Amazing side-by-side photo comparison: averaged-sized woman hugging a fashion model
          

This above photo from a Plus Model Magazine has gone majorly viral with it’s side-by-side comparison between Katya Zharkova, a US size 12 (who is actually smaller than the average sized American woman, who wears a size 14) hugging a rail-thin fashion model with the quote “Most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for anorexia.” It should be noted that anorexia is primarily a mental health issue, but it’s true that most models fall below (sometimes well below) what is considered a healthy Body Mass Index.

The editorial the photo was featured in included a call to action for consumers to voice their opinion, and demand fashion models that are the size of real women (or at least in the “healthy” BMI range, which is between 18.5–24.9. You can click here to play around with a BMI calculator to figure out what that means, but basically if a woman is 5’8″ and 110 lbs, she has a BMI of 16.7, which is WAAAAY below healthy.)

Here’s some statistics from Plus Model Magazine:

-Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less.

- Ten years ago plus-size models averaged between size 12 and 18. Today the need for size diversity within the plus-size modeling industry continues to be questioned. The majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14, while the customers continue to express their dissatisfaction.

- Most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for Anorexia.

- 50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller.

My opinion on this: I personally don’t have a problem with models having more “ideal” bodies than most of us, but there should be more toned models sporting healthy weights, as well as a wider range of sizes in models. Right now there seem to be two categories: mainstream models who are much smaller than average, some even to the point of being unhealthy, and “plus-sized” models, who are usually regulated to the fringe. All women and body types needs to be represented, especially the under-represented types in the healthy range. Being overweight shouldn’t necessarily be celebrated, because it is unhealthy, but being too thin is also unhealthy, and that’s extremely over-celebrated. Girls and women should have a more healthy “ideal” example made for them, which might ultimately result in less cases of eating disorders (including binge eating disorders that can lead to obesity.) And yes, as some commenter are pointing out, a size 14 (the average US size), for most women falls above the healthy BMI range. Size 14 may be normal in the U.S., but it’s often not healthy. Of course healthy can be different sizes for different women, factors to consider include Height, Weight, lean muscle mass vs. fat percentage, and health indicators like blood pressure, triglycerides, diabetes, etc.

Regardless above model Katya Zharkova is definitely gorgeous.

How does the above photo make you feel? Women, do you think your size is under represented in fashion? Fellas, what kind of models would you like to see?

Found via Fashionista and American Picker‘s Danielle Colby Cushman, a gorgeous burlesque model in her own right

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    • Klemmi

      This is more reflective of the growing obesity rate in American society than anything else. 50% of women should not be size 14 or larger. I’m not defending the thinner model, by the way. But just because being overweight is now common, doesn’t mean it’s normal or should be accepted.

      • Sara

        You’re right. But the bigger woman on this picture IS NOT overweight to me.

        • Klemmi

          I agree. The article says she’s a size 12 but it doesn’t give her height/weight. I’m willing to bet she’s a tall size 12. She looks like she’s carrying a healthy extra 10 pounds. At my height (5’1″) a size 12 would be an unhealthy extra 60 pounds. Everything’s relative! ;)

          • Sara

            Glad to know we’re on the same page! ;)

      • kat

        could not agree with you more. im a size 00-0. according the that article i would be considered anorexic but i eat healthy and indulge in junk food sometimes too. i do have a low bmi but i try everything to bring it up by working out and eating high protein foods to build muscle mass. some people are just thin naturally. i feel its much more healthy to be a little too thin than it is to be fat. not saying that being anorexic is healthy. as long as you get the proper nutrients then it shouldnt matter how thin you are. and im getting sick and tired of plus sized people being a good influence while skinny girls are looked at as unhealthy just because we work hard and control ourselves from just shoving anything we want in our mouths. its detrimental to our society for kids to see that being fat is ok. they will learn no self control, eat unhealthy, not excercise, get diabetes and have heart problems.

      • http://none James

        The definition of “normal” according to dictionary.com

        conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

        If more than 50% of women are size 14 or larger, then by definition they are “normal”

        “Healthy” is a different word all together.

