The Unbearable Lightness Of Models

Via Adrienne comes the news that Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times is under seige by fat chicks.

Chunky women in their underwear have surrounded my house.

Billboards of chunky women, that is. If you've been downtown lately, you've no doubt noticed the ads for Dove soap, featuring regular-sized women in bras and panties. It's part of a nationwide "Campaign for Real Beauty," and it's drawing waves of attention from the media. (For a major debate on this issue that's sure to sever some friendships in our Features Department, check out Pages 44-45.)

There's no doubt the ads are attention-getting. Let's put it this way: this is the first time in 3,000-plus columns that I've ever mentioned Dove soap.

Now here's where I'm supposed to say that I find it refreshing to see "real people" on billboards, given that our culture is so obsessed with youth and beauty, and that most billboards feature impossibly gorgeous, ridiculously thin women who have been airbrushed to a level of perfection that 99.9 percent of the population can never reach.

But the raw truth is, I find these Dove ads a little unsettling. If I want to see plump gals baring too much skin, I'll go to Taste of Chicago, OK? I'll walk down Michigan Avenue or go to Navy Pier. When we're talking women in their underwear on billboards outside my living room windows, give me the fantasy babes, please.

And just who are these portly princesses making Roeper's life hell?

I don't claim to be any less superficial or shallow than Roeper, but I feel the need to comment. As Amanda Marcotte says, in so many words, where's the beef? If this is what goes for "chunky" these days - if the standard for bodytype has skewed that far toward the green leafy end of the spectrum - well then, in the words of that titan texualist Clarence Thomas, "Something has gone seriously awry."

While having no firm theory for why so many fashion models appear in need of a gastric tube, one tentative conjecture I held was that it was a combined product of the preferences of women who purchase high-end fashionwear and homosexual men who dominate the elite circles of the fashion industry, neither of whom appraise female attractiveness the way heterosexual men do. The fact that pictures of women geared toward making money off of men such as those in Playboy magazines featured women with a healthy amount of subcutaneous tissue seemed to be evidence in my favor. Similarly, most of my male friends prefer normal-sized women, err, "chunky" in the parlance of the times. But perhaps Roeper's complaints suggest that there are more men out there than I thought who do prefer wafer-thin women in need of a sammich.

Here's to hoping for a return to a more originalist interpretation of female beauty. In the immortal words of that great philosopher Big Boi, "Big girls need love too no discrimination here".

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Hear, hear! Those women

Hear, hear! Those women look anything but "chunky" to me. In fact I'd say they look considerably healthier than the typical model who seem to have 90% of their body fat in one place (or two, depending on how you look at it/them). It seems to me that actual muscles and not looking one meal away from starvation actually represent a better ideal to strive for or admire.

Y'know, it would be

Y'know, it would be interesting to see how the models would end up if there were a sudden wave of straight american men entering the women's fashion arena...

For what it's worth, if I were in on that effort my models would look a lot like Vida Guerra. Do a Google if you don't know who I'm talking about.

I think the women on the

I think the women on the billboard would be a little cuter if they were a little thinner, but calling them chunky is absurd, and fashion models are too thin.

Some thinness is an indication of youth and thus fertility and attractive from an evolutionary standpoint...but too little body fat means women don't produce estrogen, and their femaleness is in some sense < 1.0

Actually, Playboy and SI run

Actually, Playboy and SI run neck and neck, so I would be surprised if one issue of SI can stand up to Playboy's year run.

Giselle Bunchen's Boob

Giselle Bunchen's Boob Job:

http://www.goodplasticsurgery.com/archives/005389.html

Adrianna Lima's Boob Job:

http://www.goodplasticsurgery.com/archives/005595.html

- Josh

"What’s the betting more

"What’s the betting more men buy Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (which features these models men are supposed to find unattractive) than Playboy?"

Not that I would know from experience, but I can tell this is an inappropriate comparison: there's more social stigma attached to buying full-blown porn mags than there is to buying the SI swimsuit addition.

Agreed. Those women are, in

Agreed. Those women are, in the parlance of our times, man..."hot".

Especially the blonde in the middle...and I don't even go for blondes.

If this be "chunky", make the most of it!

What came first: the heroin,

What came first: the heroin, or the chic?

-sam

I know "chunky" - both my

I know "chunky" - both my husband and myself are, er, weighted at the upper end of the scale. I have lost some weight lately, and I really do feel better - asthma is improved, able to move more easily and without pain, etc.

