The latest issue of women’s magazine Cosmopolitan UK has been causing quite a stir, with plus-sized model Tess Holliday storming the cover in a gorgeous emerald body suit, sultry auburn hair and kick-ass tattoos. She looks fantastic, but the main talking point of her photoshoot has, of course, been her size.
That’s not unexpected; this month’s Cosmo is deliberately provocative, to show that a plus-sized model has as much a place in our fashion mags as anyone else and to get us talking about it. But what has really sparked a social media storm is this: do models like Tess are glorify obesity? Take this tweet from the
infuriating obnoxious irritating television presenter Piers Morgan:
Sorry, but 5ft 3in & 300lbs is NOT a ‘positive body image’ to celebrate on the front cover of a magazine as Britain suffers from an ever-worsening obesity crisis. @GMB pic.twitter.com/CwvOQtsOrA
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 3, 2018
Let’s get one thing straight: magazine covers like this won’t make anyone want to be obese. Sure, Tess looks freakin’ incredible but, even so, this is highly unlikely to make anyone think, “oh gosh, I’d really LOVE to be overweight!”
And there’s a very simple reason for that. We, as a society, totally snub plus-sized women. The name calling and bullying, the feeling of shame, the being looked down upon, the assumptions (lazy, greedy, poor hygiene, etc.), being deemed unattractive, unwanted and undesirable… who in their right mind would voluntarily sign up for all that?!
As Stephanie Yeboah and Jameela Jamil both point out, larger men with “plus-sized” figures have been featured time and time again on magazine covers, but not once is that up for discussion. No-one questions if they’re unhealthy role models for young people, people aren’t up in arms about them glorying obesity. Is it only women for whom being overweight is bad? Are obese men somehow exempt from the obesity crisis? Once again, we’re left with one rule for men and another for women.
Hello all the people still upset over the @CosmopolitanUK cover, where was the outrage when these covers went live? Why are we not discussing the health of these plus size men? Where is that same energy? Answers on a postcard.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait. pic.twitter.com/WZChbrpD82
— Stephanie Yeboah (@NerdAboutTown) September 4, 2018
It’s amazing that when we see curvaceous famous men on magazine covers, nobody says anything about the “damage” they are doing to society…because they don’t. And curvaceous women don’t either. And yet the internet “breaks” over whether we should “allow” larger women to. 😞 pic.twitter.com/Ru2OUFdEzw
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) September 4, 2018
Tess’ Cosmo cover isn’t telling people to go put on weight, or that being overweight is aspirational. It’s showing the world that other bodies do exist, and they deserve love and attention too. It doesn’t say that anyone should be this weight, it just says that every body is beautiful. It’s meant to make us feel good, feel like we can love ourselves instead of putting ourselves – and our bodies – down. It’s body positivity, and lord knows we could do with more of that!