I'm a healthy size 6, so smaller than the average American, but feel huge here and completely out of fashion. Plus, I'm short but refuse to wear the painful high heel shoes all the ladies here wear every day - often even to ride bicycles.
What makes me sad is the amount of time and energy I spend worrying about my appearance. I mean, a person can only ponder so many things in one day, and if I'm spending an hour or two thinking of how fat I am or what the hell I'm going to wear, when am I supposed to think about my novel or going back to school? I try so hard to push this stuff out of my head but - it just won't go.
I definitely think this stuff is mostly propagated by women against women. On the metro every morning the stares from women are the most intense as everyone is checking each others outfits and looking at the men to see who they're checking out, then giving her a cold stare. Then there are the magazines and advertisements all around you with the half-naked smooth-skinned fourteen year olds on the cover, with articles on what to do about your skin and hair and clothes.
I try my best to ignore this stuff. And really and honestly, I think I pay less attention than most women. But it's so insidious - it gets to you. I don't have one woman friend who doesn't care much, deep down, about her appearance. And my friends are active, caring, successful, many working for non-profits, doing important things with their lives. But still there's this underlying insecurity, worrying about something as meaningless as looks...and not to even mention aging.
So how are we supposed to escape from this? How can we just turn it off? I would really like to know.
posted by hazyjane at 1:36 AM on July 26, 2001


I can't comment on the woman's suicide, and won't personally armchair psychologize what was going on. Things are usually more complex than they seem. I suppose this will be another story which is folks talk about instead of Missle Defense, or Stem-Cell Research, or Genoa's Riots.

But sexy and heavy I like to think I understand. I don't think we're truly hardcoded for a certain physicality. I think it varies person to person, culture to culture. This is why some folks dig a Kate Moss type, and some dig an Anna Nicole Smith type. Or both. Or somewhere in-between.

zaftig: the case for curves is a nifty book which chronicles more well-rounded women in art and culture. Worth a browse or a purchase at your local bookstore, if not at Amazon.
posted by artlung at 1:41 AM on July 26, 2001


"I will be available to join the protest as soon as I fall out of love with that girl on the Mitsubishi Eclipse TV ad - the dark-haired goddess who winds up the spot by lip synching "Wind it up, baby". Sorry, I know - she's waifish - sorry..."

God... she is amazing isn't she? Those lips... *sigh*

"There have been several not-very-double-blind studies that suggest that our ideas of beauty and its opposite might be at least partially hardcoded."

Very true. it is looking more and more like the idea of "beauty" is not socially defined - that many features involved in beauty are related to indicators of health and fertility.

In other words, social beauty standards are a secondary issue.

"Every sizing chart I've found online confirms that a woman with a 28.5 inch waist would wear a size 10."

It takes more than a waist size to figure out a dress size.

"The girls you cite as healthy and trim are also... girls. Young women. Britney Spears is 20. Jessica Alba is 20. Jessica Simpson is barely 21. As they get older, they too, like Mariah, will probably get "a little soft" (or maybe get buff like Madonna). But they will probably not have those slim figures throughout their lives."

This may be true - but then it is a matter of (to me) obvious reality that females probably peak health and fitness wise in their early 20's all other things being equal (obviously lifestyle and so on is a crucial aspect).

My point was that it IS possible to be trim and healthy and not be a waif.

Beauty is NOT (to me) something that all or most people will posses... like a talented olympic athlete it is a rare thing - but that doesn't mean I should pretend that that body type isn't what I (and many others) prefer simply because it is rare.

"Take a look at Marilyn Monroe. "Plus sized"? "Full figured"?"

Marilyn was pretty to be sure - but I don't find her terribly attractive on physical traits alone. She is a bit chunky for me though the raw outline trips some of my "hard wired" happy centers.

She is damn sexy, but a lot of that is attitude... a pretty useful component as well.

"so that you don't have to listen to guys say "She's a pretty lady but she is not what I consider 'slim' or 'healthy' looking" just because you don't look like Britney Spears."

Then don't listen. Become secure in yourself and don't worry about it. But the path to self esteem does not come through self delusion.