But those ladies are NOT "chunky".

The regular model-types are better described as "boys with boobs", thanks to implants. They are hot with the designers because the look that's popular with designers is the drag-queen look - which is VERY strong facial features, virtually fat-less legs, hips, and butt, and, in general, the look of a man "passing" as a woman.

I'm with Roeper on this one.

I'm with Roeper on this one.

I agree that stick-women

I agree that stick-women aren't very sexy, and that to my eye these women certainly do look like a gay man's idea of what's sexy (young men). But the "gay theory of thin women models" doesn't fully explain the phenonenom. There's both "supply" of ideas, and "demand"; since gay men are not the primary market, you know that the women who buy fashion are also responding to it.

Fashion is not just about turning men's heads. It is a status competition among women. As such, historically, the idea was to use fabric that the poor couldn't afford. Rich women could mark themselves off easily, with resulting advantage in the mating game. Body image was much less important.

With the advent of modern capitalism, everyone could afford fabric. Competition shifted to design of clothes; clothes as art. But there, again, capitalism followed and beautified all clothing. Everyone can afford designers. So now the competition has shifted again, and this is where body image comes in. Super-thinness requires training for most women to achieve. Training requires leisure time, which is still the mark of the rich. So, stick-women are just the specific modern response to a more general problem: how to show class for the purposes of status competition.

"I want my women to look

"I want my women to look like women, not prepubescent boys."
-- Ed the Sock

Roeper's a whiny dink. If he wants to look at ultrathin models, there is no shortage of material.

The regular model-types are

The regular model-types are better described as “boys with boobs", thanks to implants. They are hot with the designers because the look that’s popular with designers is the drag-queen look - which is VERY strong facial features, virtually fat-less legs, hips, and butt, and, in general, the look of a man “passing” as a woman.

Come on, does anybody really believe this? It seems to be a regularly repeated trope but I call bs. Look at the most popular models, Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima, Natalia Vodianova, Ana Beatriz Barros, Kate Moss etc. none of them look remotely like drag queens (nor do they have implants). Also: What's the betting more men buy Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (which features these models men are supposed to find unattractive) than Playboy?

I don't consider Playboy

I don't consider Playboy centerfolds and SI swimsuit models as very different bodytypes. SI models usually have a little sumpin sumpin in the right places, and Playboy models have a little sumpin more.

When I speak of too thin models, I'm mainly talking about fashion models including but not limited to Kate Moss, Erin O'Connor, Carolyn Murphy, Karen Elson, and Carmen Kass. I think these models that mostly stick to the runway are in a league all their own, apart from Playboy and SI models.

Brandon, The data come from

Brandon,

The data come from a CDC study published in 2002 comparing height and weight of Americans from 1960 to 2000. The numbers may well have changed somewhat since then. I didn't read far enough to determine whether the average is mean or median.

My point wasn't that 164 and 5'4" was ideal body size, only that, by way of comparison with average women, both the women in Playboy and in SI are pretty thin. To assert that heterosexual men clearly dislike thin women based on Playboy models strikes me as not particularly good evidence of anything of the sort. Said models are actually pretty close to the same sizes as fashion models, or at the very least, they are far closer to the body-type of fashion models than they are to a normal body-type.

See http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/healthcare/a/tallbutfat.htm

Giselle Bunchen’s Boob

Giselle Bunchen’s Boob Job:

[...]

Adrianna Lima’s Boob Job:

Sorry, I'm not buying either. Adriana Lima's breasts look exactly the same size in both pictures. There's no such thing as a boobjob that looks natural, there's always the telltale line around the implant. You could get away with it fully clothed, but in a bikini or lowcut neckline, no chance.

Actually, Playboy and SI run neck and neck, so I would be surprised if one issue of SI can stand up to Playboy’s year run.

And none of Playboy's customers are repeat subscribers? - I'm guessing that there are more men who own a copy of SI swimsuit than a copy Playboy. For the purposes of argument it doesn't really matter, so long as they're roughly equivalent. If you're going to draw inferences about the male preferences for female body type, there's really no reason to pick Playboy and ignore SI swimsuit which still manages to make money selling pictures of these "too thin" models who are supposed to appeal only to gay men and fashion-obsessed women.

Now consider that the

Now consider that the average American woman is 5?4? and 164 lbs.

