The Magazine Photo People Can't Stop Discussing


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  210 comments   :  28,668 Views

When we open the pages of most magazines, we're often greeted by airbrushed photos of women whose job it is to be skinny. If we're looking for validation of our own bodies or positive body images, we're in the wrong place.

Like most media outlets, magazines are still dominated by underweight, unattainable ideals of beauty. But recently, one magazine featured a photo that people can't stop talking about.

I saw mention of it on several healthy living blogs last week, and then SparkPeople member Mardee (flutterbymim) contacted me about the photo:

"I love it. It's about a photograph in Glamour of a "real" woman, and how she's comfortable in the skin she's in."

Readers kept writing to Glamour editor Cindi Leive about the woman, on page 194 of the magazine's September issue. Her response in a blog:

(Click on the blog link to see the picture for yourself.)

"The woman on p. 194" is actually 20-year-old model Lizzi Miller, and this is her second appearance in Glamour, shot by fashion photographer Walter Chin. A size 12-14 and avid softball player/belly dancer ("I like exercising when it's fun"), Lizzi moved to New York City from San Jose three years ago to become a model (a "plus-size" one by modeling industry standards, though hello, at size 12 she's actually "normal size"...but I digress).

"When I was young I really struggled with my body and how it looked because I didn't understand why my friends were so effortlessly skinny," Lizzi told me. "As I got older I realized that everyone's body is different and not everyone is skinny naturally--me included! I learned to love my body for how it is, every curve of it. I used to be so self-conscious in a bikini because my stomach wasn't perfectly defined. But everyone has different body shapes! And it's not all about the physical! If you walk on the beach in your bikini with confidence and you feel sexy, people will see you that way too."

I'm really excited to see a woman who looks "real" in a magazine.

However, this is ONE photo in ONE magazine article that's about feeling comfortable in one's skin. This is a great step, but I kind of think that in the broader sense, this seems like token diversity. One "real" woman, to balance out the dozens of scrawny ones.

Bravo, Glamour! This is a great motivator for women, and we appreciate seeing someone as lovely and honest as Lizzi in a magazine.

But we'd like to see "real" women in fashion spreads, too. You're leading the way, but there's a long road ahead of all of us.

What do you think about this photo? Is it a giant step forward for magazines? Is this an example of "separate but equal," like the weight-based reality shows we wrote about awhile back?

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  • 210
    Thank you for sharing this, what so many of us already know...real women posses true beauty! I have always referred to me and my sister as "Super Sized Barbies"...I need to lose weight, that doesn't mean I am not beautiful, I want to be healthy not skinny...thanks for sharing this and reinforcing what I already know to be true! - 4/8/2010   3:20:11 PM
  • STEPH8810
    I think it's great that pictures like this are in magazines. But don't you think that here (sparkpeople) of all places should have pictures like that? When I login the cute girl in the top right corner eating her bowl of fruit is a size 2. When am I going to see "real" women in the place I come most often to better myself? - 4/8/2010   12:15:29 AM
  • 208
    In comment 202, the writer talks about how the models are airbrushed & really don't look like that in real life. If this is the case, how or why are they even models? Why can't more women like Lizzi be doing photo shoots? OR better yet, real people from Spark?
    Forget the modeling industry, I say we have Spark People do the fashion spreads & the world can see what REAL beauty is!
    Yeay Glamour for getting real! - 12/3/2009   12:10:08 PM
    I'm glad to such photos in magazines. It reinforces that not everyone has to be a size 2 with a bony look. Thanks to glamour, we're on our way. - 11/30/2009   5:51:46 AM
  • 206
    I think this is amazing! She's a total inspiration. It's nice to see someone so beautiful, yet average in a magazine like Glamour. We need to celebrate women like this more often. - 11/29/2009   10:58:25 AM
    Best part of this picture was how happy the model looked. We should all be so lucky to look that comfortable in our own skin. That's a HUGE step forward. - 10/27/2009   5:13:07 PM
  • 204
    I'd love to be that thin right now. You go girl. - 10/13/2009   5:30:02 AM
  • 203
    I SHOULD BE SO FAT! MY GOAL IS A SIZE 12! AND I'M 5'4"! - 10/10/2009   9:07:29 PM
  • 202
    She looks beautiful! I find that a beautiful and tasteful photograph -- celebrates the beauty of a human body without being overly sexualized. And yes -- that is what many women's bellies look like even when they are in shape. Even at age 19 when I was very thin, I had a little "roll" when I sat that way.