Simply realize that 99% of the females in the world are not knockouts, and that only .1% of them are the lucky genetic winners to be superstar beauties and get on with your life.

"Too bad so many men want girls rather than women--what cluelessness!"

That's a broad statement in several ways - but I'll simply say this. There are some (not millions, but some) intelligent females with dynamite bodies (in the pop star way) out there - and there isn't a damn thing wrong with wanting one.

In other words, I don't consider it "foolish" to want it all and be willing to work to get it.

"you can be in great shape without looking like a pop star."

True. But then again, you can be in great shape AND look like a pop star too :)
posted by soulhuntre at 2:00 AM on July 26, 2001


Every sizing chart I've found online confirms that a woman with a 28.5 inch waist would wear a size 10. The average American woman is a size 12 -- some stats have also said size 14. Plus-size departments/stores/clothing lines start at a size 14/16.

This is a sad comment on the state of American health. No wonder Time magazine did an article titled "Girth of a Nation" a few years ago.
posted by dogmatic at 4:50 AM on July 26, 2001


The standard argument trotted out over the physical dimensions of female models is that most catwalk designers are gay men. Make of that what you will.

I can't help thinking that the whole model deal is enough to fuck with any young woman's head: particularly the formalised culture of exploitation that exists in the agencies, starting with 14-15 year-old girls.
posted by holgate at 5:01 AM on July 26, 2001


Nonononono, Opus Dark: It really is OK to discourage people from being fat... and then dogmatic, too: This is a sad comment on the state of American health. Geez!


No. No. If that's the case, then it's also just as OK to discourage people from being thin, and it's also just as OK to say that all thin people are sick and disgusting and diseased. Many of the same things are said about fat people. Fat can be healthy and trust me, there are legions of people who think fat is pretty. Don't thrust your opinions on others. And dogmatic, a large waist size doesn't automatically mean unhealthy!

That said.

I read about Duncan a few days ago and one of my reactions was similar: "That's plus-sized?" But a look at almost any catalog or magazine devoted to plus-sized women will show you that most of them wouldn't dare really show a woman over a size 16, even though they purport to support a wider range of plus sizes. Why? Magazines claim it's because readers don't want to see anyone larger. I don't understand it; I just mention it.

Duncan is plus-sized only in the modeling world. In reality, she's normally sized. If you believe she's fat, or overweight, or what-have-you, there's a very good chance that you've bought in to all of the media images and stereotypes.
posted by hijinx at 5:11 AM on July 26, 2001


this is absolutely sick, for sure... my boyfriend, who is a photographer, shoots a lot of 'plus-sized' models... they're his favorites, because he gets to look at beautiful, curvy healthy women all day long... (of course, he comes back home to this 'plus-sized' girl, so i don't mind, really - and our place is peppered with photos of gorgeous girls :-) besides, it actually takes a little less time to shoot a 'plus-sized' girl - you don't have to airbrush boobs and a butt onto her body in post-production, and it's far more captivating to look at a pile of endless curves than it is to look at a stick figure. also, i work near Ford modelling agency here in new york - i have a jewelry booth in a flea market they come to a lot, and i'm often overwhelmed by how ridiculous they look in a pair of jeans... gimme a girl with a nice round ass any day.

it makes me ill to think they call them 'plus-sized' - despite the fact that it's an industry-standard term, i think they should change it to something a little more appealing - like 'healthy division' or something. because at five foot eight and 130 pounds, i certainly don't FEEL plus-sized...
posted by cadence at 5:22 AM on July 26, 2001


Valerie: thanks for your valuable insight on dress sizes. I agree that curvacious == sexy :) After all men are "pre-programmed" to like curvacious woman.

Hazyjane: media and "smart" women capitalize on other
women lack of self-confidence when it comes to body and age. Let's look at the problem from a more realistic point of view:

1) You didn't choose your body - Nature gave it to you when you were conceived. There's absolutely nothing wrong in that, that's why nobody can attack you on this topic. You couldn't choose, so you can't be guilty. Plus trying to have a X body when nature gave you an Y body isn't bad, but becoming mad or starve to death because of that is foolish.

