LIZ JONESFASHION THERAPY Stick insects not allowed! A fashion mag for women with curves
07:30 GMT, 9 April 2012
Long have I railed about the fact our glossy magazines are myopic when featuring thin models and celebrities who are nothing like their readers.
Even when a glossy does photograph a bigger woman — such as Vogue featuring size 16 singer Adele on its cover — they only show her from the neck up. Given that the average British woman is at least a size 14, it seems insulting and curiously old-fashioned to ignore her so absolutely.
We have seen flesh occasionally, such as when U.S. Glamour dared to show the spare tyre on plus-size model Lizzie Miller within its pages, but this is not the norm.
Slink, published bi-monthly and costing 3.85, devotes 100 pages of fashion and beauty to the fuller-figured woman
My feeling is that magazines occasionally feature bigger girls not to celebrate inches on hips and thighs, but to garner column inches in the Press. Bigger women in their pages are the exception, not the norm.
The editors, fearful of the wrath of the all-important high-fashion advertisers, soon go scurrying back to using size eight girls or even smaller.
Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman — who, coincidentally, is the only normal-size glossy editor I can think of — admitted in an interview last week that even she has little influence to change anything.
BIG IS BEST
The first plus-size catwalk show was held in New York in 2010 by OneStopPlus.com, with models size 16-plus
Talking about the letter she wrote to
designers in 2009 complaining that their ‘minuscule’ sample sizes were
forcing fashion editors to use models with ‘jutting bones’ and ‘no
breasts or hips’, she said: ‘I’m pleased I wrote it.
it make any difference I don’t think so. But at least I tried to do
something and . . . um, yeah, I mean, there’s no doubt that to our
Western eye clothes look better on a thinner frame.’
When I edited a glossy, Marie Claire, I, too, found it nigh-on impossible to widen the diversity of the women we put on the cover and used in fashion shoots.
Early in my tenure, in 1999, I hired the model Daphne Selfe, then in her 70s, for a yoga wear fashion shoot. While I got away with using Daphne inside the magazine, when I wanted to put a 40-something star, the singer Sade, on the cover, I was vetoed.
Models size 10 and below are banned from Slink magazine
Yet a ‘fat’ woman is even more of an anathema than an older one. In June 2000, when I put the then curvy Sophie Dahl on the cover with an un-airbrushed spare tyre, all hell broke loose. I was sacked soon after for my experiment.
So it is a very brave woman, indeed, who decides to publish a magazine devoted to women who are a size 14 and above.
Yet someone has. Called Slink, published bi-monthly and costing 3.85, it is 100 pages of fashion and beauty devoted to the fuller-figured woman. The editor is 26-year-old Rivkie Baum. As a teenager, she was a size 22, mainly because ‘I didn’t stop eating’, but this didn’t stop her falling in love with fashion.
Celebrating her curves: Model Lizzie Miller reveals her stretch marks and a roll of tummy flesh in that Glamour magazine photo which generated a media frenzy
‘I loved the Evans teenage range, which I wish they would bring back, but mostly it was so hard, so frustrating,’ she says. ‘I would scour Camden Market looking for clothes that were big enough.’
Did she read glossy magazines ‘I read all of them. I loved the images and really wanted to fit in. But there was nothing for young women who are bigger. The only answer was for me to get smaller.’
Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman is the only normal-size glossy editor Liz can think of
Today, Rivkie is a size 18 and happy that way. When younger and never able to find anything to wear, she decided to train to be a fashion designer. She studied pattern-cutting and design at the London College of Fashion. But, again, she was excluded.
‘We would cut patterns using a standard block, which was a small size ten. In four years of study, do you want to know how long we spent learning to make a pattern to make a garment that would fit a woman above a size ten One afternoon.’
Her dream is still to design her own label, but in the meantime, she is putting all her efforts into the magazine. She has just given up her job in sales to work full-time on the publication, which she launched online a year ago before deciding to take the plunge into print.
She says Slink is aspirational, not warts and all — referring to the Glamour photograph of Lizzie Miller, which she feels was exploitative, sensational and designed to get publicity.
‘I think the Lizzie Miller shoot was crass, as was the shoot in Heat featuring a naked and curvaceous Gemma Collins, The Only Way Is Essex star. We are not voyeuristic.’
Rivkie has banned ‘straight’ models (the industry term for girls size 10 and below) from her magazine. This poses a problem, given this means she can’t fill her pages with snapshots from the catwalk. To get round this, she has commissioned a fashion illustrator to ‘supersize’ the catwalk looks, showing exactly how they would appear on a fuller figure.
Alongside these drawings are all the pieces that can be bought in sizes up to a 30 that will replicate the designer look. ‘So the reader feels she is getting the look from the catwalk . . . and is not made to feel she can’t even try to look like that,’ she says.
While I find the columnists a little gauche (for fabulous bigger girls telling it like it is, visit jezebel.com for articles on the futility of dieting and the genetics of obesity), Slink can only be commended. Of course a curvaceous woman should not be excluded from the mainstream glossies for advice on how to find a perfect size 22 leather jacket (if you are looking, try yoek.com), but until the other magazines wake up to the fact the plus-size fashion market has shot up by 47 per cent from 2006 to 2011, Slink is a great addition.
And I commend the fact Rivkie has banned ‘straight’ models, and diets and adverts for plastic surgery, something I failed to persuade my publisher to let me do at Marie Claire. Will she be featuring bikini shoots for summer
‘Of course! And lingerie,’ says Rivkie. ‘But we will not run a cover line that says: “How to get that bikini body.” Over my big, beautiful body.’