New feature: Some body to love

Forget which body-shape is ‘fashionable’ – women are more than just their bodies, argues Lara Williams

Beth Ditto's Love Magazine coverBeth Ditto’s appearance on the cover of the inaugural issue of Love Magazine’s – Condé Nast’s latest trendy publication – has prompted the inevitable deluge of headlines declaring curvy women to be back. But before you swap your South Beach diet for some Southern fried chicken – consider the evidence.

Yes, Kate Winslet looked recently ravishing in all her buxom glory at this year’s Golden Globes. But she did at the 1997 Oscars (just after Titanic came out). And again at the 2004 premier of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. All outings dutifully prompted a carousel of headlines asserting the resurgence of the curvier female form. Except that didn’t happen, did it? Just as music publications with predictable regularity run features on a revival of ‘women in rock’, women’s titles have a propensity to occasionally proclaim a revival of female celebrities weighing more than their handbags. They probably think they’re doing us a favour. Similarly to the aforementioned ‘women in rock’ pieces unintentionally suggesting women in rock are a sort of peculiarity, an anomaly, so do ‘curvy celebrity’ headlines relegate heavier celebs to the status of something quite absurd. Almost as patronising as being told “men prefer a bit of something to grab hold of”. (Do they really?! I must EAT.)

Mimi Spencer’s recent feature in The Guardian, headlined “The end of thin”, wrote of a “seismic shift” – in attitudes to the very thin – citing stylist Rachel Zoe’s evangelicals (LiLo, the Olsen twins, Nicole Ritchie) as looking curiously outdated. Consequently, Mimi argues the obsession with thin has reached its apex and it is time we re-embrace our “curvy selves”. But it’s not an obsession with thin. It’s an obsession with bodies. Specifically, female bodies. And articles lauding plus-sized women are every bit as damaging as those which glorify the very thin. Whether positive or negative, it is still part of the incessant accentuation and examination of women’s bodies.

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