    My fiancÚ is a talented photographer and photo retoucher who used to work in the fashion industry. He knows exactly what hair/makeup, lighting, posing, and camera angle tricks are used, and exactly how much airbrushing is involved (lots). He knows that even the models don't look in real life like they look in the pictures. If you ever get a chance to watch someone work on a magazine or fashion shot, it's really eye-opening. They could have completely changed her belly and made it look totally flat, for example. And many women would have seen that and thought "Why can't I have a flat belly like her?" when the truth would have been, she doesn't have one.

    I think it's high time for more beautiful pictures of women's real bodies -- thin, fat, or in-between. - 10/10/2009   5:07:53 PM
  • 201
    It may be only one picture of one woman, but the fact that it exists at all is evidence of a growing trend. Our voices are being heard, and as we continue to show our support for more realistic images in magazines, they will continue to move in that direction. At least that's my hope.

    Did you know, that just recently a German magazine called "Brigitte" has stopped using models altogether? They are now only using images of real women. They are holding auditions for women from all walks of life to appear in the pages of their magazines - but no more stick-thin models. Here's the story:

    I applaud all the steps in this direction, big and small, they are all leading to healthier images of ourselves. - 10/10/2009   12:49:31 PM
    It may be a step in the right direction but lets face it she is still taller and thinner than average. Interesting that size 12 is below average but she works as a plus size model. It shows how distorted our body image has become.

    Yes, she looks great. I have seen far more Rubenesque women than her who also looked great. - 9/22/2009   11:14:24 AM
  • 199
    I am also pleased with the message that Drop Dead Diva is delivering. Though I do think that the start, Brooke Elliot probably needs to lose a few pounds, she is absolutely beautiful. Radient, even. It's nice to see how "Deb" reacts when the topic of weight is broached. Now if only there were a way to stick every Size 2 into a Size 12 body! - 9/15/2009   3:43:47 PM
  • 198
    Does anyone else feel that 'glamour is patting their backs a little too much. It was one tiny picture on page 194, and suddenly they are the magazine that is championing beauty in all sizes ? ... yet they continue to use size zero models in the rest of the magazine ... when they start showing different sizes in their regular fashion features and articles, then they can blow their own trumpet. featuring a size 12 ONLY in a body image article (and that too probably once a year) is really not much to jump around about.

    having said that, the model is gorgeous .... i didn't even get to the tummy, her smile had me captivated... i would kill to look like this! ... i have noticed a change in myself - previously i used to look at skinny models for weight loss inspiration, now i look at healthy and curvy size 10,12,14 etc. For me, now its not about having rock hard abs but about being fit, healthy and active. - 9/15/2009   12:48:53 AM
  • 197
    I am glad to see pictures like this: we have seen way too many pictures of women who are unhealthy and sick looking. It is a complex dynamic for them: the industry pressure, personal goals, monetary rewards for having 'the look' and a host of others. There is the other extreme which is not healthy either.

    But the problem ultimately rests with the rest of us. If we purchase mags (from Playboy to Vanity Fair) that parade women who are not typical, the problem will continue.The beginning is to cheer pictures like this and buy this issue to where it is out of stock and still in demand.....

    - 9/13/2009   9:36:16 PM
  • 196
  • 195
    I have to admit it gets under my skin when only certain women are lauded as "real." That is such an insult. Therefore, the "scrawny ones" aren't real? Sure, they are. Are their bodies easily attainable? Heck, no! But it doesn't make them any less real. - 9/13/2009   8:49:24 PM
  • 194
    I get tired of seeing super skinny models with flawless hair and skin in magazines. Seeing one that resembles the average woman is quite refreshing. - 9/13/2009   7:14:36 PM
  • 193
    Wow is all I can say. I never really understood why people complained about the lack of realistic women in the media, but frankly just seeing this ONE real woman show up in a magazine really made a difference for me. I think we are so used to seeing ONLY models that we forget what real people look like. Even now that I've lost a lot of weight I still think of myself as fat because I'll never look like the "skinny girls in magazines." But here is a woman who is not perfect, but rather who is REAL, and who is in Glamour Magazine not afraid to bare it all. - 9/4/2009   3:39:12 AM
    I'm a size 4/6 (in most clothing...we'll not get into a rant about womens sizing!!) and was shocked to see that the model is a size 12 and "plus size." the first thing I thought when I saw that photo is that she has the same shape & size as me. She is a lot taller...but...weird! Regardless, I wrote a happy letter to Glamour about this (I don't subscribe but saw the photo online) and hope this is a new trend, and that they will go on to feature even more body types and sizes in their magazine. It's not too revolutionary but it is certainly a start! - 9/3/2009   11:15:39 AM
  • 191
    It's about time because this woman is realistically like most other woman! - 9/3/2009   12:40:57 AM
  • 190
    Actually, Glamour has featured "real women" before and they have articles about loving your body the way it is. The problem is that they continue to use models that are wafer thin. Until they use "regular" women in their photo shoots, they are still saying "...yeah, but you SHOULD look like this". - 9/2/2009   7:18:09 AM
  • 189
    I'd love to see the clothing designer competition show really challenge the contestants. Give each of them someone my size (32) and make us look great. Anyone can make a size 4 look good. It takes real talent to work with a real plus size - I'm sorry, 16 is not "plus". Kids learn about fashion bias when they read "The Emperor's New Clothes". Back on the I Love Lucy show they went on a European tour and Ricky and Fred bought Lucy and Ethel "designer" outfits in Paris that were actually burlap sacks and canvas feed bags for hats. Suddenly women were walking around unashamed in burlap sacks because they thought they were fashionable.