2) Why women care soooo much about their body ? In my not so humble opinion because they think a nice body will attract more men, and more attention from men is always welcome to a woman. But men are surely more impressed by a curvaceous body then by a rail-thin body.

After that "the show" is over and the male is succesfully "attracted" body shape plays a minimal role, it all boils down to sex , but that's another topic.

So at the end men are attracted by sex, not by bodies :D After the "sex sex sex" frenzy is over 101% of men will look at what you think, what you do, and at all the info needed to understand if they only wanted to have sex with you for your body or if they like you for more then only your body.

It's a more complex thing than raw sex, trust me when I say that 99% of men that try to have a relationship consider sex as important, but not as much how they feel like when they live with a woman.

3) Other women giving cold glances is another big problem, as I understand from your message and from my girlfriend :) That's a women problem I don't really understand. OK you gave me a glance and i glanced back..what's that III World War ? WHO cares ! I'd be much more interested into men glances :))

Hope that helps

Elpapacito
posted by elpapacito at 5:27 AM on July 26, 2001


"Why women care soooo much about their body ?"—I'd think that reading through this thread, and the more knee-jerk slobbering "oh but she's HOTTTTT!" comments contained within, would answer that question a million times over.

"only .1% of them are the lucky genetic winners to be superstar beauties"—Tell that to people before they've read the countless "Steal This Look!" columns in magazines like In Style and Lucky, celeb-happy magazines that the fashionista-press are rushing to emulate in this era of faltering newsstand sales.

(There's so much more I want to say, but ugh, I am tired. Talking about gender on MetaFilter is such a losing prospect for me, thanks to the cheerily male "I feel 'politically incorrect,' and I'm proud of it" cluelessness that's rapidly becoming the norm around here.)
posted by maura at 6:38 AM on July 26, 2001


Laetitia Casta & Estella Warren both were born in '78 and both look healthy to me.
posted by riffola at 6:51 AM on July 26, 2001


Estella Warren is a girl.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:59 AM on July 26, 2001


Many of the same things are said about fat people. Fat can be healthy and trust me, there are legions of people who think fat is pretty. Don't thrust your opinions on others. And dogmatic, a large waist size doesn't automatically mean unhealthy!

Don't thrust my opinions on others? Isn't that a tad hypocrytical?

A large waist size doesn't "automatically" mean unhealthy, but it sure does help:

"The growing prevalence of obesity in the United States represents a significant health threat to millions of Americans, federal health officials say." Some claim that Obesity is Now America's Biggest Health Problem. Obesity is a proximate cause of 280,000 U.S. deaths each year, while 4 of 5 obese people have at least one costly debilitating illness, be it heart disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, cerebrovascular disease, osteoarthritis, depression, or cancer.

There's plenty more. Just do a Google search of "Obesity in America" and you'll find oodles of resources telling us that we as a nation are extremely overweight. And whether you like to think of it as a health issue or not, it is.

The problem I have, and it's clearly shown in this thread, is that as the average waist size of Americans increases the average sensibility of what is "thin," "normal," "fat," and "obese" has as well. So while the scientific indicators for what is healthy or normal have not changed, the way people see normal or healthy weight has. We are no longer encouraged to think of someone who is merely chubby as overweight. They are now considered normal because there are so many heftier bodies around.

Furthermore, it is now considered discriminatory to point things like this out. As there and more and more obese people in the country, there are more and more whining that they are not accepted in the society. Unfortunately, accepting obesity in this society is likened to encouraging it. As the social stigmas of being overweight slowly melt away with easier-to-find tent-sized clothes and catalogs and magazines that cater to this market, the number of people that choose to be fat also slowly increases.
posted by dogmatic at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2001


Something that nobody seems to have brought up is that much of this twig obsession is a white culture thing. There are certainly different standards for body sizes for black and Latina women.

Let me qualify this by pointing out that I realize that neither the white, black, or latino communities are monolithic...
posted by preguicoso at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2001


dogmatic: Don't thrust my opinions on others? Isn't that a tad hypocrytical?

The problem is that there are clear holes in your otherwise nearly-rational thinking. I'm not going to rerererepeat myself, so I'll say: read this.

