In case you haven’t heard on Instagram or Twitter, Amy Schumer called the editors of Glamour “not cool” this morning for including her name in a list of “Women Who Inspire Us” on the cover of the magazine’s special issue, Chic at Any Size. The other women mentioned in the list were Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Ashley Graham, all of whom are considered “plus-size” in our culture.
Cue the internet gossip news firestorm. Here’s my insider take on this kerfuffle (I worked at Glamour for eight years and still occasionally write health pieces for the magazine): This special issue shouldn’t be called Glamour’s “plus-size” issue, as it is, by definition and title, not. A quick look at the table of contents:
- We Want Clothes that FIT: A sensitive/servicey story written by a size-12 staffer who describes the difficult issues finding clothes that really fit/flatter (and gets fitted by Zac Posen).
- Amy, Where Have You Been All Our Lives? A feature story about Amy Schumer that includes much talk about her feminist voice and unapologetic body love.
- Lena! Girl's Girl: A feature story about Lena Dunham (see above).
- How Do You Feel About Your Body? A story about how women's body image has changed over the last 30 years, which includes a fashion pic of Meghan Trainor.
- 10 Women Who Changed My Life: An essay written by Melissa McCarthy.
- We Adore These Celebs Body and Soul: A fashion story featuring Viola Davis, Adele, Nicole Richie, Rumer Willis, Ashley Fink, Queen Latifah, Aisha Tyler, and others.
- The Five Big Rules of Self-Expression: Besides some great advice, it features a full-page photo of Beth Ditto being in-your-face fierce.
- Lots of glam fashion pics of women of all shapes and sizes, from Amy Schumer-shaped to Nicole Richie-shaped to Melissa McCarthy-shaped.
So let’s call this issue what it is: a "normal-size" issue (as in all sizes are normal) or a “diverse bodies” issue or “not the usual mostly thin women in the fashion spreads” issue. All of those work for me.
“Perhaps I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t know a lot about Amy Schumer,” my friend Holly said to me about this whole thing. “Yet when I see her reply, it seems like a version of, ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ She chose to go on IG and rant essentially about how, just to be clear, she’s not really that fat, as if she wanted to distance herself from the label as much as possible.”
Could Amy’s reaction give us a peek into her own body insecurities? (She is a human female, after all, and has regular, if unfortunate, lady-feelings.)
Listen, I’m no Pollyanna about the state of women’s media (advertising, television, publications, porn, toys, etc.). But change comes in steps, and Glamour took one. (Just like that particular magazine has been doing, slowly but surely, for years. See: the belly roll seen 'round the world, binge-eating disorder, and weight stigma.) What’s more, I still know many of the staffers who work there, I’ve been in those ideas meetings, have helped cast models, and I know that the editors believe the “body love” and “chic at all sizes” message. Believe me, or don’t—but I was in the trenches.
Bottom line: I applaud Glamour for having the guts to put this issue out there, despite knowing that we would probably pick the whole thing apart. My only complaint? The issue costs $13.
Now, on to the glorious future when women of all shapes will be in every issue of every fashion magazine all of the time and not in a “special issue.” It’s coming. (OK, now you may call me Pollyanna.)
Sunny Sea Gold is Greatist’s body image columnist and the author of Food: The Good Girl’s Drug—How to Stop Using Food to Control Your Feelings (Berkley Books, 2011). The views expressed herein are hers. A health journalist by trade and training and a mom of two little girls, she’s also an advocate and educator focused on reducing the rates childhood obesity and eating disorders by building Body-Positive Families. Reach out to her @sunnyseagold.