Models with curves: Women

11/03/2014

Many MANY years ago (sometime in the early-mid 1990s) I attended a fundraising event for a local hockey team which included a fashion parade. As this all took place in my small childhood hometown, the fashion parade featured actual team members. Not models. Not even wannabe models. Just normal women. Hockey players.

I still remember my reaction to the amateur-hockey players-come-models appearing in lingerie cos I was mega shocked.

Oh. My. God! These women were nearly-naked! In public; nearly naked! It all felt very intrusive and I felt like we should all be averting our eyes lest we be seen as pervy. I can’t remember if there were men present but had I been male (or gay) I might have been very excited by the whole thing.

My self-consciousness surprised me. We see models in bathers (swimmers / togs etc) and underwear in fashion parades and magazines ALL OF THE TIME. Why on earth did I suddenly find the sight of near-naked women to be such a surprise?

Of course I finally realised it was because they looked normal. Normal sexual, sensual women (kinda like the ‘plus’ sized models below).

Source: news.com.au

Source: news.com.au

There are many pretty (or even stunning) female models out there but (again, although I’m not male or gay) I don’t find them sexually appealing. At all. I’m not implying that the world at large should find them asexual or devoid of sexual appeal, but I think my own meh-ness is because we’re inured to seeing such women.

We’re kinda accustomed to seeing slim celebs in a bikini or Victoria’s Secrets’ models clad in silk, sequins and feathers – and little else. So we’re a bit… #meh.

le-defile-victoria-s-secret-2013-est-une

It may just be me, but I look at this picture and see ‘models’.

I wonder if I’m alone in this.

It isn’t meant to be a skinny bashing or fat-acceptance thing; just my own realisation that I’m perhaps desensitised re slim, fit bodies in limited clothing, that curvy (or normal) women can be quite confronting – not in an unattractive way – rather as a reminder that they’re women. Sexual beings.

I felt the exact same way on seeing these mannequins a few weeks ago (shared on Facebook by Garner Style).

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The photo has been doing the rounds and I shared it on my Diet Schmiet Facebook page. I wouldn’t look twice at the picture if it featured thin mannequins I realised.

Of course the fashion world finally makes sense in a d’oh way! Once upon a time before the rise of the supermodel in the 1980s, most models were akin to clothes hangers. Their bodies weren’t meant to attract any attention as it had to be all about the clothes, rather than the person wearing them.

HKxZB

From: blog.curvykate.com
I look at this picture and see… women.

It’s a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment for me. I’ve always assumed the media-driven ideal reflects the opinion of the masses. I’ve assumed ‘perfection’ (however we view it) is everything and anything less just doesn’t cut it. However… maybe there are people (men?) who think the same way. Perhaps others look beyond the silk and lace and see something alluringly real.

I’ve struggled for a VERY long time with body image issues but in recent times have started to appreciate beauty in a broader sense (no pun intended!). I’m still far too big to accept my layers as womanly curves, but I think I’m getting there. Slowly but surely.

Do you view slimmer models and bigger models differently?
Do you think it’s possible to be immune to the allure of slim / traditional models because we see them all of the time?  

I’m again linking with Jess and the IBOT team today.

 

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

@Kanga_Rue March 11, 2014 at 8:19 am

I *love* the photo from Curvy Kate – that is definitely sexy. Like you, the traditional model photos are a bit “meh”.

A department store in the UK started using real-sized (size 14-16) mannequins a year or so ago, to reflect the majority of the population. Refreshing!

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

Perhaps I don’t shop enough (at all) but I’m yet to see any…

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Liz March 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

To be honest, something I don’t think of – but I must admit thinking that the mannequins in stores are often so off base with reality, that they’re not worth displaying!

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

Yes… Someone shared a Barbie doll based on the average measurements of a 19yr old (or something) recently on FB and I have to say that doll looked strong and fabulous.

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Lee-Anne March 11, 2014 at 8:35 am

Considering that the vast majority of women are size 14 or larger, and that virtually no adult women who are ‘normal and well-adjusted’ are size 6, it’s about time the fashion industry started redressing the problem of models and mannequins!

A refreshing post :)

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

Thanks Lee-Anne.

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Jo Tracey March 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

I agree- I find “plus” sized or real model photos to be somehow more sensual because they are real. Somehow you know that behind these women and their actual curves is an appetite for, well, life.

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yes, just something more ‘real’ about them. When I shared the mannequin pic on FB, Satu (from Finland) commented that they were more corporeal which I realised was SO true.

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Janet @ Middle Aged Mama March 11, 2014 at 9:25 am

I stop and actually look when I see a curvier model – because it makes me think “aha! something that I might actually want to buy/wear!” And you know what – they might be bigger but I still don’t think they look half bad – it makes me feel better about myself!

Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:16 am

Janet, I stopped buying any fashion magazines years ago because they were completely irrelevant. I knew I wouldn’t look like the models in those magazines AND I couldn’t fit into (or afford!!!) any of the clothes in those magazines!)

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Char March 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

These days I don’t know what to think about models – especially photos of models. Most of the time they’ve been so altered that there’s not much in the way of reality there. I can say though that the only time I ever had reason to hire models (for the RAQ Fashion Awards) I went for fitter, more shapely ones rather than string beans. They made my clothes look so much better.

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

Oh… that’s interesting Char as often it’s the opposite!