        • Klemmi

          OK. This is an issue of semantics and I concede the point. I still would argue that our nation is not healthy if over 50% of women (along with a significant percentage of men) are overweight. (And depending on how fine a point you want to put on the word “natural”, I would argue that being that overweight is not natural and is therefore not normal.)

      • CandieBarr

        If 50% of women are 14 or over, that is the norm and thus makes it normal. and depending on height, body fat, body shape, a size 14 can be quite healthy.

      • Amanda

        A size 14 doesn’t mean anything. Why? Because the fashion industry has no regulated sizing. I could be a size 11 at one store and a size 15 at another. It’s ridiculous. 14 doesn’t mean over weight or unhealthy, and just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy either. I know a lot of girls that are skinnier than me and therefore in society’s eye’s healthier, but I can out endure them when we work out. So tell me again? How does clothing size define your “health”?

    • Mike

      I agree with Klemmi – being overweight shouldnt be accepted just because its the norm, but as the article said, this plus sized model is a very healthy shape, 6.5 sizes thinner than the “average women”. It just shows the extreme of the “ideal model”. Its ridiculous

    • what on earth?

      Tall unusually thin models are chosen to showcase the CLOTHES, it’s the way the CLOTHES look not the models, their supposed to be like equal-heighted mannequins for the designer’s work.
      As for those naturally in the lower BMI ranges-this may well alienate them too, being told you’re ‘too fat’ or ‘too skinny’ is detrimental; for every body type there is out there’s someone who prefers it over others.

      • blueblueblue

        except that those clothes look like crap on people with anything more than bones and skin.

        • kat

          and you can leave those clothes for girls like me, who take pride in their appearance and take care of their bodies

          • Amanda

            Haha wow! You think people who are “average” don’t take pride in their appearance and that you have to be considered thin before people think you do? That makes no sense. You know what? I don’t eat fast food, I cook all my meals and eat healthy, and I workout three times a week. Yet by your standards I’m prolly fat and lazy and could care less about my appearance. However, I could probably out run you. Just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy. It doesn’t mean you don’t practice restraint. Genetics and actual disorders (aka a messed up thyroid) cause you to be overweight. I find it appalling that you think that way. Being a little too thin causes problems too. Did you know that if you have a low BMI it messes up the menstrual cycle and breast development? Also fat is important in insulating and protecting organs as well as serving as a storage deposit for extra fuel. Even cholesterol is important in building and maintaining cell walls.

          • Amanda

            I take care of my body, but I am sick and tired of going shopping for clothes for 5 hours at a time and coming away with only one pair of jeans that are too big and furthermore I have to wear a belt because they don’t fit right on my hips and I can literally easily pull them down even when buckled if I don’t have a belt on, yet a size smaller is too small. I’m sick and tired of having to wear plain t-shirts that I buy in the guys dept because girl shirts are designed for girls with no boobs. And I’m not fat. You can easily feel my ribs, spine, collar bone and hips. I have distinct ankles, elbows, knees, and a waist. I don’t have rolls of fat. But because I have boobs, a lovely butt, and wonderful hips, I suddenly can’t find clothes that fit since they are catered to stick thin women like you. It’s ridiculous. Explain to me why it’s so “normal” for a small percentage of the population like you to get catered to and get all the pretty and nice clothes, and then the rest of the girls like me literally feel like we’re going to have to start making our own clothes or get store-bought clothes tailored so they’ll fit properly.