Ignorance is bliss, and you continue to prove it with comments like "tent-sized clothes" and other discriminatory remarks.

Anyway, I'm not going to continue to steer things down this path in this thread. A person died, and it's sad that the most we can do (myself included) is talk about how big she was before it falls into a debate about what is and isn't plus-sized.
posted by hijinx at 7:17 AM on July 26, 2001


Dogmatic said it best. The waif look is fairly silly -- designers like rail-thin models because their clothes look the same draped upon bony shoulders and on a hanger in a store -- but Americans are, well, fat.

There's nothing wrong with being a size 10, but there are a lot of size-16 women in the U.S. who think that they're not overweight and continue to visit McDonald's. Those skinny French people mentioned earlier eat less and weigh less -- and check out their heart disease ratios vs. Americans'.

A size-10 model selling plus-size clothes is the same, relationally, as a size-0 model selling average-sized ones. The clothes look better on a fit figure. If I saw a guy with a gut wearing Banana Republic clothing, would I be as inclined to buy it as if I saw it on a handsome, trim model who made me think I'd look as good? Of course not.
posted by werty at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2001


hijinx--

i read it the first time around, but didn't participate on that thread because others said the same thing better. tent-sized rhetoric aside, i do want to point out for all the participants of this thread that said she looked normal--regardless of how we think she looks, she is overweight. she is not obese, but overweight. and i think there is a problem with social perception when we cannot see that, or we deny it, or we argue that it should be socially acceptable for everyone to be that size. there is a reason that we have the labels underweight, overweight, obese, etc. i don't think medical analysis of what is healthy should be foregone simply because the average american waist size has increased.
posted by dogmatic at 7:40 AM on July 26, 2001


Ummmm. The model wasn't fat by medical standards. That's the point. She didn't have a gut at all. She was perfectly healthy and normal - not to mention extremely beautiful. But apparently that's not good enough. Maybe she should have taken up smoking, spent several hours a day at the gym, and basically wasted all her time and health in a race to be the ideal. Guess it would have been better than suicide.
Me, I'm interested in finding balance, in finding a way to feel confident despite being normal looking, to quit obsessing about my appearance. I really don't think I'm the only woman to feel this way. Otherwise how do those stupid magazines make so much damn money?
Railing against the overweight is a completely, completely different issue.
posted by hazyjane at 7:41 AM on July 26, 2001


Oh, and I meant to say - thanks elpapacito, sounds like your girlfriend is a lucky lady.
posted by hazyjane at 7:44 AM on July 26, 2001


It takes more than a waist size to figure out a dress size.

And I wasn't suggesting that she was a size 10 dress, she was a size 10 in trousers. However, checking the rest of her measurements suggests that she was a size 10 dress, too.

There's nothing wrong with being a size 10, but there are a lot of size-16 women in the U.S. who think that they're not overweight and continue to visit McDonald's.

And there are women who are a size 16 and are neither overweight nor unhealthy. You can be a size 16 and be far more fit than someone who is a size 6. My mother is a size 16 and she runs marathons at the age of 60 59.5. You can't generalise based on size, because it doesn't work that way - size is not based on fitness, nor weight, but on measurements, and if you're taller and more muscular than the average, you will be a larger size. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're "fat" at all.

A size-10 model selling plus-size clothes is the same, relationally, as a size-0 model selling average-sized ones. The clothes look better on a fit figure.

I thought we killed this measure of ignorance in the thread that Hijinx linked to. You can be perfectly proportionate, shapely and fit of body at a size 12, 14, 16 or even 18. Maybe you've never seen it, but to suggest that plus-sized models are size 10 because larger women don't look as good in the clothes is nothing but a prejudiced, insulting, clueless comment. Educate yourself before spouting off on subjects that you clearly know nothing about.
posted by Dreama at 7:45 AM on July 26, 2001


Talking about gender on MetaFilter is such a losing prospect for me, thanks to the cheerily male "I feel 'politically incorrect,' and I'm proud of it" cluelessness

Attempting to change the basic nature of what it is to be a man and attempting to shoehorn women into unnatural gender roles for the past 20 years will tend to do that.
posted by owillis at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2001


Just what are these unnatural gender roles women have been taking on? Is there suddenly an alpha competition, Chicks with Dicks versus the Natural Sticks for genetic supremacy? Do tell, owillis, what is it to be a man that is so fragile and delicate that it can be utterly destroyed by women striving to be treated equally under the law and common perception?
posted by headspace at 10:00 AM on July 26, 2001


werty said Those skinny French people mentioned earlier eat less and weigh less -- and check out their heart disease ratios vs. Americans'.

