Monday, October 08, 2007

A Relative Plus Size

As you can clearly see from the photo above, America's Next Top Model has again included a plus-sized model in its cast for cycle 9.

Which one is she, you ask? C'mon. . . It's Sarah!

Here's Sarah during her rock-climbing shoot. Tyra? Are you there? The only thing plus-sized about this woman are her heels!

Kinda makes you just want to throw your hands up and surrender. . . But then, along comes Dove, with its latest marketing campaign:



Emily said...

I love the new Dove ad. I saw it about a week ago, I think and it's beautiful.

And I'm not even going to get into my ANTM plus-sized rant.

Fi Fo Fum said...

Erm...PLUS-size??!!! GOSH if she's PLUS then i'm a mountain of fat!

Luckily we've got dove...only pity is, in my country we've got this nice, sensible dove-campaigns strutting along, leaving us with a warm, fuzzy feeling...and THEN we're bombarded with the next ad in the line-up...of some "slimming" herby water: They've got a shot of this huge wedding cake with a plastice bride and groom on top...then the icing starts cracking Ice Age-style underneath the "plus-sized"-bride's feet, and keeps on cracking until she disappears into the depths of the cake with the poor groom looking on in horror. (Being made of plastic, he cannot do much to save her.)

Sorry for being long-winded. Point being: Dove's got a lot of patching and catching-up to do!

sandi said...

I adore those Dove ads. I posted this one in my blog earlier this week.

And Plus size? please. That's just one more reason not to watch those shows....

Zmama75 said...

Love the Dove ad as well. I know they're not the perfect company but these ads are reaching so many girls (and boys!).

And that is hysterical (a sad hysterical) that model is considered plus-sized.

Rachel said...

Finding the plus-size model in that photo is like playing Where's Waldo.

Goes to show how distorted our perceptions of body weight really are when an average-sized woman is now considered plus-size. What's even sadder is that ANTM's "plus-sized" model contestant is thinner than probably more than 85% of the American female population.

Crayons said...

I happened upon your blog via a fitness blog. I really like seeing blogs that go beyond the mundane and the personal. This is an example of a solid education put to good use. I'm so impressed.

That Dove ad is brilliant. I'm 48 now, but it brought me right back to age 12 when I read my first fashion magazine. I cut out photos of women's bodies and compared my own chubby body to theirs. The feeling of shame has never quite left me.

RunningRose said...

The plus size models on ANTM beforehand have been much heavier than this girl...she looks PERFECT to me and no where near "plus size".

I think they should have all normal bodied gals as models and then have plus size and mini size models...

violet_yoshi said...

LoL, I was all like "Where is she where is she?!" looking at the picture. This after playing one of those hidden object games too.

sue said...

I've been reading your blog posts for several months. Your title "Every Woman Has an Eating Disorder" intrigued me, because I know many women who have gastrointestinal diseases (like Celiac, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, etc.) which affect their body shape, weight as well as their eating experiences. Celiac disease, which affects at least 1% of Americans, gluten intolerance, which affects another 30%, and food allergies cause gastrointestinal symptoms (often labeled 'IBS') which make patients feel bloated, have excruciating intestinal cramps and experience other embarassing problems.

For many years while I was thin, I 'felt' fat when my body reacted to food allergens with bloating and cramping. Of course I 'felt' thin when I don't have those symptoms. I took many years to realize that I never was 'fat', although I was 'chubby' from ages 7-10. Nevertheless my mom and other members of my family considered me 'fat' because I had a bloated tummy, almost always after meals, when I ate foods which were undiagnosed allergens for me. So I associated gastrointestinal bloat with 'being fat' for many years before I was diagnosed with celiac disease and related food allergies.

I wonder how many other women with gastrointestinal diseases develop distorted body images, because they have long undiagnosed or misdiagnosed symptoms. Most celiacs in this country wait an average 11 years for a correct diagnosis, after first talking to a doctor about their symptoms. I wish the medical community were more aware of CD 50 years ago when I believed I was a fat kid with a big stomach, rather than a normal sized, undiagnosed celiac with a bloated stomach.

I know several celiacs, like me, who struggled with eating disordered behavior before their CD diagnosis. The myth that only 'women with flat stomachs are beautiful' not only discriminates against normal weight women, but also sends the wrong message to young girls and women with gastrointestinal diseases.

