Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lizzie Miller: “This body is her dulcimer.”

By now you’ve likely seen this photo. 

It’s the model Lizzie Miller, published in the September issue of Glamour MagazineAccording to press sources, it’s causing a “stir” because of one thing:  Lizzie’s tummy.  

I saw this first on The Sartorialist, where 500+ readers commented. Up to now, I’ve never seen more than about 175 comments, tops, on any Sart post.  

Several thoughts came to my mind after reading the press.     

Number one.  Twenty-year-old Lizzie works as a “plus-size” model.  At five-foot-eleven (1.80m), she wears a size US 12 or 14 (British 16 or 18, or European 46 or 48).  

Lizzie states that

“It’s sad. In the industry anything over size six is considered a plus-size. Pretty much every picture in a magazine or ad is airbrushed... I don’t think the public understands how much smoke and mirrors are involved in making women look like that…I’m not trying to promote obesity, and I’m not obese, but I’m also not stick thin.”

So why are women her size called “plus-sized?” 

Number two.  Public comments about Lizzie’s photo have been overwhelmingly positive—people shouting, “Finally, someone who looks like a real woman in major fashion magazine.”

But other folks complain that such imagery encourages obesity.     

So on the one hand we have photos everywhere of women who appear anorexic.  Now we have Lizzie, who appears real but is labelled, basically, a fatty. 

I acknowledge that Americans, including myself, are wont to overindulge, and our average weight has crept up dangerously in the past thirty or forty years. 

Still, is there gray area in the media between “thin” and “obese?” 

Number three.  For the title of this post, I paraphrased an ancient poem by Kabir, a 15th-century Indian poet.  The original reads:

“Listen, friend.  This body is his dulcimer.  He draws the strings tight, and out of it comes the music of the inner universe.”   

Can a body’s strings be drawn tight, even if one’s tummy is not? 

Look at Lizzie’s smile.  Do you detect her inner universe?   



Woman in a Window said...

She is absolutely perfect. Aren't we all? Some of us just aren't that brave.

Lori ann said...

Yes, exactly. Bravo Lizzie. Keep Smiling!

Cynthia L. H. said...

I find this entire story and concept fascinating. Yes. She is singing.

ethelmaepotter! said...

I agree with Woman in a Window - perfect is the word. Lizzie's smile says it all. Kudos to her for standing up for all the "perfect" women of the world.

Anonymous said...

I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:

They're all gorgeous.

The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

Zuzana said...

She is beautiful in every way, a real woman.
I think pictures of women in most fashion magazines are terribly inaccurate. Yet, in some way, we of course love to see perfection, as much as we we like happy endings and the beautiful in life, even if we know life contains so much of sadness and imperfection at all times.

So, eventually, what I miss is a variation; I miss the reality mixed with fantasy, to keep things pleasing and satisfying, but approachable and real as well.

The picture you post here is exactly that.;)) Thank you for sharing; as I have not seen this picture here in Europe.;))


Velveteen Rabbit said...

She is beautiful and I so admire her!
The wonderful taut tummys on women portrayed in magazines are what I see every day!! On my 16 year old daughter!!!!! But if you look around a beach and view 'real' women and not the teenagers, most of them have wonderful feminine rounded tummies.....not all can have wash board stomachs and perfect abs! I applaud her!

Stephanie N. said...

I'd actually not seen this photo or heard of her before. I guess I'm a bit out of the pop culture loop. Regardless, my first thought was: "Hey, there's a naked woman on sallymandy's blog! And she's hot! I wonder what this post is about?" I'm shocked to read that some people are saying this kind of imagery encourages obesity. I mean, does it also encourage pregnancy and childbirth? Because I'm pretty sure that a lot of bellies look like that after babies have lived inside them. Heck, I consider myself to be fairly slender, but my pooch sags like that when I sit down, and you know what? I like it that way!

Thanks for drawing this to our attention, SM.

Veronica Wald said...

This woman is so far from obese I am stunned anyone would even suggest it. True, she might benefit from a tummy tuck (unless it's a baby-leftover that will eventually mostly resolve itself) because as she ages, it will become more prominent and bothersome (believe me, been there, and am there right now).

This photo promotes (or blesses) obesity?? So looking like a strung-out anorexic (as some models may well be, though I do know sometimes the look is promoted through make-up and lighting) is a better ideal for us?

Lucy said...

I think she's absolutely gorgeous! What a truly honest body. Your post captured my attention immediately for more than just this model posing. Was more her radiance and my eyes adjusting to something that is never the norm in the magazine world that caught my attention. Her face, her smile, her skin, and body language radiates naturality and feel-good about self. I love this photo- Thanks:)

Gal Friday said...

I had seen this photo on the web, maybe last week and thought at the time it was a sad thing that it has prompted such an outcry. What on earth for? She doesn't look in the least overweight or unhealthy, and most of us women(or men?) would likely have some jiggle in the same place, whatever our size.
I think we are forgetting what real people, even absolutely beautiful people, look like in real life because of the media's use of airbrushing and photoshopping or else demanding that models/actresses starve themselves for the camera.
I think Lizzie Miller ought to be on the cover of the next Glamour mag issue.

Unknown said...

I would say most women have a tummy, especially after children. As a whole we are too hung up on the outside......... It is the heart and mind that matters.

I have not seen the photo until now. She is gutsy!! I am so proud of her.

Jean said...

Gorgeous photo, gorgeous post. Thank you Sallymandy!

Cheryl said...

She's beautiful! When I was an art student, we had models of all types, including a few model perfect types. But it was always the so called less than perfect models, the ones with lots of curves, creases and body fat that we got excited about. The other ones, one guy, who in hindsight I should have dated, were boring.

Saz said...

OMGosh I just realised we've posted same posts a day apart!
Isnt she lovely!!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

She is tall, not fat. I mean, really!

The Clever Pup said...

You can't win can you? Super thin models are blamed for anorexia - this picture for obesity?!?

While North America is struggling with an obesity problem, Lizzie is promoting a healthy attitude.

sallymandy said...

Thanks, everyone. I think we all agree on this--Lizzie isn't anywhere near overweight, and it's the fashion industry that's off its rocker.

I recently read that in the American fashion industry, if you are over a size 4 you're considered plus size. It's truly disgusting and amazing, and if I were younger and more hysterical I'd be up in arms about the impact of this on my daughter. Fortunately I do believe I have as much influence on her as anything.

Yesterday, in her health class she was studying what the media are and how they influence young minds. Bravo, teachers.

But also, I want to thank my readers for commenting in this photo and post because the last few days have made me examine my own deep seated continuing issues with body image. I don't think I'm overblown or obsessive, but face it...I'm an American woman who grew up with this garbage. I now have even more ammunition against the negative messages I internalized for decades.