Y’All Say ‘Empowerment!’ Because There’s A Plus Size Woman in Sports Illustrated and I’m Over Here Like Ehhhh…
On the one hand I’m like: WOOHOO! PLUS SIZE! NORMALISING BEAUTIFUL BIG BODIES! AUSSIE MODEL! COVER! EQUAL REPRESENTATION! YEAH!
And then on the other hand I’m like: Sports Illustrated is pretty much soft core porn for amped up/wanna be jocks to ogle at under the pretence of ‘valuing the articles’.
So you see my predicament?
There’s been a lot of positive feedback about it which, believe me, is encouraging and a good sign. But in amongst all that excitement and good vibes, there’s a little niggle at the back of my mind.
And that little niggle is getting louder and louder and harder and harder to ignore.
Whilst we may – nay, should – celebrate the normalising of bigger, beautiful bodies, I think we need to be cautious and careful.
As a wise woman once said, ‘Who wants a twig when you can climb the whole tree?’
As another woman said, ‘I’m bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that!’
And as a wise man once said, ‘My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hon!’
Whilst these poets have woven words of praise of the bootylicious kind, there’s another theme working.
If I’m a bigger girl, not only am I beautiful and perfect from the bottom to the top (DAMN FUCKING STRAIGHT), but I’m a tree for a guy to climb. I should look down on skinny girls. And I should be excited about a guy getting a boner over my superb ass (super bass, anyone?).
So seeing the lovely, voluptuous Robyn Lawley (of the cookbook Robyn Lawley Eats) on the front cover of Sports Illustrated should not only stir my patriotic pride, but make me happy, because now more of society (i.e. heterosexual men) will see me as sexy and an acceptable shape, with bigger boobs and ass than most models.
Do you see what’s wrong here?
Those getting excited and jumping up and celebrating this for the right reasons are ignoring the big, fat (bad choice of words, sorry) reason that’s been niggling at me.
Putting plus size women on the cover of a magazine aimed at interesting and enticing primarily heterosexual men doesn’t seem like a step forward, and not even a step back, but staying on the exact same step we were on to begin with.
Praising women for their curves and their bodies is a positive thing, and it makes me sad that something that should be empowering, and exciting, is being marred by the fact that this is in fact just another mag for boys to fap to when they’re home alone.
I feel like when people ask me about this, and what I think, I can’t give them an honest answer. Of all people I’m the loudest when it comes to body positivity and feeling good about the skin you’re in – I run a beauty blog, I work retail, I value personal presentation, All About That Bass, Anaconda, Bootylicious, ***Flawless and Pretty Hurts are my JAMS. I freakin’ love Hairspray and Tracy Turnblad.
But I don’t feel good about this. I don’t feel good about seeing a perfectly beautiful, wonderful girl on the cover of a magazine aimed at men, with the express intention of getting men to view people with her body shape as beautiful and normal, and arousing. I don’t like that to get women with similar bodies to hers – to mine – to seem normal and average to the general public, they need to be sexy to men.
Kim Kardashian broke the internet, Beyoncé’s body is too bootylicious for ya, Robyn Lawley eats and Rebel Wilson is a bloody ripper, but do you think any of them would have half the success they do if they weren’t sexually appealing? Probably not, and that is frustrating because they are sexy but that shouldn’t be the reason they succeed!
So here I am, raging within myself between If bigger girls want to do bikini modelling and express their sexuality in that way and be on the covers of those magazines that’s awesome for them and I do absolutely support them and WHY THE FUCKING GODDAMN HELL DOES THIS SOCIETY NEED WOMEN TO BE SEXY, APPEALING TO AND OBJECTIFIED BY MEN IN ORDER TO BE VALUED?!!
I feel shitty and judgemental for wishing Robyn was on the cover of American Vogue instead, but, that’s still how I feel. And I worry about what this does for bigger girls, and younger bigger girls – suddenly you don’t need to be size four and slender with small breasts and wide hips to be sexy, BUT, you still need to be sexy. There’s still a pressure to appeal to men on a sexual level, there’s still the pressure to be alluring and sultry, and there’s still a pressure to not be something ‘bony [cos] he wants something he can grab’.
‘Boys want a little more booty to hold at night’, and unfortunately it’s my larger ass (and boobs) they’re going to want to grab, apparently. And I don’t even want to touch the fact that it’s still a Caucasian woman on the cover, not because I don’t think it’s important – it is very important – but because I don’t feel like I’m equipped, or the right person, to comment on that.
Everyone’s all like ‘Empowerment! Change! All bodies are beautiful!’ and I’m over here like,
WE CAN’T FUCKING WIN. EITHER WAY WE HAVE TO BE SEXY AND MEASURE UP TO WESTERN BEAUTY STANDARDS. IT’S STILL ALL FUCKING BULLSHIT.
…But Robyn you still look lovely, and congrats xoxo
Bronte is an Arts student about to finish a Bachelor degree majoring in all things literature and all things ancient and awesome. Currently working in the fashion game helping girls and women find outfits that make them feel amazing. Aspiring ancient worlds’ expert/literature professor/author/stylist/Labrador. A big fan of The Killers, Shakespeare, Homer, Keats, Blake and Rowling; will go to great lengths theorising the Harry Potter series if allowed.