Charlynn said...

Please keep in mind that Dove is still selling the masses its products, and beauty products at that. Regardless of the approach, that's still what they're doing.

As a side note, Dove tests its products on animals, as does Oil of Olay and every other product manufactured by Proctor & Gamble and Unilever. Animal testing is NOT a beautiful thing.

Ashley said...

Well the Top Model woman does look heavier on camera than she does in photographs. And Tyra even said herself that she isn't even really plus sized. And Dove...They just irritate me. They are just a walking contradiction and I'll just leave it at that.

cggril said...

Ya i must say, Tyra did comment on girls being between plus size and model size and when asked what they would call this girl, she said "I dunno, real-size?"

Of course there is a lot of hypocrisy in that whole show... just thought i'd mention that detail - that she actually is not considered plus size, from what i understood. And that duality - being model size or plus size - is one of many weird things about modeling so maybe it's good to have an in between model.

Still looks thin to me but whatever...

(Oh and Charlynn thanks for pointing out the animal testing thing. Though is Dove as bad as Proctor and Gamble? for some reason Proctor and Gamble have been touted as the worst of the animal testing big companies, and someone i know actually preferred to buy dove products or other unilever products feeling that it must be the lesser of two evils... anyway that's not really the topic of this blog but personally i am interested in that.)

cggirl said...

I must say tho, i still really like the dove commercials. I also liked that fruit of the loom commercial that had the full figured women in their underwear... it's nice that other examples are cropping up.

And on a more self-centered topic: i just wanted to say thanks for this blog. And also thanks for sharing the Joy Nash video which was so inspiring. And that blog SizeAte... I have decided to do something on this theme in my chosen art medium, because it's been a long time coming and i feel inspired by other people coming forward and sharing. Especially Joy!

Of course my project will have to be quite simple, because i don't have that much time to do it (i still need to make a living and all), and because i'm just one person and in this medium usually teams of people work for months to create something. But still, i really hope it will turn out nice and I'm glad I'm doing it, humble as it may be.

Charlynn said...

cggirl - Dove is manufactured by Unilever, which is basically as big of a company as Proctor & Gamble. They're equally as bad when it comes to animal testing and they produce the vast majority of face, body and cleaning products that you'll find in all the big-box stores. Take a look at the backside of the labels of products that fit into these categories on your next shopping trip and you'll be astounded by how much these two companies dominate the general market.

Colgate-Palmolive also conducts animal tests, so they aren't any better.

While I'm not a card-carrying PETA member, they are the best resource for information on which companies test and which don't. Their website is

I also recommend the Cosmetics Database, which is limited to face and body care products, but this website has a wealth of information on the overall safety of these products. It's definitely a reality check. They're at

cggirl said...

Thank you Charlynn.

Sarah said...

Ashley, so what if she looks "heavier" on camera? She's still beautiful - and desperately needed in a fashion world that worships an unattainable goal for normal women.

Dara said...

I mentioned the new Dove film on my blog last week. Certainly, anything that gets women and girls talking about perceptions of beauty, body image and media manipulation is a good thing, but as a mom, I found the Dove film irritating because it seemed to imply that it's up to us to (virtually) singlehandedly fight off the industry's influence on our daughters. As if.

As a mom, I know I'm a powerful role model for my daughter in every way and I'm always happy to talk with her about what's real and what isn't. But I'm also a woman with my own insecurities and feelings about my body. I'd like to know what Dove would have me say to my daughter, even as I page through my women's magazines and see advertisements for the very products they're trying to convince me I need to be beautiful.

What do you all say to your daughters?

drstaceyny said...

emily--I really like the ad, too.

fff--where in the world are you? What an awful commercial you describe!

sandi--i know. . .

zmama--of course, but they're doing their part.


crayons--thanks! It'd be a shame to waste 12 years and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, huh? ; ) What you did at age 12 is actually pretty common. It's really sad that while our self-esteem is at it's most sensitive, crucial pt, this is what we're faced with.

rr--good idea!

vy--exactly the point!

sue--I'm sure it's pretty common to see negative body images in those who suffer w/these types of diseases. Thanks for weighing in on this additional group of women.

charlynn--true, true.