    I'd settle for it not to be such a big deal when a model has a belly or that the First Lady has the arms to go sleeveless or the legs to wear shorts.
    - 9/1/2009   9:14:53 PM
  • 188
    Wonderful. I wish the model industry and women's wear industry would get the message that this is what real women look like and should look like. Instead, our daughters are being encourage to eat unhealthy in order to fit an unreal ideal. - 9/1/2009   7:06:48 PM
    I think it is a beautiful picture. She is very sexy even with a little belly. I get tired of seeing pictures of Heidi Klum after having babies and I think to myself, that woman is not the norm at all. It's important for girls and boys, men and women, to know that magazine photos of women or men with picture perfect bodies are not real life. Pictures of confidence and happiness are what we need to see. - 9/1/2009   12:36:49 PM
  • 186
    Wow, I guess I feel a lot differently than most of these prior comments. I saw the picture and thought it was pretty gross to have in a glamour magazine. Don't get me wrong she's beautiful, but we don't need to see her stomach hanging down. She should have had something draped over it. It still would have gotten across the point across. I like fitness & health magazines, ones that show women who are fit and in shape & have some muscle. I don't think we need to see naked size 12 women in unflattering positions. I know Lucky magazine is for larger/plus sized models. And it is refreshing to have bigger women seen in magazines, but they are standing tall, wearing flattering outfits, not all slouched over. Maybe a size 12 is 'avg' but I wouldn't say it's always healthy. This girl is 5'11" it's slightly different. Most women aren't that tall, and a size 12 on someone shorter may not be healthy at all. That is why I worked SO hard to lose the weight myself, and before any of you go biting my head of for not understanding, in fact I DO. I was a size 18 at my biggest and now a 4/6. So I DO understand what it's like to be big and out of shape and uncomfortable in my body. Actually after losing so much weight in certain positions my belly slouches over a little bit too but I sure wouldn't want it printed and sent out all over the world for everyone to see. In my opinion some things should be kept covered. Unless you got it, please don't flaunt it. This goes for the women that wear clothes that are wayyyyyyyy too tight as well. I've seen way too many. It may end up scaring me for life... haha

    PS. Obviously this doesn't refer to Sparkpeople and those of us posting our progress pics a long the way. I'm talking about magazines in general! - 9/1/2009   11:48:54 AM
  • 185
    When I got this issue of Glamour I was flipping through and saw her photo. I was immediately excited- finally a girl that looks like me! - 9/1/2009   10:18:46 AM
  • 184
    glad they finally figured it out that 12 is normal. No matter what size we are we are normal in my opinion. nudity is fine with me. she is not showing anymore than some of the tv shows you see now. she is covered where she needs to be, and her stomach is not hanging to her knees. - 9/1/2009   10:04:08 AM
    Three cheers for Glamour magazine. Two of the most beautiful women of the 20th Century were Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe......neither would be considered "slim" by present standards. Hopefully, in the near future, Glamour will also lead the way by showing clothes worn by various sizes (and ages) of healthy-looking women. Thank you!
    - 9/1/2009   2:41:12 AM
  • 182
    How fabulous! I was raised in a house where you loved your body (I forgot that as I got my prob...LOL) and am amazed when I meet people who are upset about their bodies because they are a size 8 and what to be a 6, etc. I usually end up reminding them that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 at the height of her career. Finally, we have a Marilyn for our generation. - 8/31/2009   10:58:11 PM
  • 181
    How fabulous! I was raised in a house where you loved your body (I forgot that as I got my prob...LOL) and am amazed when I meet people who are upset about their bodies because they are a size 8 and what to be a 6, etc. I usually end up reminding them that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 at the height of her career. Finally, we have a Marilyn for our generation. - 8/31/2009   10:58:10 PM
  • 180
    Oh I should only be that normal!! - 8/31/2009   9:28:44 PM
    I've seen a lot of discussion on exercise forums about this and while I personally feel the photo is excellent and she is a lovely young woman, I don't see what all the furor is about that she is full of courage for daring to show her "real" self. She's a model, that is what she does.

