America’s Next Top Model, Cosmo and being a “Real” Woman

Waspish: Judge J Alexander showed how his hands fit all the way round the 6

This week Ann Ward was announced as the latest winner of America’s Next Top Model.  She is 6ft 2in and  who weighs less than 100 lbs.  Her waist so slender you could put both hands around it.

Of course we all know models are ridiculously thin; they collapse on runways and even die because they survive on diets of lettuce and diet coke [as in the case of Luisel Ramos.]

Incidently, when Ramos collapsed and died on the runway at a Uruguay’s fashion show she weighed just over 7 stone, the same as Ann Ward.

It seems that the public outcry that resulted from Ramos’ death in 2006, the banning of models who had a BMI of less than 18 and the crowning of  “plus size” Whitney Thompson as AMTM winner in 2008 may have been a passing phase.

Whitney Thompson by the way, the model with the “fuller figure” wears UK size 8-10.

We thought the craze of size zero and super svelte figures had come and gone but I’m not sure we’ve moved on that far.

Cosmopolitan, the magazine for “Fun, Fearless Females” is adamantly anti super-skinny and pro “real” women.

The  May 2009 issue was the “naked body confidence issue.”  The front cover has the following headlines:

  • “Cellulite is not a crime.  Cosmo gets real about women’s bodies”
  • “Real women share their body confidence tips”
  • “The fight back against size zero”

All very positive.

But what exactly does a “real” woman look like?

The cellulite story is about Mischa Barton, who is 5 ft 9 in and a size 10, criticised for being too fat.  Obviously a sad and ridiculous criticism.

Size 10 is healthy, but it’s still considerable smaller than the average woman in the UK [who wears a size 16]

Next the story about size zero.  It’s really not a bad article, highlighting the double standards in Hollywood [can you imagine the female version of Seth Rogen playing opposite the male version of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up], the insanity of competitive dieting and the sad reality that a size 12 woman can’t get a date in LA.

So who are the women promoting loving your body?  Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson and Denise Van Outen.  Again, none of them unhealthily thin, but not exactly the typical girl of the street either.

Surely only having thin, beautiful women promoting a love your body campaign means it loses a little bit of credibility.

I’m sure that if a lot of the women who have body hang-ups  looked like Denise Van Outen, they might find the idea of loving your body a little more realistic.

And what are we meant to think when Mischa Barton says: “I have days where I’m like, ‘oh, I hate this or that about myself.’ It happens a lot.”

She puts this down to being a “normal girl.”

So why does being a normal girls mean worrying about your weight, thinking about cellulite and get stressed about your dress size.  And does it really help when in  Cosmo world normal girls look like Denise Van Outen or Jennifer Love Hewitt?

OK, so super-skinny is out, but size 16 isn’t exactly in either, and in the end women’s magazines do more to perpetuate  standards of skinniness than make larger than average women [and even average sized women] feel good about their bodies.

 

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About Rachel Conner

Rachel Conner is currently a postgraduate newspaper journalism student at Cardiff University. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Durham with an LLB. View all posts by Rachel Conner

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