            • Kendra

              @Amanda
              …….Are you KIDDING ME?! Either 1.) You do not have the curvy body type you’ve described – since you claim that a certain size of pants will be be loose enough to pull down when buckled and yet the next size up is too small, which is simply not feasibly unless you have no visible waist and are the same measurements from your waist to your thighs. 2.) You shop for “5 hours” at *one* store that doesn’t carry a single brand of clothing designed for the type of body you have, in which case you REALLY need to broaden your shopping horizons. 3.) You are lying/exaggerating in order to make what I’m sure you mistakenly believe to be a good attempt at berating the ‘thin’ commenter above out of jealousy or anger. 4.) The undeniably most likely option: You are [still] lying, and really ARE fat.
              I personally fall into the healthy weight range on the BMI scale, and I am far from skinny but I am also not fat. My weight fluctuated for a while growing up so I know that if I were to gain 10 lbs I would start looking chubby, and if I were to gain 10 lbs I would be on the thinner side and would lose the boobs and butt that give my body the curves I like to have. I am 5’4″ and 125 lbs and am naturally top heavy so I can say with absolute certainty that you are Full Of Crap. In my entire life there has been ONE time that I have been forced to buy a shirt from the guys’ section; the only reason I had to do so was because I was looking for a Boston Bruins shirt to wear to a game and was set on buying a shirt from the store (Dick’s) I was at I didn’t like the few selections in the women’s department, so I ended up purchasing one from the Boys’ department.
              To sum up I just want to say that if you are trying to speak out about **healthy** (not overweight) body types needing to be portrayed and considered more by retailers and fashion workers- which I feel IS important and beneficial for women everywhere – you should really do it without fabricating such a transparent and inane story in what I can only assume is a poor attempt to degrade women thinner than yourself.

      • Me

        I agree. I am one of those people who NATURALLY fall right below the normal BMI numbers…and it does not feel good to be told that I’m “anorexic” and “too skinny” when I cleary eat healthy and take care of myself. Yes, I look more like that thin model…but it’s not because I starve myself. Some women are just that way, people!

    • Ashley

      I agree that there should be more “normal” looking models out there, but the average US size should not be 14….for most women that is overweight. I also don’t think that the models should be chastised for being “too thin…” yes some of them are, but if they are healthy and happy they should be able to represent that type of body…I am naturally a size 0, and have a healthy BMI, yet everyone seems to think that it is fine to always tell me I’m too thin and to eat more.

    • Lexxie

      None of you are middle-aged yet, are you…because you haven’t a clue whats coming with age and having children. You’re all in for a HUGE wake up.

      • Mslux

        Here we go again………
        We KNOW! You have kids. Your life sucks….blah blah blah.

        • Lexxie

          Excuse me, when did I ever say my life sucked? I’m pretty happy actually and I’m pretty grateful for all the things I have, which I worked hard for. Sorry I’m not a teenager, posting from the computer my parents gave me for christmas. Post to me again when you grow up.

          You’re the one who sounds bitter. Good luck, you’re going to need it.

          • Roxanne

            Lexxie, she’s referring to your utter b!tchiness in the post on the 14-year-old’s pregnancy and suing her family for trying to force her to get an abortion. In fact, you should go read what I said in reply to you over there.

            We all know you’re a cranky middle-aged woman who assumes that everyone here is a teenager who has experienced nothing in life and you assume that we all have had everything handed to us. Go let your misguided anger out where it is actually necessary.

            • Mandy

              Whoa. I just went and read the comments on that post. That very quickly became a “Who has a crappier life?” debate didn’t it? Good news, I feel really great about myself now!

              • Roxanne

                If you really understood what happened over there, you’d know I don’t think I have a crappier life than her. She and I have both been through hard times. My point was she is wrong to say that we have no life experience ESPECIALLY when she knows nothing about us. I only brought out my “sob story” because she had the nerve to get hostile with me for a comment I posted that did not deserve her vileness at all. The point in my saying what I’d been through was just proof that she was so out of line. I could have worded things better. Ultimately the point was – don’t assume you know anything about anyone’s life.

          • Roxanne

            We all know you’re a bitter woman who thinks you’re better than us and that we know nothing about life. You’ve made that quite clear.

          • Me

            Sounds like the one making generalizations here needs to do the growing up!

    • Jenny

      I’m going to disagree and say that I don’t think a size 14 is “too big.” Too big for exactly what? Diet is a billion dollar industry based on women not liking themselves.

    • Angelika

      A size 14 is not fat or unhealthy, this is why girls become anorexic listening to dumb people like the ones above me. A size 14 is supposed to be so unhealthy but it is only one size bigger than that girl in the photo, I doubt that woman is unhealthy, maybe if the average size was an 20 or 22 it would be unhealthy but some women look good and are healthy at a size 12, 14, 16. Not everyone wants to be a twig.

    • Paige

      As far as sizes go, as Klemmi said, it’s all relative. I’m 5’10 and about 160, which is a healthy BMI. I fit into a size 6, which I just dont consider a “plus size” at all, with curvy hips and thighs. I tried modeling in high school, and was told numerous times that I was to big.