    I get offended by the "real" woman thing also. I'm a size 4 who used to weigh more than 200 pounds. I am real either way. I worked very hard to not weigh what I did and I am healthier now than I was and my stomach is by and large flat and toned and I was NOT created for the purposes of having babies, I was created as a human being and human beings come in all shapes and sizes.

    Again, I think she is beautiful and it is a beautiful photo but where does all this "real" rhetoric come from. We are all real. - 8/31/2009   8:56:42 PM
    I didn't even know that picture was in that magazine until I heard my fiance yell from across the room..."What the F***?!!" I thought they had put something disgusting or weird in the magazine, but as I came to find out, all of his clamor was just over a normal sized woman!!!

    I guess it caught him by surprise, just as it did the rest of us, but I got really frustrated at the fact that he was grossed out. I explained to him that all Glamour was trying to do was photograph a woman without all of the photoshop involved. He said that he understood but didn't know why they would do that. That day made me realize how little progress women have made when it comes to the beauty/fashion industry. I'm glad that this picture was a step in the right direction but it is going to have to take MANY more of these brave souls to show their body just like it is.

    As for my fiance, lets just say he learned a lesson that day lol. - 8/31/2009   6:01:43 PM
  • 177
    I saw the model being interviewed on local tv via sattelite and she has an amazing smile and what i call a normal body that I would not mind having . Thanks Glamour magazine, now I don't feel so bad about myself and can easily aspire to get back to a size 12/14. - 8/31/2009   5:16:10 PM
  • 176
    If Glamour ran more photos like that, I might actually start reading it again.
    That has got to be the most radiant smile I've ever seen! So genuine. - 8/31/2009   4:45:52 PM
    The point is this: EVERY"BODY" IS EQUALLY PHOTO-WORTHY! - 8/31/2009   4:41:35 PM
  • 174
    Okay, gotta comment and I KNOW I am gonna irritate some people here. To all you skinny people who are feeling like we are saying you are not normal because you are less than size 12...please! Size 2 is normal, size 10 is normal, size 16 is normal and a size 22 is normal.

    I would be willing to bet, however, that none of you have ever had the following happen to you:

    forced to buy 2 airline seats because one just doesn't cut it

    have to take a table with a chair (a hard one at that) in a restuarant because you can't fit at a booth

    cant find a cute bathing suit

    can't find cute clothing

    have been turned down from a job because you "don't fit" in a cubicle

    Are forced to take a shower because you cannot get in or out of a bath tub

    have been denied health care coverage until you can get to a "decent" weight

    have to fight demons to stay away from food you love but just cannot have because of what it can do to you health-wise

    You see, us overweight people have been fighting to be treated "normal" for quite some time. To have a woman, saggy belly and all, pose in a magazine and be labeled normal is a major coup for us! So you don't like her naked, or like her saggy little belly, or any number of things. Don't look! - 8/31/2009   4:03:05 PM
  • 173
    I love what Glamour has done here!

    HOWEVER, I object to the use of the term "normal" in reference to women who are size 12. This implies that women under (or over!) that size are abnormal. The point is not that she's great because she's bigger: she is great because she KNOWS she is beautiful despite everything that the media is telling us. All women's bodies are beautiful and it's time to stop demonizing smaller bodies because they are "real" women, too. - 8/31/2009   2:50:43 PM
  • 172
    Women all have soft bellies. We were made to carry babies and that does not mesh well with having 0% body fat and rock-hard abs. I'm not saying that all we CAN do is have babies, ladies. I'm saying that's what our bodies were CREATED to do. So our genes are hard-wired to have that place to rock our babies and protect them from any harm with the fat around our bellies. It's genetic...we're talking millions of years of genes here, folks. It's not like we are going to change our DNA with a gym membership.

    That's not to say that very slim and fit women are not as fit to bear children. (I am sure to offend someone here, I know it, though not intentionally.) But before we had such good medicine, it was the sturdy, hearty women who bore children, and the survival of the fittest meant the skinny and sickly women died in childbirth. When you look at paintings of Renoir and the Renaissance, the women are curvy, round, and lush. The idea of "thin equals healthy" didn't come around until the mid-1900s. Before that, having thin children was a sign of poverty in this country. I'm not saying it's right; I'm just stating facts.