And I reply: Wot wot? I would like to see some figures that back that up. I am an American male living in Austria. I am 5'11" and 215 pounds. Not skinny. Not giant.

But I go to lunch every day with guys who have 30 inch wastes (or smaller) who eat the exact same meals I do (often more) and who have similar levels of physical activity.

At lunch today, my colleague finished his whole plate-sized schnitzel and a large bowl of potato salad, while I could only eat half of my schnitzel and salad. This coworker has a waist size of probably 33 or 34 (as opposed to my 38) and he's 6 years older than me.

I can't explain it, but these people are, on average, sickeningly skinny, and it's not because they eat healthier food or smaller portions. Out of 75 men in my firm, there are only two larger than me, and one of those spent a considerable amount of time living in America while growing up.

I wish I knew the key...
posted by syzygy at 10:14 AM on July 26, 2001


Maybe you've never seen it, but to suggest that plus-sized models are size 10 because larger women don't look as good in the clothes is nothing but a prejudiced, insulting, clueless comment.

Dreama: I was simply (and, if you look at some catalogs, rightly) pointing out that the goal of fashion photography is to maximize the positive visual impact of items for sale. I also made my point from a male perspective, if you look again:

The clothes look better on a fit figure. If I saw a guy with a gut wearing Banana Republic clothing, would I be as inclined to buy it as if I saw it on a handsome, trim model who made me think I'd look as good? Of course not.

Personally, I fit all your supposed "prejudiced insults." I am the proper weight for my height (6', 177) and in fairly good shape, yet I have a 35-inch waist, much the same as your alluded-to plus-sized women.

However! Do I want to see a guy like me in a fashion spread? No, I subconsciously yearn to see the guy who's 6'2", 160, with a better jawline and stronger triceps than mine. Why? Because the implication is that I will be more like the handsome guy -- taller, stronger, better proportioned -- in those clothes. That's what modeling is all about, selling me the image of an even better me, no matter how good I am to begin with.

Size 8 to 14 is "plus-sized modeling" even though plus sizes usually run from 14 to 24, for exactly the reason stated above. Not to flame you back, but to accuse me of prejudice is simply ignorant.
posted by werty at 10:14 AM on July 26, 2001


(Aside: syzygy, delving into metabolism is way out of my league here. Nor does it have much to do with the nuance of selling clothes. I'll pass on that one.)
posted by werty at 10:16 AM on July 26, 2001


Just what are these unnatural gender roles women have been taking on?

For me, the problem has been instead of treating people equally we've been trying to treat them the same.

Example: sports. Women as a whole are just not interested, yet we keep getting force fed claptrap that we're being sexist boors when women's sports suffers from lack of funding, without the thought that men's sports are more popular and the level of interest is much higher among men.

This is not "better", but different.

Then there's crap like lowering entry requirements for police and firemen to make them more diverse, without looking at the need for safety first.
posted by owillis at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2001


I wish I knew the key...

Some of the low-carb diet gurus believe it's because of the prevalence of carbohydrates in the American diet. We put sugar in basically everything, whether it needs it or not, and we routinely snack on grain-based foods. This screws up our insulin levels, turning our bodies into fat-storage machines.

This is much less prevalent in Europe, though they're coming along.
posted by kindall at 10:23 AM on July 26, 2001


though they're coming along.

Great line!

Europe: the new frontier for Hawaiian Punch.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:30 AM on July 26, 2001


"women as a whole" really resent being referred to as "woman as a whole".

