The TRUTH About Super-Skinny Models in Magazines

From Glamour magazines September 2009 issue

Glamour, Sept. '09

You’ve probably heard by now of the huge, positive hub-bub created by a picture of a gorgeous size 12-14 model in Glamour‘s September issue. Editor in chief Cindi Leive has since laid bare some truths behind WHY the models in fashion spreads and on the runway are usually So.Damn.Skinny. This is industry info that usually only insiders know-and she put it out there in a recent post on

…why don’t you see more “plus” models in fashion stories?
Well, lots of reasons, but partly because the clothes are so flippin’ small. The “samples” we borrow for shoots are generally cut to fit a size zero-to-four frame. (If we just went out and bought bigger sizes from the store, those styles would be off the racks and unbuyable by the time you saw them in Glamour.) Why do designers cut so tiny? Beats me, but Glamour plans to cheer on those who work with us in glamorizing women of all sizes from now on. It’s not always easy for them: When designer Mark Fast recently put three size 10-ish models on his London runway last week (all looking highly hot), two of his top creative people reportedly quit in protest. Whatever! Mark’s apparently going on to do a line for Topshop. Happy ending.

If designers start sewing larger sample sizes, it will affect more than just the types of models you see in fashion magazines: At a CFDA event I went to a couple of years ago, Michael Kors was talking about how celebs starve themselves so that they can wear big-name designer samples on the red carpet (for free). Kors was pretty passionate about the whole thing and said that if designers started making samples that were more-varied in size, it would discourage Hollywood celebrities from dieting down to unnaturally skinny weights, and in turn, help make regular women feel more…normal.

Insider honesty-it’s the new black. Monday’s post: Do I think skinny models and celebs cause eating disorders? No, and I’ll tell you why.

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2 Responses to The TRUTH About Super-Skinny Models in Magazines

  1. Sunny, I applaud what you and Glamour are doing here. As the mom of a 13-year-old girl (and as Shape magazine’s 2007 Weight-Loss Diary columnist), I can speak first-hand to the importance of teaching our daughters (and ourselves, for that matter) that the images of “perfection” that we see in magazines are indeed just images.

    My daughter appeared with me in the pages of Shape and that whole experience — hair, make-up, styling — was a great opportunity for her to see for herself exactly what goes into the images we see in magazines. I wrote about it in my book, “You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies — Even When We Don’t Love Our Own.” I wish all girls could see what a photo shoot is really like — and that doesn’t even take into account any re-touching that’s done after the shoot is over.

    More importantly, I love that Glamour has committed to showing that beautiful women come in many different shapes and sizes. That, I think, is the best lesson we moms can teach our girls: That the most beautiful “them” is the healthiest, most confident version of themselves. It’s time for clothing designers to understand that, too.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.