    Oh, just for the record, I'm 44, 5'6" and weigh 160 pounds. I'm a size 10/12, and I don't consider myself obese. Also, if I were to pose like Lizzi, I'd definitely have a pooch, too, even though I've had 5 pounds of extra skin removed (essentially, a tummy tuck) after losing 240 pounds! I think Lizzi looks beautiful, especially the smile on her face, which the photographer obviously caught in a moment of complete relaxation and happiness. Great article! - 8/31/2009   2:16:26 PM
  • 171
    Whether we are comfortable or not with HOW our bodies look has very little (if anything) to do with the actual look of our bodies. It is what's between our ears that makes the difference. - 8/31/2009   12:23:46 PM
  • 170
    Thumbs up to Glamour... can't wait to see more mags follow suit! - 8/31/2009   12:07:43 PM
  • 169
    I think the main focus of the article is NOT whether one is "fat", "thin", "plus-size" or any other label. The point is that this woman is happy with her body even though it doesn't fit the fashion industry's idea of "beauty". We should all be so lucky as to have the healthy body image that she has. - 8/31/2009   11:55:36 AM
  • 168
    The truth is out. This almost made me feel like I have already reached my goal weight, but not really. We are not all Heidi's. - 8/31/2009   11:37:54 AM
  • 167
    Yikes what a range of comments is right. Wonder why some people take some of the comments personally? And others were offended by the picture when you can watch television for 5 minutes and see worst than the picture itself. Personally the picture does not bother me and I thought the article itself was good. My first thought when I saw the picture was "well it's not just me!"....that's how my tummy looks and I'm a solid size 6 at 133 lbs! And I don't think her stomach looks like its hanging down to her knees as one person wrote. I guess everyone has their own opinion. Do I wish my tummy was firmer and flatter? Well sure I do - but if it never changes, so be it. I try to make the best of what God has given me. And yes I do have moments - like we all do - but overcoming those moments are awesome. I sometimes think how boring it would be if we were all "perfect". - 8/31/2009   11:10:59 AM
  • 166
    Women are suppose to have rounded bellies. Nudity is not digusting. In a inappropiate enviromen bing nude is absolutely acceptable. the woman is a belly dancer so what is construed as "rolls", well that is relative what "rolling" :=)

    Glamor doing this is commended but yes to answer the question, yes, it is tokenism. Yes a step. Here's hoping it becomes the norm, not tokenism, but seeing a variety of women in all the ranges of sizes!

    I will say for the record, I've not taken magazines projection of the "model" or standard for how I should look otherwise my goose would have been cooked a long timee ago! - 8/31/2009   11:09:05 AM
    My hat off to the woman and any one who is healthy and loves the body they have. Come on people, size zero, the clothing people are just after ego's, not the real world that is full of curves.
    Thank God were not all the some are the world would be a very sad place. No choices on what, are who we wish to be. - 8/31/2009   10:23:50 AM
  • 164
    fabulous to see a woman brave enough to be real! - 8/30/2009   11:29:15 PM
  • 163
    Perhaps showing someone in the nude (though her naughty bits are covered) is not everyone's cup of tea, but I personally dont' think it's disgusting, it's kind of pretty. God gave us our bodies in all sizes... and it's good to see that at least one tiny step has been made to combat all of the continual bombardment of the ultra-thin in magazines. Oh, and everyone has a bit of a tummy. I don't see anything draping to her knees.

    Kindness begins with each of us, lets find the good in this, and with each other.

    - 8/30/2009   10:27:15 PM
    I think the picture is disgusting! I don't enjoy looking at anyone's nude or almost nude body, no matter what size it is! Why can't we see someone dressed in normal clothing who loves her body? If she's size 12 and 20 why does her belly look like it's sagging over her legs? - 8/30/2009   8:03:11 PM
    I think that is a beautiful picture of a joyous young woman who does not look "plus sized" to me at all. (And I wear a size 0).

    I wish I had learned to love my body when I was that young; I do now, and only as a result of working out and realizing that being skinny and flabby was just as unhealthy as weighing 300 lbs. I dont care what the media or what other people consider to be the 'body to die for'.

    As long as my annual CBC and metabolic blood tests all come back in the normal range, my cholesterol ratio is 1.6, and my resting pulse hs dropped from a horrible Type A personality of 90 to 62, I am happy.

    I ha ve been on both sides of the fence, and I can personally guarantee that being too thin is just, if not more, dangerous than being overweight. Being HEALTHY is what matters most, regardless of what the scale says.

    - 8/30/2009   6:08:09 PM

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