Plus sized Model graces Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue…. in an AD

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So Sports Illustrated is including a  plus sized woman in their swimsuit issue.I know that all the “normal women” (like the ones with two arms and two legs) are supposed to be jumping up and down as our various parts giggle upon landing, grateful to be included in this annual homage to the sexualization of the female body, no matter how sleight that form might be, but I have a bone to pick (it could be a jutting hipbone, or protruding rib). Not to burst the “Congratulations” balloons or anything, but curvy model Ashely Graham is not a SI model, she is the model for   the swimsuitsforall campaign, #CurvesinBikinis. She is featured in an advertisement not the editorial spread. There is a big difference- like the difference between my thigh and  Candace Swanpole’s. I find the idea that media outlets are promoting the appearance of a full figured woman on a “advertisement” as a part of the actual swimsuit editorial is just false. It is a LIE, she is not included along side the likes of Benhati Prinsloo, Chrissy Teigen, Heidi Klum, Adirana Lima. She will be along side the likes of  deodorant, car and aftershave ads. To promote this “move” as Sports Illustrated taking a forward step to righting the warped image of the female form in the media,by making their swim suit issue inclusive on some level is untrue. What it means is that some genius in the the #CurvesinBikinis marketing department realized that they could capitalized on the lack of, nay the absence body diversity in the legendary issue and thought “. This is a perfect opportunity for us to get ALOT of coverage, because it has NEVER been done!”

It’s important that I stress that I don’t mean to take anything away from Ashley Graham or the swimsuitsforall campaign, I think that they are both amazing and are part of the healing that needs to happen for women, and our images in the media, what I am trying to point out is that this “Bold” and “Daring” act of putting a woman who has meat on her bones in the swimsuit issue is not, and did not come from Sports Illustrated, nor is she IN the editorial. So the real question is, do you think that Sports illustrated is making a bold move by accepting money to run an ad featuring a plus size woman?  To me it is akin to Monster Truck magazine running an ad for a Prius. #cashruleseverythingaroundme.

I am so sick and tired of the misappropriation, co-opting  and the contradictory circular conversation that has become the “Body Image” dialogue. I am tired of the faddish jargon that surrounds it that starts to become like white noise, conflating the real issues and deadening the nerve endings of the problem. I feel like the body image crisis has now been in circulation long enough for its commodification. Ladies, our desire for healing is being sold back to us by the people who infected us in the first place.

It happens to the best of issues. Think about what happened with bullying. Here we have children being physically and cyber bullied to the degree that some have felt the only way out was suicide, and it becomes a hot topic as it should, it’s a very real and serious problem that national news outlets and media should pick up and run with. Flash forward to grown ass, drunk ass women on reality series pulling out the “I was systematically bullied” card. Suddenly it becomes the go to declaration when some is confronting you and you don’t like it. News flash, Truth telling is not bullying…These reality stars, as a grown woman (most of whom are mothers) all had the power to: use their words, walk away from situations, they could in fact not instigate situations that turn against them, and then call the aftermath bullying. I guess what I am saying is that they could act like adults, or at least take the advice they would give their children instead of reducing themselves to finger pointing adolescences while throwing around incendiary terms  for entertainment. The result is that is dilutes the issue and the seriousness of bullying when it is real.

Over the last year I feel like the body image subject has built a bandwagon with all sorts of people who may or may not struggle with it, or even give a real damn hopping on. In September 2012 when Lady Gaga got blasted for gaining weight she started the Born This Way  Foundation that in it’s own words  “Is committed to supporting the wellness of young people, and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world. We achieve this by shining a light on real people, quality research and authentic partnerships.” Um I just went to the site and it’s still under construction. I suppose that’s because she lost the weigh got praised for it was past the issue,… Daily, celebrities use hot topic issues to deflect or direct attention, and this simply dilutes the cause. Then I have problems with the new terms  coined that are bandied about when convenient, like the term “Fat Shaming”. I have such conflicted feelings about this term, not because it doesn’t exist, but mainly because I think that it is often subject to overuse and abuse. When is something just a comment? and when is it “shaming”?.

There are instances when a comment could have been blown of and chalked up to a person’s simple ignorance, but instead it gets is blown up and labeled as “Fat Shaming” which at times I feel results in a form of reverse shaming, and shunning “You shouldn’t use words like that! Shame on you!” I just see that spoiled manipulative kid hiding behind the leg of an adult sniggering as they watch another child get in trouble. I’m not saying that “fat shaming” does not happen, however I do think there is a difference from calling someone fat, or saying that they gained weight, and making them feel less than about it. I know you can’t believe I wrote that, but I see it like this: you can call me black, that is fine, I am, now if you are trying to make me feel less then because I’m black, well that is another matter. you might think that this is splitting hairs, but I feel like becoming hypersensitive does not promote healing, strength and self empowerment.

We have a long way to go and lately I feel like the road is congested with folks who are not so much interested in getting to the destination as they are with enjoying the ride and site seeing. Personally I moving over into the passing lane and I’m gunning it. I’ll see you when you get there.

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