GLAMOUR’s plus-sized cover controversy, explained

Guilty Pleasures | Ally Barbaro | April 14, 2016

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On GLAMOUR magazine’s most recent special edition cover, the title read “Chic at any Size!” On the bottom right corner of the cover, there was a “Women Who Inspire Us” section. Underneath that title were the names “Melissa McCarthy, Adele, Amy Schumer and Ashley Graham.” Melissa McCarthy is known for her roles in films like Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013), and the TV show “Mike & Molly.” Adele is Adele. You should all know that one. Amy Schumer is best known for Trainwreck (2015) and her television show on Comedy Central, “Inside Amy Schumer.” Ashley Graham is a model best known for being the first plus-size model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition.

Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated | Sports Illustrated
Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated | Sports Illustrated

This issue of GLAMOUR is their plus-size issue. It is the first of two plus-size issues the magazine is going to circulate as part of their new partnership with Lane-Bryant. What was meant as a big step forward in the world of body positivity has turned into a source of serious controversy.

GLAMOUR created an absolute shitstorm for Amy Schumer. She said she fluctuates between a size six and a size eight. On Forever 21’s website, plus-size begins at size 12. On H&M’s website, plus-size begins at 14. Torrid, a retailer specifically for plus-size women, starts its sizing at a 12. Clearly, it’s not a universally agreed upon definition, but one thing is certain: neither a size six nor eight is plus-size. If Schumer did not refute GLAMOUR’s claim, she would have sent the message that sizes six and eight are plus-sized. This is extremely troubling because that sends the message to women and young girls that Amy Schumer, a completely average and fit woman, is plus-sized. This is a damaging misconception to have. If young girls see Amy Schumer on TV or in movies and think that she is plus-sized, this can damage their own perceptions of their own bodies.

This isn’t even me trying to say that being a plus-sized girl is bad. The bigger problem is society’s view of plus-sized women – and that is bad. Young girls are constantly shaped by the media and if the media is telling them “plus-size is bad; ‘normal size’ is better,” then those girls also receiving the message that sizes six and eight are plus-sized is extremely harmful for their body image.

Schumer realized the potential harm caused by this inaccurate representation of her body, so she responded to GLAMOUR in an Instagram post stating, “I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and 8. @glamourmag put me in their issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamorous.”

“Not Cool” – I couldn’t agree more. But after posting, Schumer faced a lot of opposition. Many people called her out for her negative reaction. Many commenters on the photo saw it as her distancing herself from that claim for her own benefit, as though she was just trying to prove she is a smaller size because that’s “better.” Although I understand how some could view her response that way, she had to respond. If she didn’t, GLAMOUR would have gotten away with misconstruing plus-size by many sizes, and categorizing her body without her permission. 

In an interview on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” this past week, Schumer commented on this by saying, “For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m a famous plus-size model.”

She expanded saying, “I love GLAMOUR magazine. Honestly, they’ve been so nice to me. They’ve done so many great things for women, but what I learned is that people really don’t like being classified by plus-size. We don’t need these labels. We don’t need ’em ya know it should just say what size you are…” This response elicited loud cheering from the audience and a creepy smile from me, watching on YouTube in my bunk bed in Thurston.

What really pisses me off, though, is that Schumer, a well-known feminist, got put into a position where in order to help with the issue of body positivity, she had to seemingly put other women down. Schumer has shown time and again on her show “Inside Amy Schumer,” and even in Trainwreck, that she is constantly challenging the societal norms of women’s beauty and weight.

“For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m a famous plus-size model,” Schumer on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.’

I mean, come on. In a sketch on her show, she visits a famous Hollywood nutritionist. The nutritionist suggests diets such as “colonic blastoff,” the “Chilean miner’s diet” and “Kentucky Meth Cycle.” First of all, these diet names are hilarious. I can’t stop picturing some knockoff superhero who’s power is a “colonic blastoff.” Secondly, though, and more importantly, Schumer clearly understands the pressures women face with regards to their bodies. Schumer has also joked multiple times that in Los Angeles her “arms register as legs.” Time and again on her show and in her stand up she challenges these norms.

 I mean how god damn annoying is it that in 2015, GLAMOUR gave Schumer a Trailblazer award and now they started this stupid ass controversy by making assumptions about her body without her permission? Let’s also not forget about this acceptance speech in which Schumer said, “I’m probably like 160 pounds right now and I can still catch a dick whenever I want, like that’s the truth.” The speech that went viral and everyone was obsessed with it because of its body positivity. Please excuse me while I rip my hair out. While GLAMOUR’s intentions were positive – shedding light on beautiful plus-size women and ending body shaming , it was “not cool” to include Schumer in the issue, kind of body shaming her by making assumptions.

Incidents like this prove how disheartening tackling issues as sensitive as this one can be. This ended with women putting each other down. Some supported Schumer, but others attacked her. The world needs more women supporting each other, not putting each other down.