*lifts lip; sneers at owillis*
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:38 AM on July 26, 2001


owillis: Example: sports. Women as a whole are just not interested, yet we keep getting force fed claptrap that we're being sexist boors when women's sports suffers from lack of funding, without the thought that men's sports are more popular and the level of interest is much higher among men.

so, i guess i should have never played softball and basketball when i was a kid, in a small town leagues that had well over five hundred girls participating. i guess i should boycott the high school and college women's basketball games, and when i go to my parent's house i shouldn't enjoy watching baseball games on my parents' rad big screen tv, because i'm not supposed to be interested in sports.

i really hope that was a troll, owillis, because if it wasn't you're sadly mistaken in your understanding of "women as a whole."

or to put it another way -- a lot of men don't like sports either. one's sitting right next to me right now. should we take some precious sports funding and give it back to title ix, on his account?
posted by sugarfish at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2001


Example: sports. Women as a whole are just not interested, yet we keep getting force fed claptrap that we're being sexist boors when women's sports suffers from lack of funding, without the thought that men's sports are more popular and the level of interest is much higher among men.

What are you talking about here? Pro or college? Because frankly, I don't give a diddley where any pro team gets their money from as long as the local government isn't raising my taxes. That's just business- what sells, survives.

College, on the other hand, is supposed to be a learning environment, a woman pays just as much tuition as a man does, and right now, men's sports are getting the lions' share of the athletic funding, completely excluding NCAA contributions (which should naturally return to the source.) It shouldn't matter that no one much wants to pay to see a college girls' basketball league play, only that they have the equal opportunity to play.

As for physical requirements for FD, PD, and the military? I don't disgree with you, and I don't think most women disagree with you. If you can't physically do the job, you shouldn't try to do the job. However, I was in the Army, and I can tell you right now that there's a pretty strict, natural dividing line. The women who can't meet the requirements, can't meet lowered requirements either. The women who can meet the requirements can also meet the mens' standard. I doubt that's any different for police departments and fire departments.

There is always going to be somebody who is going to bitch because they can't do or be something they want, and that is not limited to women. There are plenty of men who file lawsuits and insist to be included in the police academy, for example, after failing their psych eval, or their eye exam. That's not a masculine or feminine propensity, that's humanly universal.
posted by headspace at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2001


i really hope that was a troll, owillis, because if it wasn't you're sadly mistaken in your understanding of "women as a whole."

Fine. The "majority" then. Sheesh.
posted by owillis at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2001


It shouldn't matter that no one much wants to pay to see a college girls' basketball league play, only that they have the equal opportunity to play.

But should it result in men's programs being gutted? I don't think so. I'm most definitely not a libertarian, but I do tend to agree with them on this issue.
posted by owillis at 11:17 AM on July 26, 2001


Did you fail to read your entire article, owillis? And I quote:

" The quota-based witches' brew of Title IX proportionality marks yet another victory by "gender feminists" over "equity feminists," a crucial distinction made by Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers... Equity feminists champion equal education and opportunity, but acknowledge basic gender differences; they allow that some women may chose to stay home and raise children, a factor that makes job quotas unfair and unrealistic. Gender feminists, however, make no allowance for gender differences, advocating that males and females are interchangeable."

Right there you have an ideological divide among feminists, which should tell you that your "women as a whole" and even "majority" doesn't exist. Plus, that doesn't even include women who don't identify as feminists, and prefer a more historically traditional lifestyle.

I'm an equity feminist, if you can't tell by now, and yes, it's a shame that these laws are being implemented stupidly. However, when both men and women are paying equal amounts of tuition, men don't have a right to have their own golf team, volleyball team, softball team, hockey team, baseball team, wrestling team, and basketball team first, and only if there's anything leftover will women have teams. It is patently discriminatory for women to put half the food on the table, but not to be allowed to eat until the men have had their fill.
posted by headspace at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2001


remember that a camera adds 10 pounds.
posted by igloo at 12:30 PM on July 26, 2001


hazyjane

I think you already made a step forward getting rid of your obsession, for the simple reason you realized it IS an obsession. Many people live with routine obsession and fears without realizing they have a problem, but you realized there's something wrong going on.

Becoming self-confident ,as far as I know, may take years or may take minutes ; there are no strictly-to-follow rules.

One trick is to think about priorities: is your "must be good looking" problem a REAL priority ? I don't know, but personally I don't think it's a priority if you compare it to other problems like being healthy, well fed, having a safe place to sleep and other basic things of life.