And, wrt your second point, I did NOT know that Dove tested on animals. The Unilever site says they don't (for their body care products), though that could be wrong. So, I called Unilever, and the rep stated that "Unilever does not test finished products, and we are committed to the elimination of animal testing for our business." She did state, however, that they they are required by law to carry out limited testing on some ingredients and foods, but will not use animal testing if there's is any possible alternative. So, that's that.

The animal lover/vegetarian is me is concerned, but it does seem that they're working toward a better stance re: animal testing. I revise my previous sentiment to
I (may) Love Dove, conditional upon them eliminating animal testing completely. ; )

ashley--I guess she's considered somewhere b/w model size and plus size.

cg--ha--see above--hadn't ready your comment, yet. Does anyone know her stats? I'm curious what "real size" is?

cg--thanks! What's your medium? I'd love to see your work!

charlynn--again, thanks for the info.


dara--you're right on the "as if" point. An uphill battle, certainly. Because we all know that girls care more abt their mothers' opinions than their friends' and the culture's. ; )

Good question abt our daughters. I will pose this question in a separate post for ppl to comment on, if you like (for more exposure).

zubeldia said...

I love the ad, I must say (it reminds of one of the Killing us Softly' films). But I truly do not like Dove (Unilever) for their record on animal rights. There is in fact an ongoing boycott of their products because of their failure to seek out ethical, humane products/ingredients. And, to my mind, no lotion or cream is worth the sacrifice of a non-human animal. There are plenty of products out there which use no animal derived/tested ingredients, which are less harmful for both animals and the planet.

But, that aside, the ad is a good one... I'm just so cynical, though, and part of me thinks it's just a very savvy marketing tool. No matter the motivation, though... the ad is certainly a welcome change.


Beth said...

She's definitely NOT plus size! But then again, do we want to see plus size models scantily clad, like in the group photo? I think not. The poor girl, I bet she feels bad for being called plus size. I'm sure she doesn't have a positive connotation to the term.

Charlynn- so what if Dove tests on animals? That's what they're there for. Did you know that there are boards like IACUC designed specifically to protect animals in experiments? I would rather they test on animals than use humans that come up with rashes and such. Also, you have more control over external variables in animals, as opposed to animals.

Beth said...

" opposed to humans" sorry for the error!

cggirl said...

Dr stacey in answer to your question, my medium is computer graphics (CG - hence CGgirl).

Actually i work in computer animation, a lot of advertising jobs, and you would not BELIEVE what they do with moving images of women. Including newscasters and such.
Thankfully, my jobs in the industry are more in 3D and this is not the type of stuff i do... i'd hate to have to do that because there is something so wrong about it.

And sure i'd love to show you my work. At the moment none of my stuff is directly related to this blog, but this piece i've started IS gonna be relevant to these issues - i can definitely show you guys on this blog, if you're interested. it'll probably be a couple months before it's ready tho...

Anonymous said...

I watch America's next Top Model, and as much as I cant stand her, to Tyra's defense, the other judges wanted to call her "plus sized" and she chimed in that she was NOT plus size, just average size, so I am not saying they may not be marketing it differently, but that was never said on the show (at least so far).

Anonymous said...

Dove and Slim Fast have the same parent company...for what that's worth.

I think the model is beautiful...I don't understand the need for a plus-sized title. Why not just "model"? Why do we need to pick her height, weight apart? I've seen Blogs where they actually checked her BMI. Who cares?


Charlynn said...

Dr. Stacey - Be careful when you see "this finished product not tested on animals." That means the company manufacturing the product still tests chemicals going into the product, just not the product as a whole.

Beth - Sorry if this comes off as harsh, but are you effing kidding me? Not only is animal testing completely unnecessary but it is cruel! Animals are not put on this earth to be used at our disposal. They're not. And they certainly don't volunteer to have chemicals put in their eyes, on their skin, etc., in the name of finding out whether or not they cause irritation. Test animals suffer horrible pain and sometimes permanent damage, often leading to their deaths. The people who conduct these tests do not care about the animals they use in the name of science. The agencies that supposedly make sure these animals are safe are a crock. They're just as bad as the inspectors at slaughterhouses. Prove to me that any company dealing with the testing of animals really gives a damn about their subjects.

Animal testing is unnecessary in an age where we can simulate the effect of a chemical on synthetically-created skin that's remarkably close to real skin. This testing has been proven to be more accurate than animal testing due to the differences in human and animal anatomy. So no, animal testing is not a better way of controlling variables from subject to subject because a rabbit's skin is different from our skin, etc. Even computer simulation tends to be more accurate than animal testing. Companies continue animal testing because of money. It's cheaper. That's all there is to it, and that's shameful.

