Nick Page

Plus-size role models

As a father of three girls, we often have conversations about glamour and looks and fashion. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a limited knowledge of these subjects, but my concern is always to make sure that my girls have the right role models, which is not the twiglet-thin, ‘no I couldn’t possibly eat another piece of lettuce’, stick-insect-aliens on the covers of the magazines.

It’s not just the idea that ‘looks are the only thing that matter’,’which needs to be challenged, it’s actually the lies of the images themselves. Girls are not comparing themselves to other, glamorous women, but to other, glamorous women as worked on by stylists, hairdressers and the entire magazine art department. Here’s a great advert by Dove which shows this only too well:

Uprooting this distorted view of what is ‘normal’ takes time. You have to plant seeds. There have been stories in the last week of controversy at London Fashion week over the use of ‘plus-size’ models in one show. (The ‘Stylist’ who quit argued that the problem was that the girls ‘did not have the right walk’. What were they doing, hopping?) Certainly it’s a start, but the stories rather gloss over the fact that this was just about three size-12 models in one of 59 shows. And how come models who are absolutely normal are referred to as ‘plus-size’? I don’t call that a revolution.

So here’s a post about a real revolutionary and a real heroine. Wangari Maathai is someone who I first read about fifteen years ago and who literally plants seeds. She’s still active, still fighting and still making a difference: Wangari Maathai – Can one woman save Africa?

Need a female role model? She’s a plus-sized one.