Obviously I use my personal priority scale, which is different from yours (probably). I guess nobody has a "consumable" solution for you, you must find it yourself, but please don't die in the process :) that would be substituting obsession of being nicelooking with obsession to find out why you're obsessed or made insecure by your body :) Keep on trying you'll find balance someday.

P.s. My gf agrees with you :) Lucky me !
posted by elpapacito at 12:59 PM on July 26, 2001


"Why? Magazines claim it's because readers don't want to see anyone larger. I don't understand it; I just mention it."

It isn't so hard to understand if you let go of your prejudice to not see something simple...

Generally speaking, people prefer trimmer models to larger ones.

Once this basic reality is accepted, the actions of the magazines becomes easy to understand.

"In reality, she's normally sized. If you believe she's fat, or overweight, or what-have-you, there's a very good chance that you've bought in to all of the media images and stereotypes."

Not at all - what I have "bought into" is what I find attractive.

Is she "normal"? Hell no. She is much prettier and probably slimmer than what is "normal" if by that we mean what is walking around at the shopping mall.

But "normal" isn't the issue here in any way at all. It doesn't really matter if that model was the same size as most women - she was still a bit chunky and she would have looked better after losing some of it.

Then again, so are most women. What is attractive is not, and never will be, subject to the "norm".

"besides, it actually takes a little less time to shoot a 'plus-sized' girl - you don't have to airbrush boobs and a butt onto her body in post-production, and it's far more captivating to look at a pile of endless curves than it is to look at a stick figure."

Sorry, the extremism isn't making your point well. The Kate Moss style rail thin girls are hardly the standard most men have for what is attractive. They are fashion models - not indicators of the beauty ideal.

Again, I'll point at the current "hottest" women (by most male minds) to show you the difference. Jessica Alba, 99% of the playboy models, most of the pop stars (female) of today and so on.

These are what most men are finding hot - not the "stick figure".

So to say that one must chose between a plus size woman for photography and a rail think stick figure is an extremist view - and an incorrect one.

We don't have to chose between Kate Moss (who is pretty BTW) and a "plus" girl. We can have the happy, athletic, trim, hot as hell middle ground.

"You didn't choose your body - Nature gave it to you when you were conceived."

For the vast, vast majority of people this is simply not true. Their bodies reflect a general level of sloth and indifference to health and fitness. The numbers show this clearly.

When someone eats well, spends a few hours a week at a gym and lays off the fast food and is still "plus" sized we can talk about what nature gave them at birth.

When they eat all wrong, spend zero time working out in any fashion and are VERY "plus" sized then they don't get to say "nature made me this way". It didn't.

Will most women have a body that matches the pop star/nike ad ideal? Nope. Is this a problem? Nope.

Most people won't ever be a great pianist either - that doesn't mean I should stop listening to the really good folks and settle for what is "normal".

"there are more and more whining that they are not accepted in the society."

it comes down to the erroneous belief that most people should be treated as if they are pretty/handsome. They don't like the idea that they are not the pinnacle of desire... and some bizzare idea that it is unfair to judge them against a standard they can't ever reach.

Get over it.

The reality is that most people AREN'T all that attractive physically - nor will they ever be. Lord knows I don't think I am anything special.

So guys aren't usually going to look at you the way they look at a supermodel. That's life. Your also never going to be a superstar scientist.

The whining comes from the idea that it is somehow "unfair" to acknowledge that some people are prettier and that some of them are more driven to work on their bodies.. and that those people will always be at the top of the "hot as hell" food chain.
posted by soulhuntre at 2:44 PM on July 26, 2001


Would it be a fair response, Dreama, to say that it is easier for a modeling agency to find an attractive size 10 girl than it is for them to find an attractive size 16 girl? Aren't there just more of the former than the latter? Or, put another way, since most people are overweight, wouldn't advertising plus-sized clothing with "proper-weight-but-big" models be just as false and silly as advertising them with thin models?

Its really sad that the American Dream only holds true in a few cases.
posted by Ptrin at 2:33 PM on July 28, 2001


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