At the airport recently, I grabbed a copy of Glamour magazine, the one with a beautiful, dark haired woman in a flowing red dress on the cover. I didn’t think anything of it, until the cashier said to me, “You know this magazine costs $12.99, right? It’s the Plus-Sized Special Edition.” And I stared at her, and even skeptically squinted my eyes while I considered what she said. Why does this magazine cost more just because there are bigger women on it? It’s not like they needed bigger sheets of paper or more ink to make it. Ridiculous.
I shook my head incredulously and eventually forced a pleasant reply: “that’s fine.” (After all, it wasn’t the cashier’s fault.) As I leafed though the glossy spreads on my 5 hour flight, I noticed all the women in the magazine were plus-sized, not just the cover model. All the ads (which seemed to be just a few companies over and over throughout the magazine, thanks to their new partnership with Lane Bryant), the fashion sections, and articles were geared toward women sizes 12 and up. And despite my not being size 12 or above, I still enjoyed the magazine. Not much was different except for the size of the women in it. I wasn’t staring at an abundance of graceful, tree-like models, who always look inexplicably happy (though perhaps hungry? I kid, I kid) and well-lit. It felt less like a peek at some crazy, unattainable life, and more like the reality I see and interact with everyday. I finished reading it feeling fine about myself, compared to the anxious, I-don’t-have-that, I-don’t-look-like-that feeling I get after I read one of it’s other “normal” magazine editions.
A few days later, I stood in the bathroom brushing my hair as my two and four year old daughters watched and commented. “You’re beautiful, Mommy,” the oldest said. The two year old parroted. I turned to them and instead of thanking them for their thoughts, I stopped and looked into their eyes. “I know! And since I’m beautiful, you are too, because you are my daughters. You are like me because I made you,” I strongly stated with a serious face (eyebrows raised and all) and continued, “and a little bit of Daddy, ‘cause he made you, too.” They listened wide-eyed, and then burst into giggles and ran out of the room.
I wondered what it was going to be like for my daughters when they reach that self-aware age. Are they going to feel like they don’t belong or fit in because they don’t look like the women in magazines? Are they not going to be able to pick up the asian magazines or the white people magazines because they aren’t simply one or the other? I know I’m not alone with these type of thoughts; my concerns aren’t anything new to parenting. I’d love to live in – and have my kids grow up in – a society of acceptance. And if we can’t manage that in the midst of vast diversity, then I’d at least like them to be able to hold their own and have a strong sense of self-worth and self-acceptance. Perhaps that’s where the change begins. Perhaps that’s where it began for all the women and people who fought for rights and equality.
I’m working on it – on acceptance of self and others – and hopefully passing it on to my kids and everyone else who deserves their own Special Editions. I’m glad our society is working on it, and that it’s slowly getting better. I just wish it cost less. 🙂