    • CiCi

      I think it’s more important to be healthy (and feel healthy) than to focus just on size. You can be on the heavy / skinny side and still be healthy if you do things like eat right, exercise, and take good care of yourself. Every body’s different ;)

      ps, this model Katya is absolutely stunning!!

    • tab

      i find this picture a little disturbing, not eye opening.

    • Jane

      Size isn’t the big issue, it’s health, if your curvier than the proper bmi says you should be there are other factors, like blood pressure, cholesterol , sugar/ insulin levels, these are the primary things to look at, not whether some one is a size 6 or 16

    • Jenny

      Lexie is absolutely right. Until I was 30 years old, I anything I wanted in any amount and was Never over a size 7. I could not gain weight, lol

      • suzy q:)

        Jenny, every person is different. Some people can stay thin while eating whatever they want and how much, and others, not so much. I run cross country and track, and as a serious athlete, I eat very healthy, but that doesn’t mean i dont have to avoid junk food. I eat alot sometimes and don’t even gain anything;). Im 5’7 or 5’8 (somewhere in between) and weigh 130 lbs. i used to think i was fat a few years ago, and i feel alot better about myself now!! And i agree with Klemmie because I don’t see why a size 12, 14 or 16 is soooo normal for a middle aged woman. it’s still fat. I would say a size 8 looks healthier. Just because youre middle aged and have had kids, hormones, etc. doesn’t mean it’s ok to gain weight and be fat. just exercise regularly and eat healthy, no matter what. Some people may not lose weight like others do because of thyroid problems or genetics. Everyone’s different in their own image♥

        • Moxie

          Um, for some people, a 12 or 14 does not mean they’re fat–it comes down to body composition and a bunch of other things. Just like being heavier than 150 lbs or whatever other arbitrary number you pick. There’s no perfect size/weight that applies to everyone, because we are not all the same height, nor are we structured the same. I am 5’10″ and 165 lbs, athletic (mostly roller derby and yoga), and no one ever accurately guesses my weight or size. Who are you to say that a size 8 looks healthier, across the board? Apparently the cultural fuckup-ery the “fitness” industry has enacted has been really successful on you, huh?

    • Alda

      Does anyone ever think of personality and havin a good heart verses what size thier butt is ? This world is too full of evil and corrupt and stereotype. Why dont we focus on being healthy happy and good people instead of what “size” we are suppost to be. I’m not a thin woman nor am I huge. I concsider myself curvey with a great smile and sparking personality which has given me the love of my friends and family and THAT’S what’s important in life.

    • BBT

      I don’t think half the morons who are commenting here about number size realize that pants sizes mean NOTHING.

      I am 125 lbs and 5’2-3, I can wear a small, medium or large, I can be a size 9 in one brand’s pair of pants, a 12 in another and a 4 or 5 in another still!

      Vanity sizing is ridiculous, a size 1-3 in most stores fits very very very thin girls, when back 30 years a 1-3 was closer to average, and 18+ was considered rather ‘plus’. Numbers get smaller because it makes people feel better about their size. There was no such thing as 00 30 years ago.

    • Mslux

      Why is there so much focus on the size that’s printed on a woman’s clothing tag?
      Weight vs. height AND diet + activity level….. That’s what determines whether or not someone is healthy. The end!
      Stop debating which specific pants sizes are acceptable. How ignorant.

      • Roxanne

        Right on.

    • Amy

      BOTH of these women are beautiful! I’m just tired of men & women telling us that the one on the left can only be “acceptably beautiful”

    • Christine

      I’m a size 10-12(depending on brand) and have been that way for 15 years and had 2 kids so I feel that is where I think my body wants to be. What bothered me this christmas I went to walmart to buy some matching pajama bottoms for my husband and son. Walmart was the only store that carried a certain cartoon. I need an x-small or small in mens for my son and saw none. Walmart informed me that they didn’t carry x-small or small in the store. I have to special order online. They now carry 1x-6x mens instead. They said the demand for 3x-6x was greater then size small.

      • Me

        THAT is sad!

