Jewish World Review Feb. 9, 2004 / 17 Shevat, 5764
Fat fashion show no show
Bad news about America's weight problem getting you down? Here's a story that promises to
lighten things up in more ways than one.
Plus-size fashion purveyor Lane Bryant recently called off its annual fashion show featuring overweight
models in lingerie. The reason: "We had a hard time finding celebrity spokesmodels," admitted
Lane Bryant's Catherine Lippincott. The usual super-sized suspects like Anna Nicole Smith and Queen
Latifah have lost weight. Lane Bryant was, um, big enough to congratulate the women on their weight
loss, even while lamenting the thinning of the super(size)model ranks.
They aren't the only ones disappointed. This is a setback for those who promote fat pride as well.
The size acceptance movement has relied on plus-size celebrities to carry the big-is-beautiful banner. But
what does it tell you when such erstwhile poster-children such as Queen "I'm not losing a damn
pound" Latifah goes ahead and drops the bluster along with 40 pounds? What it says is that
despite the brave show, very few women are proud of being overweight or obese.
And why should they be? Obesity dramatically increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and
can cut up to 20 years off a person's life. Co-morbidity beautiful? Sleep apnea sexy? I don't think
so. Pretending that the condition that causes such ailments is attractive only provides one more excuse to
avoid taking the necessary steps to get healthy.
There's one trend in which the use of overweight models may be helping: mainstream health clubs featuring fuller models with less body tone in their advertisements. The theory being that your average overweight Joe can relate to images of beer bellies better than those of six-pack abs. And if it gets more people off the couch and into the gym, I'm all for it.
Ever since Americans woke up to the negative health consequences of tobacco use it's become
increasingly un-cool to incorporate images of women smoking in fashion magazines or entertainment.
Similarly, it's hard to reconcile the toll of alcohol-related deaths, whether through accidents or disease,
with portrayals of the lovable or amusing drunk. The medical establishment is now unanimous in
acknowledging obesity as a leading factor in a devastating range of diseases. Isn't it time our culture
caught up and dropped the pretense of fat pride, along with the extra pounds?
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