Look at this image of model Kate Upton and consider this: what is normal? What is ‘real’? Because to me, she is neither. Kate Upton is thin. So why are people calling her fat?
Now there was a time, probably circa 2009, when Kate Upton would have been immune to such scrutiny. As a size 8, she was aspirationally proportioned. Thin, in most people’s books, or ‘hot’ in my boyfriend’s. But now, as the plus-sized model debate continues apace, she has become the subject of a rather hateful slew of blog debates over her figure.
One, appropriately titled ‘Skinny Gossip’, was at the centre of the furore saying: ‘She looks like a squishy brick. Is this what American women are 'striving' for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for?’
Ouch. Now consider this: while Skinny Gossip is hardly a worthy yardstick for positive body image (its creator writes ‘I’m 5’7″’ and ‘around 100 lbs’ in her bio such is its importance) that it’s even become a ‘thing’ is unnerving. Even Kate, who eats burgers (and is photographed doing so), has boobs and a rather fetching curve to her figure, isn’t normal. She isn’t even average. She’s slim, thin even. And a thumb through the recent issue of American GQ proves it. Since when did a size 8 fall into the ‘real woman’ category, let alone be classed as fat?
When the plus-sized debate first came to fruition a few years ago – when Vogue Italia put larger models on the cover, and Crystal Renn (then a size 12-14) was a regular on the catwalk – there seemed to be a discernible difference between catwalk models, Victoria’s Secret models and the plus-sized models. Few of us felt comfortable to comment on what those differences were, but casting Kate Upton into the category of ‘plus-sized’ models wouldn’t have happened.
So what’s changed? Have we got thinner? Has our idea of what is normal, real or big changed so dramatically? Are we going through a Size-volution in which a size 8 is now normal and a size 4 is aspirational? It beggars belief but as long as this narrow-minded beauty ideal exists, we’re all doomed to being objectified by the likes of Skinny Gossip.