At the end of last year images were leaked to the internet for V Magazine's "size" issue. The hype continued to grow with each successive leak of tantalizing images; especially the ones of plus size fashion models over the size of four. Almost everyone in the online plus size community that follows these types of occurrences on was excited, myself included. The models were beautiful, lush, and full of that modeling trait Tyra Banks demands from her model protégés --the ability to be fierce.
When January 14th finally came around I marched off to the local book store to get my copy of this American "film, music, and fashion" magazine. Unfortunately, there was none to be found. I tried a few other shops. No luck. Not one to give up so easily I visited the official website for V where I found I could purchase a digital subscription for $7 or the "size" issue for $2. I chose the cheaper version.
For its special "size" issue V magazine created two covers. One featuring American sweetheart Dakota Fanning (I can't believe how quickly she's grown up) and the other featuring Gabourey Sidibe the star of the movie Precious (also starring Mo'Nique). At first I thought the whole idea of two covers was grand. Until I saw the accompanying titles for each woman. For Dakota - "Little Lady". For Gabourey - "Big Love". While I realize the theme of the issue is size I don't think it was necessary to label the cover models as such. We can clearly see the difference. And if the whole idea is the acceptance of different sizes and destroying the stigmatism of labels it defeats the purpose.
Flipping through the digital pages I was struck by how the theme of the magazine doesn't really pick up until page thirty. Otherwise it looks like business as usual. And the usual business is skinny -- right from the opening Stephanel and Dolce and Gabbana ads (to name a few) featuring the obviously retouched Madonna who normally looks quite athletic.
But I don't want to come off as doom and gloom. I did enjoy most of the relevant images in this issue. One of my favourite was with an introductory article called "Go Figure" which featured a Beth Ditto-ish petite woman, a slightly taller slender woman, and an incredibly tall woman. All side by side in their own fashion poses (see left). The piece is about the continued debate about the size of models in fashion. A debate that continues. My favourite line: "Here's to the 'size issue' becoming a non-issue in 2010."
Another favourite image of mine is a group of black women standing with artist Mickalene Thomas. The models are all topless in red shorts. While they are all slender bodies, what I like about it is the differences of their breasts (see article on Beautiful Women Project for why). While it by no means covers the incredible diversity of breasts shapes women have it does show a variance from the images we are usually bombarded with. So that's a plus.
The final image that found a home in my heart was that of Gabourney Sidibe making a funny face. Something about this seems to capture her fun-loving personality. And maybe her view on the whole 'size issue'.
The real meat of the magazine comes with the piece titled "The Shape of Things to Come". Unfortunately there was nothing new for me here. All of the images for this section were pretty much leaked. In fact, if you haven't seen them you could simply enter a search for "V magazine size issue" to view them.
The best thing about this issue of V magazine is the discussion it has spurred over the last few weeks. As long as we keep talking there is a possibility for change.
While this issue of V magazine is still overwhelmingly on the thin side it has proven a few points that the plus size community has been saying for years; plus size women can be extraordinarily beautiful and fashionable. And finally, that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and on and on.
Do I recommend picking up this issue? Definitely. The only way to get more diversity in our monthly magazines is to support these supplementals when they are published. Eventually, someone will get a clue, "Hey, why don't we do this all the time." Will it happen in the next decade? We'll just have to wait and see and in the mean time put our dollars where it counts.
Get your own digital copy of V-Magazine from their official website.