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Emily
29th January 2007, 01:30
Toccara Jones was, of course, one of the contestants on Tyra Banks's America's Next Top Model series. She was a bit on the small side for a plus-size model, but closer to curvy than the previous plus-size contestant on that show.

Her career has had highs and lows, since then -- appearing in some nice fashion campaigns, but making an extremely regrettable choice to appear on an anti-plus TV series, which shall remain nameless.

Nevertheless, just yesterday, Toccara appeared on the CNN Headline News talk show hosted by Glenn Beck.

http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/glenn.beck/

The topic was the media frenzy about the fact that Tyra Banks has become ever-so-slightly curvier. (Tyra is still very slim.)

It's worth posting Toccara's comments in full, because they are among the most wholly positive that I have ever heard from any plus-size model besides Christina Schmidt.

It also helped that the host was very much on her side. These are the sorts of unambiguously positive statements that one wishes every plus-size model or curvy celebrity would make, when these topics are raised.

This is right from the CNN transcript:

GLENN BECK: Toccara Jones, she is a plus-size model, former contestant from the Tyra -- from Tyra`s show, "America`s Next Top Model".

You know what I can`t believe about you? You are called a plus-size model, but you`re like the average size of women, right?

TOCCARA JONES, MODEL: Yes, I`m a regular-size woman, but I don`t mind being called plus size, you know.

BECK: But you`re not plus size; you`re normal.

JONES: Well, who wants to be normal? I`d rather be plus! Plus one and two.

BECK: You know, I tell you, obviously, I didn`t watch the show, but we had a lot of women in the office that watched it and said that you were great because you have such self-confidence. And you would think that that would be the opposite, because you`re around a bunch of models, et cetera, et cetera. Why is that?

JONES: Well, I don`t understand when people say that because I`m around skinny women that they would think that it would be opposite, because you would think that skinny women would have the problems. They`re always starving themselves. They`re always on diets. Who wants to be around someone who`s always starving themselves, because they`re cranky?

BECK: Yes.

JONES: When you`re -- you can you eat whatever you want. You can be full of life, full of energy. I`d rather be fuller than empty.

BECK: You know, it`s amazing to me. I have three daughters, and we don`t -- we don`t bring fashion magazines into the house. I mean, you know, it`s not like I`m walking around, you know, "You will not watch this," or whatever. But I mean, you know, I don`t want them to have that image...

It`s so hard for girls to not have this weight phobia, isn`t it?

JONES: It is very hard. I have a 13-year-old sister, and she`s in high school. And she`s a cheerleader. And I`m 5`9". I`m 180 pounds, and my sister, she`s about 5`7". She`s like 160.

And she came home from cheerleading practice and she`s like, you know, I have to lose this weight. I have to lose this. I looked at her. I said, "You look just like me." I said, "You got all the humps and bumps in the right place." And she smiled.

And it`s like, these little girls are in high school and middle school. They`re looking at these stick figures, and it`s not enough real women with real shapes and real sizes to be like, it`s OK to be yourself, to be the shape and the size that you are.

BECK: You know, I tell you, I -- you know, when I -- when I want to be nice, I`ll go shopping with my wife, you know. She -- "I want to go buy something, too."

And I`m just, "Yes, dear. I`ll go to the mall with you."

She goes. It`s the worst experience of my life for several reasons, but one is, she just gets -- and she is -- she has a beautiful figure, beautiful body, et cetera, et cetera. She tries on clothes and she`s like, no clothes are actually made for human beings. You know? The designers don`t make them for people who actually have actual, non-TV model bodies. Why is that?

JONES: I totally agree. You know what? I don`t know, and it really upsets me because it`s not like America doesn`t know. And it`s not like the fashion people and the designers don`t know.

Like, everyone knows, America knows that the average size American woman is not a size 2, not a size 4, not a 6, not an 8. We`re all double digits. We`re 10s and 12s and 14s. That is the real size of a real woman or of the average American woman.

So I don`t understand why these designers are not, like -- it`s like beating a dead horse. They just won`t listen.

BECK: Toccara, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

You know what? We were talking about double-digit numbers here, 50 percent -- 50 percent of 9-year-old girls have already been on a diet. Eighty percent of 10-year-olds have. Most -- most girls fear being f** over their parents being killed, a nuclear disaster or getting cancer.
I love the fact that Toccara embraces the term "plus-size," and actually understands its connotation as one of advantage. No relativism here -- she clearly expresses a preference for full-figured beauty.

It's also wonderful to see her point out that, despite diet-industry propaganda to the contrary, it is actually underweight women who are unhappy and miserable, because they are constantly starving, whereas being curvy means that you can feel better -- happier, freer, (free to "eat whatever you want," as Toccara says,) and more beautiful.

This was a truly size-celebratory interview, and I only hope that other plus-size models adopt these plus-positive "talking points," for their own media appearances.

Chad
29th January 2007, 18:46
CNN Headline News is sometimes pretty good (at least, as far as the mass media goes) on the curves issue. Their program Showbiz Tonight has exhibited more of a pro-curvy slant than most entertainment shows (although there are still a lot of mixed messages), and a few weeks ago, Glenn Beck took on size-negative model Janice Dickinson about the issue of malnourished models.

Beck did seem to be on Toccara's side in this interview, and kudos to him as a father for banishing fashion magazines from his home, but Toccara still had to lead him into a more positive way of thinking. I would say that Beck expressed size-tolerance, while Toccara introduced him to the more wonderful concept of size-celebration.

Brilliant statements by the model:

TOCCARA JONES: Yes, I`m a regular-size woman, but I don`t mind being called plus size, you know.

BECK: But you`re not plus size; you`re normal.

