Sports Illustrated seems to be taking a more body-positive view in regards to their swimsuit issue: the inclusion of Ashley Graham on one 2016 cover variant and the official tie-in with animated TV series Archer – which gives us a fair few images of Pam Poovey ‘flaunting her curves’ – means we the public are seeing a variety of bodies on beaches.
During a red carpet interview with E!’s Sibley Scoles, white lady of thin privilege Cheryl Tiegs condemned Sports Illustrated for putting a ‘full figure’ model on the cover of its completely unnecessary swimsuit issue – an ‘honor’ that Tiegs has enjoyed twice.
“Do you love the fact that we’re actually stepping outside of our comfort zones of what we know is, like, the ‘model figure’?” Scoles asked Tiegs.
“No, I don’t think it’s healthy,” Tiegs replied to a visibly shocked Scoles. “I don’t like that we are talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them.”
She doesn’t like it.
In her E! interview, Tiegs argued that every woman’s waist should be less than 35 inches in circumference, because that’s what Dr Oz said. It is important that every woman, no matter her build or height, be in line with an arbitrary measurement imposed by a man highly criticized for flogging junk science.
Except that Ashley Graham does fit the Dr Oz standard, as does the average American woman, at least according to WebMD: 5’4″, waist size of 34-35 inches, weight between 140-150 lbs, dress size 12-14. Ashley Graham is the average American woman.
Teigs likes telling women what they need to wear, and how they need to wear it. For decades she was part of the establishment that told women what they needed to look like in order to fit that narrow definition of beauty that was her face back in the 1970s.
But now it’s 2016. Tiegs no longer runs American fashion, and the average American woman is no longer interested in being told that skinny, 5’10 and blonde is the only standard of beauty. Tiegs’s ‘face’ is no longer The Face. But she doesn’t seem to know that.
Instead, Tiegs is affronted that anyone dare presume that the long-fought struggle to change these damaging standards of what a woman ‘should’ look like under the concern-trolling guise of ‘health’ was actually, in fact, a good thing. Maybe she’s just angry that she had to spend 20 years dealing with the fashion industry’s ridiculous standards herself. And maybe she’s directing that anger at another model, instead of directing that anger where it belongs: at the fashion establishment.
No woman who advocates for Planned Parenthood and campaigns about the catastrophic effects of climate change, as Tiegs does, would surely be upset or challenged by the idea that it might be time to move out of the “comfort zone” of size 0?
No. Tiegs doesn’t like it. She doesn’t want to glamorize the full-figured woman. As always, there is the backhanded such-a-pretty-face compliment that every woman who doesn’t measure up to Tiegs’s standard has heard: “Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”
Tiegs later issued an apology over Twitter:
My sincere apologies to everyone I have hurt. I truly just want everyone to be healthy & happy.
— Cheryl Tiegs (@CherylTiegs) February 26, 2016
Cat Conway is originally from Chicago but lives in London. She is a poet, a journalist, an academic and an inner-city English teacher. She also makes a highly regarded peanut butter chip peanut butter cookie. You may follow her intermittent feminist ranting and retweets at @mllekitty.
(featured image via carrie-nelson/Shutterstock)
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