Stepping off of the soapbox. This is a subject I am very passionate about, obviously. :) It just amazes me how we as humans think we are so superior as a species when we are in fact the cruelest, most brutal beings to our environment (and the creatures contained within, human and otherwise).

Beth said...

No, I'm not kidding, anyone. Aren't there any scientists here who support my inferior animal view? I never said we should directly harm them, but animals are here for our enjoyment, learning(i.e. dissection), and study. Maybe some people seem to care so much about the "no testing on animals" because they're considering it affectively, when it is really an ethical matter. You must weigh the benefits against the risks. And yes, testing in the beauty industry does fall within the parameters of science.

Samantha said...

That girl doesn't look regular sized let alone plus! Where do they get this stuff. Honestly, I am not sure how that Tyra show stays on. It is so stupid. Tell me if I am wrong but has any of those "top models" gone anywhere career wise?

And Dove, if you are listening, keep it up! I hope there is a back lash to all the plastic looking people. The think is, plastic surgery doesn't make you look younger, you just look all stretched out and weird. I think it just says "I am able to afford to look weird and BTW I don't want to look old so I have spent my saving on plastic surgery."
Don't get me started on those crazy yucky implants. They are bouncing around all over town here in Arizona- the plastic surgery capital of the USA!

cggirl said...


I shouldn't get into it cuz that is not the topic of this blog.
I understand what you are saying about weighing the risk against the benefits and i do agree, i'm not black or white on this topic, i feel there are grey areas, including medical research and such.
(And yes i know there are other points of view and i am just one person and i could be wrong.)
But Beth i don't know where u get the idea that animals are here for our enjoyment. That makes no sense to me. Maybe it's a religious type of belief? like, that god put the animals here for us or something?
I don't know where else u could get such an idea... And I obviously disagree completely. Animals are not here for our enjoyment or for us to test on them anymore than we are here for someone else to use and abuse.
We are just here. And they are just here. And how we treat them is up to us... And I do agree with Charlynn that there are many companies that do animal testing more than they have to by law because it's cheaper. Yes I get your point beth that u dont want people coming down with rashes but we can do just fine with all the ingredients that have already been tested without needing to test more. And we can at least try to minimize the testing on animals for new ingredients.

I can understand that different people draw the line in different places, and to each their own.
And Beth of COURSE these animals are getting directly harmed, don't act like ur not saying we should harm the, ur saying we should, as long as we feel its justified. And I do understand that point of view. To some extent, i do agree, i just have different ideas about what justifies it.

I just can't get my head around "That's what they're there for". Unless you are god, how do u know why animals are here or why we are here or whether there even is a reason?

Anyway, sorry Dr. Stacey for getting dragged into this on your blog, whicn is about other things.

And I know other people will answer various things at various points on the scale of opinions on this matter, probably none of which will be the same place i am on these issues, because as i said we all draw teh line in different places.

cggirl said...

Ooh by the way i did think of something in my work that's relevant to this blog:

i had this piece i was working on with the character of a woman. Oddly enough, i modeled her a certain way (not really thin but not fat either) and everyone - men, women, everyone - commented that i should give her a bigger butt and more curves to make her more feminine. Since she is only seen from behind it was even more important to make sure her body was feminine.

I just decided to post it on youtube, i hope the comments are nice. You can see it here:

(It's kinda weird. my more "normal" work is on my reel here - )

cggirl said...

oh just to clarify, whats in the piece now is after taking people's advice to add curves. shes still not fat in my opinion but she is curvier. and it was fitting since i was trying to evoke old paintings where full figured pear shaped women were considered the ideal.

Kitty said...

Unilever/Dove are full of BS. It's just a marketing angle to make you feel warm and fuzzy so they can flog their product to you.

The end!

zubeldia said...

I am a bit shocked that someone wold think that animals here are for our enjoyment, as though they can't experience pain and feeling... Wowsa! I happen to think that all animal testing is morally wrong. The argument made to support testing on animals is that they have less of a consciousness.. By extension, we could then say it's okay to test on small children, babies, people with mental illness... and that of course is ridiculous.