JONES: Well, who wants to be normal? I`d rather be plus!
and

JONES: . . . you would think that skinny women would have the problems. They`re always starving themselves. They`re always on diets. Who wants to be around someone who`s always starving themselves, because they`re cranky?

BECK: Yes.

JONES: When you`re -- you can you eat whatever you want. You can be full of life, full of energy. I`d rather be fuller than empty.
We need to hear more of this.

HSG
31st January 2007, 08:00
<br>Toccara might not put it this way, but what she actually accomplished with her statements was something that we have advocated on this forum for years, and that is: a <i>revaluation of aesthetic values.</i> This involves standing modern cultural standards on their heads (or rather, righting them--for modern standards are inverted in the first place), and thereby rediscovering the fact that plus-size beauty is not merely "as good as" the androgynous aesthetic, but <i>better.</i>

Toccara expressed these ideas in an extremely accessible way, by asserting that she would <i>"<strong>rather</strong> be plus"</i>; that skinny women, not curvy goddesses, are the miserable ones; and that she would <i>"<strong>rather</strong> be fuller"</i> than starving.

This is the kind of unambiguously pro-curvy stance that all plus-size models should adopt. "Curvy girls have an <i>advantage,</i>" as Christina Schmidt famously said, and full-figured models should be validating this point both with their statements, and with their sheer physical beauty.

You may click on the link below to view a video clip of Toccara's appearance on <i>Glenn Beck.</i> Note that the model's comments are juxtaposed with images of Kate Dillon in the first Lane Bryant lingerie runway show (from the year 2000). Ms. Dillon adopts a seductively haughty expression in this appearance--as the screen capture shows--and Kate's excitingly vain attitude, mixed with Toccara's celebratory statements, comprises precisely the kind of total self-possession that plus-size models can transmit to full-figured girls today.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/video/beck01a.jpg"></center><p>- <a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/video/beck-toccara.wmv">Click here to view video clip</a> (58 Mb)

kirsten
31st January 2007, 15:00
The Glenn Beck shows broadcasts from New York City--and it looks as if some attitudes might be changing there regarding underweight models, as this news item relates (salient points in bold):

NY Lawmaker Wants Models' Weight Guide (http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=249733&GT=7703&mpc=1)
Jan 31, 5:20 AM EST

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Fearing that young models strutting down the runways in New York City are too skinny, a state lawmaker proposes that weight standards be established for the fashion and entertainment industries.

Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera wants to create a state advisory board to recommend standards and guidelines for the employment of child performers and models under the age of 18 to prevent eating disorders.

"New York City is one of the world's leaders in fashion and entertainment and we don't want to do anything to harm those industries," Rivera said. "At the same time we need responsible protections in place, especially for younger workers."

The world of high fashion and modeling has long been targeted by critics who say it encourages women and girls to emulate waif-like models. The November death of a 21-year-old Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, who weighed 88 pounds when she died, heightened criticism.

Rivera pointed to a 2000 British Medical Association study that found a link between the images of the "abnormally thin" models found in fashion magazines and an increase in disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

"Eating disorders come from a combination of environment and genetic makeup," said Dr. Sharon Alger-Mayer, an associate professor of medicine at Albany Medical Center. "Being exposed to an environment with a lot of emphasis on thinness can put someone with a predisposition to eating disorders in a very high-risk situation."

The proposed board would include health experts, industry representatives, models and entertainers. It would report to the state Labor Department on the need for employment restrictions, weight or body mass index requirements, medical screenings, protocols to refer people for treatment and educational programs on eating disorders.

While Rivera's bill does not yet have a sponsor in the Republican-controlled state Senate, the chamber's majority leader, Joseph Bruno, has supported numerous eating disorder related measures in the past.

Bruno last year divulged that his granddaughter suffers from anorexia.

Earlier this month, the Council of Fashion Designers of America released a list of recommendations as part of a new health initiative to prevent anorexia, bulimia and smoking.

The guidelines, which are not binding for the industry, include keeping models under 16 off the runway, educating those in the industry about eating disorders and prohibiting smoking and alcohol during fashion shows.

The voluntary guidelines, however, were criticized by some because they were voluntary and did not include any mention of using body mass index, a tool used to determine if people are carrying a healthy amount of weight for their height.

"This is long overdue," said Lynn Grefe, chief executive of the National Eating Disorders Association.

"I consider this a workplace issue. You have this industry that has really not been looking out for the health and welfare for those that are in it."

In September, Madrid Fashion Week banned models with a body mass index of less than 18. The standard accepted by the World Health Organization is that anyone with an index under 18.5 is underweight.

In a December deal with the Italian fashion industry, designers there agreed not to hire models younger than 16, and to require all models to submit medical proof that they do not suffer from eating disorders.
*****

Kaitlynn
31st January 2007, 21:06
Rivera pointed to a 2000 British Medical Association study that found a link between the images of the "abnormally thin" models found in fashion magazines and an increase in disorders such as anorexia nervosa
I'm glad that someone finally pointed this out. It's so infuriating when fashion-industry apologists claim that there have been "no proven links between emaciated imagery and anorexia." Of course there have been! Do these people live in a vacuum, or only believe what they want to believe? The BMA report made the link all the way back in 2000, and there have been many further studies confirming it since then. Dr. Dittmar lists many of them in her articles.

Here's a news article about the BMA report from when it first came out:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/769290.stm

It's tragic that nothing was done all the way back then. Who knows how many thousands of young fatalities of eating disorders (including the three models whose recent deaths have directly resulted from fashion-industry standards) would still be alive today, if someone had taken action seven years ago.

I hope Mr. Rivera succeeds in his efforts.