Are you sure about that? At six feet even, I weigh 190 pounds, and a few years ago I was as low as 170-175 without being particularly thin. If what you say is correct, and it's the median (rather than the mean, which could be pulled up by some obese outliers), then the conclusion to draw is that the average American woman is fat, not that 164 pounds is anywhere near ideal for a 5'4" woman. So it's not really a meaningful comparison.

I think the fashion industry

I think the fashion industry prefers thin models because it's much easier to drape clothes of varying styles and silhouettes upon that physique. In other words, they make better mannequins. So blame the designers.

Frank, I have no idea what

Frank, I have no idea what pictures you were looking at, but the ones I saw on the entry for Adrianna Lima showed an obvious difference. She didn't go for gigantic ones, but clearly she went bigger, in the "before" picture they didn't even stick out.

Frank: "If you’re going to

Frank: "If you’re going to draw inferences about the male preferences for female body type, there’s really no reason to pick Playboy and ignore SI swimsuit which still manages to make money selling pictures of these “too thin” models who are supposed to appeal only to gay men and fashion-obsessed women."

I don't get the supposed contrast between Playboy and SI. Both sport pictures of curvy, but ultimately extremely thin women. By way of comparison, Jenny McCarthy is 5'7" and about 120 lbs. Rebecca Romijn is about 5'11" and around 130 lbs. Both women have a 24" waist. There is a bit of difference between the two, but not really all that much. Now consider that the average American woman is 5'4" and 164 lbs.

Here's an interesting

Here's an interesting experiment to demonstrate the hypothetical "queer eye" effect on the selection of models. Go to google, and search for images with keywords "model" and "fashion". That is:
http://images.google.com/images?q=fashion%20model&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wi
(warning: not particularly worksafe)

This will result in page after page of hits, some of which are "fashion" shots, others of models not necessarily doing fashion, and others unrelated.

Compare the "fashion" pictures (women in dresses on runways, or obviously posing for photos), with the other pictures of women. I think you'll notice the what we've been proposing above. Models are much more androgenous than the other pictures of women.

Frank. You can "get away

Frank. You can "get away with" "the telltale line around the implant" by "airbrushing." Just saying.

I always liked Monica

I always liked Monica Lewinsky.

Being at the upper end of male size (186.69cm tall) I always worried I would crush one of them skinny jobs with a decent bear hug.

I prefer women who can take a pounding.

"I prefer women who can take

"I prefer women who can take a pounding."

Careful... some of them might pound you back.

Rebecca Romijn is something

Rebecca Romijn is something of an outlier in terms of SI models. Most are nowhere near as thin as she is. The list of major cover girls over the years -- Kathy Ireland, Rachel Hunter, Ashley Richardson, Laetitia Casta, Tyra Banks -- have, in the main, been tall, athletic, and buxom. None of them would ever be called overweight, but neither are they typically "skinny."

"Super models" are generally divided in two distinct classes -- high fashion, and swimsuit/lingerie. The latter category includes the SI models, as well as those in the Victoria's Secret catalogue, and there is a great degree of overlap between those two. There is very little overlap, on the other hand, between SI models and the runway darlings of the past decade -- Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista. I believe Naomi Campbell appeared in SI once or twice, but that's one of few exceptions. Cindy Crawford, who was always considered unusually "stocky" by the high fashion crowd, appeared in SI only once, and former editor Julie Campbell wouldn't use her again because she considered her too thin.

The Playboy v. SI distinction drawn in this thread is FAR off base. The typical Playboy model is typically much THINNER than the typical SI model, not the other way around. The typical Playboy model is also almost guaranteed to have breast implants, whereas that's relatively rare among SI models, but that seems to be skewing the view of the body types involved. SI models have very, very impressive bodies -- probably as close to the ideal for most men's tastes as any women could be. Playmates have freakish bodies, possible only through the miracles of elective surgery. There are plenty of men who are actually turned off by such strange and unnatural proportions, or who would be if they saw these women in the light of day, as opposed to on the page.

:cool: I beleieve full

:cool:
I beleieve full figured women are fantastic! They are out in public just like the rest of us and are confident and do not give a shit what others think of them. I am a curvy chick i have a size 8 upper body and size 10 lower and i work out everyday. I love my curves and so do the guys. So to the ladies be proud and be the dominate one out there!!!! You go Girls!!