Saturday, October 16, 2010

From Glamour magazine

A friend sent this story along a while ago. I was just going through my emails and found it.
What surprised me about the photo was how happy it made me feel!
What a gorgeous woman and what a marvelous belly.
In my job as a labor and delivery nurse (and in my mirror!) I never see the flawless tortured skinny bodies that are all I see in the media.
The great joy I felt in seeing this photo made me realize how much it disturbs and confuses my deep self to never see itself played back to me in the media that surrounds us.

It's a photo that measures all of three by three inches in our September issue, but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands. (As editor-in-chief, I pay attention to this stuff!) "I a

m gasping with delight...I love the woman on p 194!" said one...then another, and another, andanotherandanotherandanother.


ho is she? And what on earth is so special about her?
UPDATE: See the body image revolution started by your amazing comments below.Lizzi Miller\What Everyone But You Sees About Your Body\Photo: Glamour
Here's the deal: The picture wasn't of a celebrity. It wasn't of a supermodel. It was of a woman sitting in her underwear with a smile on her face and a belly that looks...wait for it...normal.

The "woman on p. 194." Gorgeous!
I'd loved this photo at first sight myself--we'd commissioned it for a story on feeling comfortable in your skin, and wanted a model who looked like she was. But even so, the letters blew me away: "the most amazing photograph I've ever seen in any women's magazine," wrote one reader in Pavo, Georgia. From another in Somerset, Massachusetts: "This beautiful woman has a real stomach and did I even see a few stretch marks? This is how my belly looks after giving birth to my two amazing kids! This photo made me want to shout from the rooftops."
The emails were filled with such joy--joy at seeing a woman's body with all the curves and quirks and rolls found in nature. (Raising a question: With all the six-packs out there, do you even know what a normal belly looks like anymore--other than the one you see in the mirror?)
So what's the story behind the photo? "The woman on p. 194" is actually 20-year-old model Lizzi Miller, and this is her second appearance in Glamour, shot by fashion photographer Walter Chin. A size 12-14 and avid softball player/belly dancer ("I like exercising when it's fun"), Lizzi moved to New York City from San Jose three years ago to become a model (a "plus-size" one by modeling industry standards, though hello, at size 12 she's actually "normal size"...but I digress).
"When I was young I really struggled with my body and how it looked because I didn't understand why my friends were so effortlessly skinny," Lizzi told me. "As I got older I realized that everyone's body is different and not everyone is skinny naturally--me included! I learned to love my body for how it is, every curve of it. I used to be so self-conscious in a bikini because my stomach wasn't perfectly defined. But everyone has different body shapes! And it's not all about the physical! If you walk on the beach in your bikini with confidence and you feel sexy, people will see you that way too."
As for the letters, Lizzi's loving them. "When I read them I got teary-eyed!" she says. "I've been that girl, flipping through magazines trying to find just one person who looked a little bit like me. And when I didn't find it I would start to think there's something wrong with the way that I looked. When J. Lo and Beyoncé came out and were making curves sexy, I started to accept myself more. It's funny, but just seeing them look and feel sexy enabled me to do the same." Lizzi, now you're doing the same for all of us--massive congrats on that.
We had some rollicking debates in this blog last week about "fattism" and the TV shows for plus-size women. So let's start off this week with something we can all get behind: a toast to the woman on p. 194, and to the spectacular sexiness of owning who you are. Trust me, Glamour's listening, and this only strengthens our commitment to celebrating all kinds of beauty.
Now tell me...what do you think of the picture? Can a photo make you feel better or worse about your own looks? And what kinds of images would you like to see more of in Glamour?
UPDATE: I continue to be amazed by all of your thoughtful comments below, as does Lizzi; to watch her take on readers' reactions to her photo, check out our recent appearance on The Today Show.
UPDATE: See the body image revolution started

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