      • Roxanne

        Now THAT is definitely sad and wrong. Children becoming more and more overweight/obese is what really needs to be addressed more.

    • ayva

      if that’s the case I’m 6 or 8 it depends on the fabric then I’m overweight? seriously?

    • Tara

      EVERYONE should be accepted. I myself eat very healthy and I’m overweight. It’s all about how your body processes food. Fat, skinny, tall short, ugly or pretty, everyone is beautiful in my eyes(:

    • cindy

      Neither one of these models looks healthy at all. They both need toning and muscles. The plus size model would look healthy if she lost 10lbs and got toned. The thin one would look healthy if she gained 10lbs and worked out too!

      • Amanda

        Ummm that’s the dumbest thing I have ever read! Just because they look “soft” in that picture doesn’t mean they’re not muscular. You don’t have to have toned looking muscles/muscle definition lines to be strong and muscular. Heck I’m sure those girls do have muscle definition lines, but they probably get photoshopped out as most men like women to be softer looking and not have a lot of muscle lines/definition. Both of those models probably work out everyday, have a personal trainer, and have a strict diet. You are being ignorant and shallow.

    • Stevie

      Umm you sound really ignorant and mean in your personal opinion. At a healthy bmi for myself, I have very wide set hips and wear a size 14. Maybe I could loose 10 pounds, but I workout with a personal trainer 3x a week and could probably out run or swim you. I am extremely healthy and I eat desert when I feel like it. But even if I was a size 26, why wouldn’t I be allowed to feel beautiful? Being represented as beautiful even if you aren’t the healthiest person in the world isn’t telling women that they shouldn’t be happy, those women already know all the reasons to be healthy for health reasons. But it’s not that easy for everyone to be perfectly healthy, isn’t that why everyone’s new years eve resolutions have already succumbed to the pressures of work and school. A woman who is a size 26 now is still beautiful, yes she should try to be healthier, but it doesn’t change the fact that all women are beautiful. I think we should celebrate even the heaviest women, they should be allowed to feel beautiful no matter what.

      I hope you consider how your comments make 50% of women feel.

    • Sarah

      For starters, those two girls look like two different species of human, and that’s just plain crazy. That being said, I love seeing something like this. I’m a size 12 on top and 10 on the bottom; people say i’m apple shaped, which doesn’t exactly make me feel sexy. My dad always refers to this weight watchers commercial he saw as a kid, with a quote, when you’re size 12 the honey moon goes on forever. It’s funny how in America bigger’s considered better, except when it comes to body size, despite the fact we’re apparently growing. Which probably has something to do with the majority of food we eat being made or altered in a lab rather than coming from nature. Anyway, it’s really nice to see that a woman like me, and that she can be beautiful too.

    • Trixie

      I absolutely agree with most of you on here. I say most because I didn’t bother to read the stupid fight about who’s more experienced than whom because it looked like too much work for something that would just eventually make me hate middle-aged women. Anyways! Kat and Ashley are right- these articles always tell us that a certain BMI is healthy and everyone above or below it is unhealthy. They also always compare models’ weights to the weights of anorexic girls. It’s not right at all. Some people naturally have a “fat gene” (I apologize for not knowing the correct term for it and possible offending people- that’s just what I’ve always heard it referred to as). Even if they eat healthy, they may still be above “healthy” BMI. Then there are girls like me who have a very fast metabolism. I eat junk food all day every day and I’m still 5’5″ and 100 pounds. I tried the BMI calculator and it said I’ve got a BMI of 16.6 which is according to this article “WAAAAY below healthy.” I hate that. I may not be healthy, I may be underweight, but I do not starve myself like many people so readily assume. Why is it so horribly cruel to call a fat girl a “whale” yet it is okay for people to call me a “bag of bones” close to every day? For the record I am not saying “let’s call fat people whales!” I’m saying we should stop insulting people for their weight all together- may it be overweight or underweight. I will always hate the people who say that models “need to start eating” and say that it’s “gross how they’re all anorexic.” While some may be anorexic or bulimic, some also may naturally be skinny. Articles like this just add to the assumption that “all” models have eating disorders. It’s disgusting.
      Another “for the record” thing: having 50% of the population be above a (typical) size 14 is not something we should be proud of. This article makes it seem like that should be the ‘norm’ for American women.

