'Sports Illustrated's Plus-Size Models Won't Stop Us From Hating Our Bodies​

By now, you may have heard all the hoopla about two beautiful models—Ashley Graham and Robyn Lawley—who are making their debuts as the very first plus-size models to appear in this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. While many folks hail this as a remarkable step forward for women everywhere, particularly those who aren't a size 2, here are all of the reasons why this represents nothing more than two pretty young women posing in bikinis on the beach.

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For anyone who is unfamiliar with the swimsuit magazine, it comes out each year and has pretty much been responsible for making icons out of beauties like Chrissy Teigen and Heidi Klum. Nearly all of the models in the mag look the same, give or take a bra size or two. Their ages range from late teens to mid-30s (Cheryl Tiegs posed at age 42 and I do believe the Earth stopped spinning on its axis that day). Some are African-American, though the vast majority are Caucasian. I think I can count on one hand the number of models who are pale.

There's nothing wrong with a magazine that caters to a specific demographic of men who want to ogle a specific type of woman who has a specific body type. Magazines would never make a dime in profit if they threw the kitchen sink into every issue in an effort to appeal to everyone.

So, when SI decided to take a "bold" step forward and put hot Graham in the hot bikini you see in the top photo and Lawley (size 12, in case you think I accidentally uploaded the wrong photo here) in this bikini, well, you'll have to forgive me for finding the whole thing a bit disingenuous.

I can't help but picture the marketing meeting that took place months before casting these models—the one where a few smart people realized this would create just enough of a stir to sell a few more magazines. But I'm not knocking SI executives for their business decision—hey, it's working!

I am going to say we should all see this for what it is: two gorgeous, slightly larger girls wearing bikinis. This isn't an example of feminism. This isn't going to "cure" women of anorexia and bulimia. And I'm pretty sure it won't stop plus-size women from feeling bad about their bodies, the same way it didn't stop me, a size 4 woman, from feeling bad about my body when I grew up with images of Elle Macpherson dancing in my head.

Here's a snippet of the running dialogue that went through my head at age 14: okay, I'm skinny. But I'm not 6 feet. Beautiful women are at least 5-foot-10. God, my breasts are fine, I guess, but they aren't a C-cup. How do they get them to stick together like that and create cleavage? Are mine supposed to do that?

I'm going to take an educated guess here and say that all plus-size women don't see themselves in Graham. Hell, most size 4 women don't see themselves in Lawley, if we're being honest. Some have larger chests, some smaller, and some don't have that lovely waist-to-hip ratio that supposedly makes a woman "curvy." Graham and Lawley don't represent the average plus-size woman any more than Gisele Bundchen represents your average, thin 34-year-old mother of two children.

More from The Stir: Plus-Size Model Ashley Graham Rocks Teeny Bikini in 'SI' Swimsuit Issue (PHOTOS)

I apologize for sounding like a sour apple. This isn't a knock against Graham or Lawley, both of whom I think look gorgeous in their photos and who I hope capitalize big time on this success. But can we all stop creating meaning where it doesn't exist? As a male friend of mine very honestly shared when I asked his thoughts about Graham's and Lawley's appearances: "Big tits."

Exactly.

Do you think these models' photos in SI signify a step forward for plus-size women?

 

Images via theashleygraham/Instagram; robynlawley/Twitter

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