Fabulous curves: Full-figured women are showing their beauty
By TANIKA WHITE
The Baltimore Sun
Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar win for her performance in “Dreamgirls” wasn’t just a boon for the once-spurned “American Idol” contestant.
It was a win for full-figured women all over.
“People usually think fat and ugly,” says Kellie Brown, a spokeswoman for the plus-sized retail chain Avenue. “Fat doesn’t have to be ugly. Curviness doesn’t have to be ugly. Who would look at Jennifer Hudson and say that she was unattractive?”
Evidently, not too many people — including the hip and thin decision-makers at Vogue
. Hudson appears on the March cover of the fashion magazine, the same month that R&B star Beyoncé — hips, thighs, cleavage and all — graces the front of Sports Illustrated
magazine’s swimsuit issue.
And on the back of a recent issue of Life
magazine, a very round, very nude woman — 54-year-old Mirinete Morrison — sits on the floor in a Dove advertisement, hugging her knees.
Could this be the end of the rail-thin woman in advertisements and fashion shoots?
“I believe there’s a real movement nationally to celebrate plus-sized women,” says B.J. Towe, executive editor of Figure,
a fashion and lifestyle magazine for plus-sized women. “I do think the American media is starting to realize this is who their audience is. That they’re not all waif-thin.”
In fact, an increasing number of the nation’s women are shaped more like Hudson than they are like Lindsay Lohan, experts say. About 62 percent of American women are size 14 or bigger, Towe says.
And according to the NPD Group Inc., which tracks consumer spending, the “large-size” clothing market has seen steady increases in sales since 2003. Last year sales of plus-sized clothing reached $18.2 billion.
In 2005, Dove introduced a “Real Women” campaign, which featured everyday beautiful women. “Other companies have caught on. Even Slim-Fast, a weight-loss company, began this year advertising its Optima shakes using curvaceous women with “hips,” as the commercial says, “not hipbones.”
Diversity might be playing a role in the full-figured fad. Many of today’s pop culture stars — such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” — are women of color.
Former Victoria’s Secret model Tyra Banks took hits in tabloids for gaining weight after she stopped modeling. But Banks, a black woman, proudly defended her heavier, hippier self on her daytime talk show and in People
“Our readers are kind of broken into three categories in terms of self-esteem,” says Towe of Figure
magazine. “The first group — those who totally embrace themselves and are not just accepting but love the curves — that group is African-American rich. It also has a large Hispanic population.”
Even ultra-thin Vogue
editor in chief Anna Wintour lauded Hudson for her healthy outlook on weight inside the March issue of the magazine. Wintour says Hudson’s “happiness in her own skin is something we can draw strength from.”