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Old 9th April 2012   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Marie Claire France: Three Sizes

The French edition of Marie Claire has done something clever for its May edition: it has created three separate covers showing models in a size 36, a size 42, and a size 46. Not that each copy has three covers, but rather, three different editions of the same issue have been published, allowing readers to choose their preference.

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As a concept, it is not quite as original as it may initially seem. As recorded in an article titled "Dying to Look Chic" on our news page (which predated the creation of this forum), the British edition of Marie Claire attempted something similar in June of 2000, except with two covers, one featuring Pamela Anderson, the other a then-curvy Sophie Dahl. Liz Jones, whose name has often come up on this forum for her wonderfully pro-curvy articles for the Daily Mail was the editor of the magazine at the time.

In a nutshell, the article reported that:

The fashion world on both sides of the Atlantic is reeling after an attack on the use of skinny models in women’s magazines—by none other than the top editor of one of those magazines.

Breaking ranks with her peers, Liz Jones, the editor of the British edition of Marie Claire, made her 30-year battle with anorexia public earlier this month and said fashion magazines—with their pictures of scary-thin models—were to blame.

Jones makes it clear that her eating disorder, which began in her teens, wouldn’t have been as severe if she’d had healthier images of beauty to admire as she pored through pages and pages of fashion and beauty magazines.

Jones blames herself, as the editor of a glossy women’s magazine, for causing women to develop eating disorders.

Now, Jones is attempting a unique experiment that could potentially help transform the shape of the fashion industry.

The June issue of British Marie Claire features two different covers—one showing a skinny Pamela Anderson, the other featuring a curvy, full-figured Sophie Dahl.

The idea behind the two covers, Jones said, is that “we will be able to monitor just what women really want. Do they want perfection and aspiration or do they want something more realistic and attainable?”

Surprisingly, readers may want the latter.

Since the magazines hit the newsstands May 5, Jones says she has been inundated with calls from readers raving about the issue
Little wonder. Compare the two images. On the left, Pamela Anderson looks leathery skinned, with a repulsive, radioactive tan. Her figure, such as it is, exhibits an androgynous ropy musculature and appears hard and unyielding. Even her expression is unpleasant. On the right, Sophe Dahl appears soft and fair, her milky skin covering sensually untoned, feminine flesh. She looks sweet and gentle and docile, like a living doll.

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The only grating element is the cover copy, which absurdly refers to the unattractive Anderson as "impossibly perfect" (as if!) and to the infinitely more gorgeous Dahl as "realistically curvy." Indeed, it is Sophie who appears perfect in this image.

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Fast forward to 2012, and one must say that the cover images of the French Marie Claire multiple-sizes experiment are somewhat dull by comparison. Here is a larger version of the cover showing the curviest model of the three, Aglae, represented by Dominique Models and Milk Management.

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Demure, one might say, though at least the model bares a bit of leg and has her arms showing. On the other hand, the smallest-size model exhibits a bare midriff, which prompts one immediately to ask, "Why should only she exhibit her waist, and not the fuller-figured models?"

Turning to the contents page of the magazine prompts one to further question just how progressive this experiment actually is.

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The page places large English titles on the three different covers, identifying them as "Small," "Medium," and "Large." Yet Aglae's stats are given as 36c-31-42, which equates to a U.S. size 12, or let's be generous and say a 12/14. One would barely even classify her as a true plus-size model. Yet she represents the "large" size? That is, she represents the highest level of curviness that Marie Claire is prepared to feature in its pages?

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What about all of the models above her size? What about the women who are a size 16, 18, 20, etc? If this rather slim model is dubbed "large," then what, by implication, are their classifications? Thus, this seeming act of inclusion actually excludes all genuinely full-figured women. This experiment circumscribes the parameters of size acceptance rather than expanding them.

One would have rather preferred to have seen a model Aglae's size represent the slender category, and then have models in, say, size 18 represent "medium" and size 26 represent "large," or something of that nature. That would have made the story far more visionary and significant and might have actually pushed the boundaries of size celebration in fashion.

At any rate, here are the three pages of the magazine in which the curviest model features--looking photogenic enough, but not the least but "large."

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One thing that one must say to Marie Claire's credit is that at least the presence of this model meant that the so-called "medium"-size model, who is very slim, is not left absurdly representing the plus-size category on her own.

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On the page below, observe that the sketch at the left appears much fuller-figured than the physical model. A goddess with proportions such as indicated in the sketch would have been a much better fit for the "large" category.

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One other point in Marie Claire's favour is that at least it did feature models in slightly different sizes when attempting to represent a variety of body types in this issue--unlike, say, Levis, with its ridiculous "All Shapes and Sizes" adverts, which promise to showcase the range between "Slight Cuve," "Demi Curve," and "Bold Curve," only to display three nearly identical varieties of skinniness.

Nevertheless, one wishes that Marie Claire had not artificially circumscribed the parameters of acceptable body types so that its largest parameter constitutes a model who is only barely visibly plus, if at all.

The next time that someone creates a small-medium-large triptych such as this, let us hope that a model Aglae's size will be set at the "small" position, which she rightly should occupy, and that she will be accompanied by two models far more visibly full-figured than she is, who will legitimately represent curvier women.

(Click images to view larger)

- Marie Claire, France

HSG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 9th April 2012   #2
Join Date: January 2009
Posts: 56
Default Re: Marie Claire France: Three Sizes

I do not see any concession to size celebration with the Marie Claire issues at all. The connotation is that truly large women do not exist. I don't mean to sound disagreeable, but I find it to be a slap in the face to plus-size women that someone who looks noticeably small can be passed of as a large-sized woman. Poo-poo to Marie Claire for this farce.
Luminosa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10th April 2012   #3
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Join Date: January 2010
Posts: 188
Default Re: Marie Claire France: Three Sizes

I have to agree with Luminosa. This is quite disappointing.

Furthermore, it's false advertising. I certainly prefer having Aglae over a minus-size model on the cover of Marie Claire, but she isn't even a size 46 at all, as the cover promises. Rather, her agency, Dominique Models, identifies her as a size 42/44, which is about what she looks like:

So she isn't even "large" by Marie Claire's own definition, a size 46 (which was too small to be dubbed "large" begin with).

Now, if this cover heralded that Marie Claire would henceforth be devoting one-third of each issue to plus-size fashion featuring actual plus-size models, then that would at least be something. But the chances of that happening are zero. Even in this issue, the "large" size gets only one-third of a single editorial.
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