In case you were somehow unaware, Sports Illustrated has been trending and buzzing it’s way through recent news due to the inclusion of two particular models, Ashley Graham, a personal longtime favorite, 5’9’’, size 16, and Robyn Lawley, an Australian stunner with many high-fashion groundbreaking credentials, 6’2’’, size 12, who have both been deemed by the Fashion World to be “plus size” (keeping in mind that even a size 6 is considered “plus” in this same world, add to that my current distaste of the term “plus size” which will certainly be a future topic for me).
Watching a news clip on this recently and seeing the words: “Unprecedented” flashing below, made me wonder in exasperation…why do womyn even desire or strive to be included in an entity as sexist as Sports Illustrated?!? Because my life doesn’t require approval from males in the same way as my hetero-idenentified female counterparts, I believe I’m freed from the dualistic pressure that straight women face daily having to love men while also knowing they are treated as complete sex objects in a man’s world. Honestly, would dudes ever have noticed a “drastic” or “shocking” difference in beautiful bodies if there wasn’t such a craze made, or would they still just be drooling over another sexy woman’s body parts?!
Because of this label put upon the curves of their hips and the width of their thighs, it has now been seen as almost revolutionary to have such bodies included amongst, what is the current social ideal of a feminine form, as shown in the image below:
source of image: http://www.wbli.com/news/entertainment/morning-show/sexiest-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-cover-ever/nj5Kh/
The complex duality of Ashley and Robyn’s inclusion is a positive small step for real-bodied womyn worldwide, yet leaves MUCH to be desired by real womyn as it still exists within a sexist and sizest (not to mention all the other ists and isms) heteronormative male-dominated framework! Essentially, while I love half of the message, I hate that other pervasive and sneaky half just lurking under the shadowy implications that these bodies are uniquely “Plus Size,” rather than a normal part of the body diversity spectrum.
My Love/Hate List with a Body Positive Twist:
source of image: posted on @swimsuitsforall instagram account.
LOVE –There is absolutely no denying her notably luscious curves in this photo and the fact that her body is bigger than the average size zero model – visibilising them as frequently and as publicly as possible can only prove helpful to the Body Positive movement.
HATE – I would love the messaging of the ad so much more if the fully clothed white skinny dude was photoshopped back out! It does sadden me that even to sell a womyn’s bathing suit, the male gaze must be appeased, not to mention that this male is not only someone I would never want to stare at my ass, but to be real, his female equivalent in the looks department would never be allowed in an ad or spread. (On closer dimple-free thigh inspection, I also have the innate fear that Ashley’s body is in some way photoshopped in this image.)
LOVE – They are advertising for Graham’s own swimsuit line which she created, and can only mean more business flow going her entreprenaurial way, which in turn can only mean: more size inclusive swimsuits for us womyn, and hopefully more and more ads catering to our real bodies!
HATE – Sports Illustrated did not actually monetarily endorse Ashley Graham (as they then afterwards chose to do with Robyn Lawley) by featuring her in their own fashion spread, but rather simply agreed to feature her “Swimsuits For All” ad campaign in their publication. This was not a celebratory photo shoot, but a third party ad. The subtext to me means Sports Illustrated simply accepted a big “fat” check to run a clothing ad in their magazine (notice how the word “fat” immediately gets a positive connotation when used this capitalistic way)! Additionally, they made it seem groundbreaking while making themselves look “progressive,” and profiting financially in the process.
LOVE – Did I mention those undeniable curves?! (#CurvesInBikinis !)
HATE – Young womyn, or really womyn of all ages, who see their bodies being labeled as “plus size,” which seems to mean “greater than” but really in this society equates with “less than”, ”other” or ”shameful,” could potentially feel all of those illicit implications, coupled with with body dysmorphia on comparison. The act of body comparison in itself is an epidemic created by society that needs to come to a screeching halt as well.
source of image: posted on @robynlawley1 instagram account.
LOVE – Labeling Robyn’s body as “Plus Size” (while ridiculous & outrageous) has opened up a larger conversation about what that term actually means both in fashion, mainstream media and real worlds, and whether it should just be eliminated all together (yes, duh) – many womyn found this controversial and expressed anger on social media outlets!
HATE – Sports Illustrated put her in their “Rookie” section despite the fact that Robyn has had some seriously groundbreaking modeling experiences under her belt (i.e. She is best known as one of three cover models of Vogue Italia’s June 2011 issue, the second plus-size model to cover Elle France, the first plus-size model to be shot for Australian Vogue and GQ Australia, the first Australian plus size model to be on the cover of Australia Cosmopolitan, and first “plus size” model used in a Ralph Lauren ad)! This newbie categorization is laughable at best.
LOVE – This photographic visual can help the masses better understand size diversity. When people hear “size 12” they may immediately form a judgmental concept of what that looks like, but Robyn reminds us of the beauty of all bodies, sizes, and shapes! It helps people begin to divorce themselves from defining bodies by size – I can’t help but wonder what other size people think could be actually healthy to sustain a height of 6 feet 2 inches!
HATE – It is kept somewhat under cover by S.I. that she is actually one month pregnant during this shoot – another important reality for womyn, and let’s be real the men who will be ogling, to process, digest, and conceptualize.
LOVE – While Robyn may be lesser widely known in the modeling world currently, she certainly has never had any qualms with wearing her voice strongly both on her body and in her words. She speaks out on issues of feminism and sustainability – all of which I found out by googling and instagraming – I encourage others to do this too, (plus she is featured wearing her own swimsuit line, which is very badass boss lady of her!)