A Plus-Sized Change

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Published March 1, 2016
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The Montclarion
Ashley Graham, the model featured in Sports Illustrated. Photo courtesy of YouTube

“Sports Illustrated” releases its much-anticipated swimsuit edition annually. Having three different covers, this year’s swimsuit edition has become revolutionary, because it’s the first to feature a plus-size model.

At just 28 years old, Ashley Graham, a size 16, has already greatly contributed to the body positivity movement.

While the announcement of a new Barbie doll collection that featured all different body types, skin tones and hair textures has been a step in the right direction in the field of body positivity, I think that Graham’s “Sports Illustrated” cover is an even bigger deal.

Magazines have always displayed the female body as a Photoshopped image, leaving individuals to feel the need to comply with typical beauty standards: skinny and perfect. Graham’s photo signifies a societal change towards body acceptance, as the photo was not retouched, which is great to see, considering the magazine’s target demographic is males.

I think this can also be looked at as a win for body image activists and feminists around the world. In her book, “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf discusses that beauty is “about men’s institutions and institutional power” rather than women’s. This magazine cover represents going against what is traditionally considered “beautiful” by males and showing that all bodies are beautiful, which is often what body positivity is all about.

This is only a recent development, as many media sources continue to refuse to show images that have been not been touched-up in Photoshop. “Sports Illustrated” not only featuring a plus-size model, but also not editing her appearance is starting to allow models who look similar to everyday people to be displayed in the media.

The only really interesting twist to this is that “Sports Illustrated” is a magazine that is targeted towards males. While Graham may be making an impact on the front cover, there are still far too many poor examples of acceptance on the rest of the pages, as women who pick up the issue will quickly realize.

Regardless, this magazine is making a major step towards change, and hopefully, other magazines will follow suit, so that people will feel empowered after getting their monthly subscriptions.

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