We are all animals... we just like to think we're radically different. We're not. We feel pain, we feel fear we experience anxiety.

I am very passionate on this subject.

Kitty - I agree with you!

superblondgirl said...

That Dove ad is awesome.

PalmTreeChick said...

Wow, that was good!!!

Anonymous said...

Cggirl, Charlynn, and Zubeldia:

Animal research is/has been used
for other things, also. Any drug medication. Cancer research, MS research, AIDS research... any and all research in human history has been built through the sacrificing animals.

...curious to know: would you refuse these treatments if you came down with a life-threatening disease?

Would you withhold meds from your child who is sick due to your stong beliefs? I mean, the "torture" the animals in cancer research is/has been pretty extreme - compared to the research for "beauty" products.

Di said...

Not the plussie!

Wow, that's just... bizarre, insulting, inappropriate... to the tune of we should tell people.

zubeldia said...

Anonymous, I do think the 'would you give your children medicine tested on children' argument to be a little erroneous. For one thing, many drug therapies have been unethically tested on human beings, very often human beings who have been treated horrifically and based on their racial, religious, national identity... We have all no doubt 'benefited' from these sorts of terrible deeds...

But, to answer your question, I try to stay away as much as is possible on the grounds those very grounds. I am a professor at a medical school and I am aware that there are many, many (better) alternatives when it comes to producing new drugs... Animal research is notoriously problematic. What is good for a rat may not be good for a human being... and vice versa. We have likely missed out on many, many discoveries by being wedded to the idea that animal testing is the way to go..

As an aside, I do have an autoimmune condition (systemic lupus) so I am pretty sensitive to this argument from both sides. But, it is my ethical belief that we should NOT sacrifice non-human animal for our own desires .


Charlynn said...

Anonymous: You pose a very good question. I do know that animal research is used for all those purposes, and yes, it's pretty damn horrific. I am highly against it. I hold the view that non-human creatures should not be sacrified for our scientific "advancement," and I put that in quotes because I agree with zubeldia's point that animal reactions to testing do not really translate to human reactions. Animal testing is unncessary. Period. If something is so important that we have to test it on living flesh, then it should be tested on human flesh from a consenting party.

In all honesty, I have been lucky and haven't had to take a prescription medication in the two years it's been since forming my views on animal testing and animal cruelty. Prior to that, I know I took medicines that employed the use of animal testing. I feel guilty about that, but it was before I knew anything about animal testing.

I'm sure sometime in the future I will have to make a decision about taking a medicine that's been tested on animals. If at all possible, I will employ alternatives that may do the same job. Otherwise, I will suffer through and/or let nature take its course. Seriously. I'd rather die than condone the sacrifice of animals that did not volunteer their bodies for testing. That's how strongly I feel about this.

If faced with cancer and the necessity for chemotherapy, I would most definitely opt out. My decision doesn't even stem from my views on animal testing. I watched my grandfather slowly decline as he underwent chemo in his fight against lung cancer and there is no way I would ever do it. I would rather enjoy what little time I have left and let nature take me when I'm ready.

I'm sure this sounds extreme to some, but it doesn't seem that way at all to me. It's about being consistent in belief and standing up for what I feel is right in my heart.

Nakedthoughts said...

even if you are "pro-animal testing" dove is still pretty icky. They want to help you feel beautiful in your own skin? doubtful. how will they sell the skin whitening cream in inda if they do that?

You must keep in mind dove is owned by the same company that makes Axe body spray for men. along with the sexist ads that go with it.

Anonymous said...

I love Dove too! I know this post is after the fact...I run a girls group at the school I work at (7th graders) and most of them watch ANTM. Anyhow, our topic of conversation about three weeks ago was "pretty is as pretty does." We watched the Dove videos and I taught them how to write letters of gratitude and complaints and let them choose which one. Half wrtoe to ANTM thanking Tyra for her "SO WHAT" campaign, but then questioning how she could let someone like "Bianca" stay on the show when she is "so totally mean to the other girls, like duh she is pretty, but like we are all pretty in our own ways." One girl wrote to Dove and I quote "I hated my body as long as I can remember and when I saw your commercial about how the model changes because of equipment I ran to the mirror and thought I was pretty too and I don't need a computer to make me pretty. Thank you for making me love myself for me and not for what the magazines say I am supposed to be. They are fake and now I know. You saved me."

Tear, tear!