Deb

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Andrew March 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

To add a male perspective here is that I totally agree with everything written. I’m married to a wonderful woman, very fit and toned and totally awesome and a size 12. No fat at all and it’s just natural to be that size. It becomes unnatural and just a figment of societies imagination that normal woman are size 6 or smaller let alone a size 2 that most mannequins are. I’m lucky to have a wife this size and think more guys who drive the skinny craze and suggest women loose weight need to go and get their head checked as it’s the way it has been for years. Natural is normal and I say more people need to accept it

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 11:28 am

Thanks so much for your comment Andrew. I still remember an episode of a TV show years ago about men who were model-worshippers and I think I sometimes assume that’s the norm, but realise that some men probably feel the way you do (and I do)!

Deb

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Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me March 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I’m actually married to a man who can’t stand skinny, bony chicks, sure he likes to oogle models but they have to have some curves, shape – men like that do exist – just a shame the media only makes skinny models seems acceptable! Go you for slowly gaining in body image confidence, we only get one body, we must all try and love it no matter what, I know easier said than done. Today I posted a photo of me before kids, I’ll never get back there but you know I remember not even feeling great then – looking back I can’t believe it, why wasn’t I happy – I should have been, but you know now I’m much bigger and actually feel more comfy in my own skin, maybe it’s child birth or old age but I’m also noticing a change in my thinking x

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I was going to link back to a post a little while ago about plus size fashion and models and the fact that I still struggle with the idea of wearing whatever I want. In that post I talked about a US blogger (Girl with Curves) I really admire and who I think is stunning. I think she, (and the Aussie Curves girls) are helping with that shift in thinking!

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Bec@ The Plumbette March 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

My husband loves a woman with curves. He can’t stand Keira Knightly because he thinks she looks anorexic. I prefer to see a woman with curves and extra layers than a woman with her rib cage sticking out. Thankfully I don’t see a lot of near naked women so I haven’t really thought about how I feel when I see skinny versus curvy. Now I’m going to think of you and this post next time I see a half clothed woman!!

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Oh no!

I have to say I was (obviously – or I wouldn’t have written about it 20yrs later) surprised at my own reaction to the non-models.

Real women in their underwear! Egad!

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Lisa@RandomActsOfZen March 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Yes, I don’t even see the models or mannequins any more, because they don’t reflect much of a reality to me. To see those women in the photos looking curvy and healthy (this is an assumption of their health of course) is refreshing.

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Yes… I tried not to venture into the ‘healthy’ vs ‘unhealthy’ debate and stick to the ‘how they look’ side of things.

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Jess March 11, 2014 at 10:40 pm

I totally agree with you, I almost don’t see your average bony models as real people because they are so stiff, unnatural looking generally. I definitely dont see them as sex symbols. And I know of very few men who actually seek out that body type, not trying to skinny shame though or criticise skinny women. I think it is sad that plus size models are average sized or even still well below average sized women.

I did randomly go to a fashion show recently and was sitting right next to the run way. The models were not teeny tiny, but all thin, tall amd modelish looking. Just healthier weights. However, I found it very awkward to watch as they really do come out expressionless, avoiding eye contact and trying to maintain this mannequin type demeanor. They almost didn’t seem like real people.

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Debbish March 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Perhaps that was part of the allure of the amateurs – they SEEMED like real people as well as looking like them!

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Satu March 12, 2014 at 7:23 am

I have to say I haven’t much given thought to the whole issue. I feel the fashion pictures in the magazines are like movie stars – nothing to do with “real” people.

There’s actually a women’s magazine in Finland that uses real women (readers, all shapes and sizes) to model in their fashion shots. Sometimes the magazine publishes letters from ruffled readers who complain they can’t relate to the fashion shots because real women don’t look like that. It’s quite funny. :-)

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Debbish March 12, 2014 at 8:45 am

Oh, how strange – guess we’re never happy!

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iSophie March 12, 2014 at 8:30 am

I also don’t pay any attention to ‘models’ but def turns my head when I see normal shaped women mannequins etc. because I think “good!” Hopefully more stores and companies follow suit. #teamIBOT

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Debbish March 12, 2014 at 8:45 am

Hi Sophie and yes, it’d be nice to see some normal sized mannequins about!

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kimwp March 12, 2014 at 10:21 am

We are inured to half naked “perfect” models because we see them all the time. I agree that to see a more “normal” body is almost shocking and much more viscerally sexy.

However I don’t know what the right word is but I don’t think curvy is right. Not having a go but it just doesn’t work for me. Teeny tiny size 6 people can have curves and legitimately be described as curvy. When I put on weight, I look a bit more square rather than curved.

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Debbish March 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

Yes that’s true. When I was looking for pictures I actually found some quite slim women… but who didn’t look like models and I had the same reaction. I think it may well be anything different from the ‘typical’ model that catches our eye!

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EssentiallyJess March 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm

You know when I see a model or a mannequin, I don’t think I think a whole lot, except for perhaps ‘could I pull off that outfit? Is that outfit practical for someone who isn’t stick thin. I guess that makes me appreciate more realistic sizes more.
As of actual models, I’ve never really seen any and pictures, again, I’m just wondering if I could wear the outfit ;)

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Debbish March 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Yes, same. It’s hard to imagine myself in something when the person looks nothing like I ever will!
:-)

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