Robin Givhan: How Can We Celebrate All Sizes When Some Are Unhealthy?

03/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Robin Givhan Washington Post

In her Sunday Washington Post column, fashion editor Robin Givhan addresses the emerges of the plus-size model. She points to V Magazine's recent size issue, in which plus-size model Crystal Renn is photographed alongside a size 2 model, however readers complained that Renn didn't really represent larger women, since she's only a size 12. Givhan asks:

Just how big does a model have to be before folks are satisfied that she represents some ever-shifting vision of what a "real" woman looks like? Must she be precisely 5-feet-4 and a size 14, which is the fashion industry's accepted stats for the average woman? And if she is, will that transform the fantasy photographs in fashion magazines into the equivalent of catalogues?

But what about outside the pages of fashion editorials? Givhan mentions Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe who got all-glammed-up for the Golden Globes. She spoke with Sidibe's dress designer Kevin Hall who says that his customers express their insecurities regardless of their sizes:

"I've had actresses who are a size 2 stand in front of me and weep. I've had young girls who want to cover their arms and older women who want to cover their arms," he says. The most significant difference in creating a dress for a larger size is that often a designer has to tamp down his ego. He can't as easily force his vision onto the woman since she doesn't have the physique of a hanger.

Givhan ends her column posing an interesting question: "How does a culture celebrate the beauty of all shapes and sizes even when statistics are telling us that certain sizes are unhealthy?"

What do you think?