    • PISSED

      How come when someone calls someone FAT its rude but its okay to call someone SKINNY. They are opposites and has anyone ever considered that calling someone skinny is just as bad as calling someone fat. I dont like it and i somewhat at times take offense because i cant control it just as some overweight people cant. SO before you call someone skinny, think about how its just as bad as calling someone fat

      • http://www.fantasyonline.net/ Colin Poole

        My fast metabolism has been a plague on my physical appearance for my entire life. Right with ya!

    • Monica

      I have to say when I was thin, I couldn’t run or walk up a flight of stairs without breathing heavily. It isn’t because I was sickly thin, but because I didn’t exercise and wasn’t healthy. When I gained A LOT of weight and finally decided to work on losing it, I started to eat healthy and workout. At a size 12, 5’9″ 160ibs, I was the healthiest I’d ever been in my life. I’ve had two children since and am now a 16. As I begin to workout, I think a 14 is the right size for me and know I can be healthy at this size.

    • Timeforachange

      Most of these comments are old. However, I just stumbled on this article and couldn’t help putting my two cents in. When someone says they don’t like “skinny models” or when they say they don’t think we should have really large models because that’s “unhealthy”; I feel like we are all trying to base modeling and fashion around who deserves it. We wouldn’t want FAT women walking around in nice clothes, that would imply that society agrees with their lifestyle. We also all say we don’t want to glorify anorexic-looking waifs because we wouldn’t want to imply we agree with that lifestyle either! Can we stop trying to decide who deserves to be dressed in lovely clothing and accept the fact that everyone is different? If a grown adult woman wants to weigh 98 pounds or 298 pounds it’s nobody’s business but her’s (and maybe her doctors). In today’s mainstream society we celebrate sexual diversity, racial diversity, religious freedom, women’s rights, etc… I look forward to the day when we can finally celebrate and embrace our own bodies, and those of others without judgement of censure from the media or anyone else. So here’s to you; all you girls (and boys) brave enough to be fat, and all you girls (and boys) brave enough to be skinny, in a world terrified of body diversity.

    • ObeseSize10

      Hey, for the record you can’t go on BMI alone. I am 5’5″ 165lbs and wear a size 10, and according to BMI alone Im nearly obese. NOT TRUE at all. It depends on muscle as well. So .. never go on BMI alone.. it’s ridiculous.

    • Natalia

      The models who have a BMI that most anorexics have, means abs. nothing. We naturally thin, lean ectomorphs have that BMI mostly b/c of genetics, partly diet and exercise. Most models are chosen b/c they are already thin. You don’t think they are chose b/c they are first fat do you? Ridiculous article. Prob. written by a fat woman, they are the most bitter towards thin women. I am 5 ft 7 and 104 when in optimal shape, and 106 when a couple pounds overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Some people, granted it’s only 1.8% of the population and less than a half a percent of women – that are naturally underweight and have a BMI under 18.5 – some people just ARE thin. Get over it.

    • Natalia

      The reason there are two types of models, the really thin and the plus size overweight ones, is b/c the really thin ones sell the clothes, the plus size ones are there to be Politically Correct for the 80% of Americans who are overweight themselves, and need an ego boost.

      The reason there are no ‘average’ regular sized models, as the writer wishes for, is b/c nobody wants to see average looking women wearing clothes. It’s ‘average’ looking at best.

    • Still Disappointed

      Instead of griping about how only skinny models are promoted within the fashion industry, why don’t we actually force a change within the industry itself? Instead of creating “fringe” model categories such as Plus-Sized or fringe agencies such as Suicide Girls, force the industry to change by using the legal system to create industry standards, guidelines, and regulations like we did for the food industry or manufacturing industry? Otherwise all we’re doing is continuing to put out whiney articles like this that just spout facts and statistics.

    • 5element

      sorry that is not an average sized woman, outside the US anyway; where they are chemically poisoned, hormone disrupted, gmo’d, etc from their cheap food like products and antibiotic lifestyle. their post wwII nazi medicine and feeding regimens. unbalanced lifestyle and extreme yin or yang behavior

 

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