Scarlett Johannson

On the use of the word "curvy"....

The flabulous Lizzie Miller.

An interesting post appeared a few days ago about Lizzie Miller, the plus-sized model who appeared in Glamour last year with a flabby tummy.  Now before you get mad at me for saying it like that, let me say that I loved the picture and hope that all women’s magazines follow suit.  But there’s something going on with the way our culture has come to use the word “curvy”…and I mean to get to the bottom of it right here.

What I’m trying to pinpoint is the discrepancy between the use of the word “curvy” and the women held up as curvy personified.  

For instance, when a fashion mag runs a feature on how to choose the best jeans for your body, they refer to body types like “boyish,” “inverted triangle” and “curvy—“ with curvy supposedly encompassing rounder, more voluptuous, fleshier bodies.  Great.  I get it so far.    What upsets me then is the “curvy” ideal that illustrates the definition.    Because while Beyonce has fuller hips than some, her curves are in all the right (read: acceptable) places.   Her stomach is just about as flat as Kate Moss’s ever was, her arms are toned, she’s got great legs etc.   In other words, she has no flab.  Same goes for J. Lo, Scarlett Johannson and other celebs celebrated for their curvy figures. 

But there’s something off, in my opinion, about our culture praising curviness and acting like we’re all about embracing it when it’s really just Kim Kardashian’s butt that’s okay.  What about when the curves aren’t perfect?  When it’s more than just boobs and hips?  What about when there’s (gasp) flab involved?  Because while it’s great that our beauty ideal has (literally and figuratively) expanded just a bit—it’s still pretty rigid.

That’s why I like the Lizzie Miller photo, and think it’s way more ground-breaking than even something like plus-sized pioneer Lane Bryant, which promulgates the same limited definition of curvy as most media outlets (just check out the undies page on their website.)

And I like Lizzie’s use of the phrase “realistic-looking body types.”  It’s not as copy-ready and neat as “curvy,” but then neither are women’s bodies.