Karl Lagerfeld To Glamour: Just What Do Women Actually Want?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on October 14, 2009

Models and weight.

A topic that is no stranger to most of us.

Recently, some headlines have caught my attention…that I knew we could have a great discussion about.

Headline Maker #1:

Glamour Magazine’s feature of a mostly naked plus-sized model in their September 2009 issue:


When I first saw this picture, I thought two things:

1) She is gorgeous

2) She is plus-sized?!

The feature of this model in Glamour magazine caused a huge stir to say the least. In fact, it inspired a huge body image revolution.

Editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive, was thrilled when Glamour magazine was flooded with supportive letters from readers. Her blog post also received over 1,100 comments, most of which were encouraging.

One woman from Pavo, Georgia said it was, ‘The most amazing photograph I’ve ever seen in any women’s magazine.’

While a man exclaimed, ‘I speak on behalf of all men: she is stunningly beautiful!’

Evidently, the people spoke, and they were saying please, please show these models more frequently!

Is this a genuine effort by Glamour magazine to feature women of all sizes or is it simply a publicity stunt as a way to generate more readers and revenues?

Headline Maker #2:

Karl Lagerfeld recently made headlines after making some shocking remarks when referring to Brigitte Magazine’s decision to feature regular women in the magazine and not professional models.

He said, "These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly,” Karl said in an interview with Focus magazine, adding “no one wants to see round women.” [Source]

Needless to say, Karl offended millions of women around the world with his comments.

Headline Maker #3:

Ralph Lauren recently came under a huge amount of criticism for air-brushing 21-year-old Filippa Hamilton in a recent Ralph Lauren Blue Label campaign featured in Japan.

Here is the ad:


I could not believe this picture when Caitlin posted the article on Twitter tonight. It just sickens me!

This is what she normally looks like below: Obviously very THIN!!!!


Note: She was recently fired due to being ‘too heavy’!!!!

It is clear to me that there is still a huge discrepancy between what the Fashion Industry thinks women want and what women ACTUALLY want!

The Glamour magazine comments clearly show that women want to see a wider range of shapes and sizes in magazines, and I would guess that this would extend to music videos, movies, runways, TV shows, and the like.

I think it is important to show a WIDE range of sizes, from thin to thick. One thing that bothers me is when people say, ‘Oh she is a REAL woman’ if she is curvy and thick. I think that is still a way to put down women who are not of a certain size. We need to accept all sizes, whether you are naturally skinny or curvy and voluptuous!

Skinny women are real women.

Large women are real women. 


We need to accept everything in between and stop this madness of thinking that there is one ideal size. There is not.

Are we always doomed to have this discrepancy? Is Karl just a product of his environment and a man stuck in his ways? Will the runway, magazines, and fashion advertisements ever change?


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

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Gillian October 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

I am hoping to see more of a movement towards a new idea of beauty. I think a lot of people are getting tired of seeing fake boobs, botox faces and tummy tucks. We all went nuts over Susan Boyle, and I think we want to see more of that. And I like that you say “Real women” should mean women of all sizes. We are all critical of ourselves no matter what we are, and need to find value beyond an image of what we think we’re supposed to look like.


Claire October 15, 2009 at 10:13 am

Now I remember why I had all those eating disorders most of my life.Hmmmm…I think I’ll go get a bagel sandwich now:-) cc


Tina October 15, 2009 at 10:32 am

I agree with you–that model does NOT look plus-sized!! Our view of what is right and wrong is so skewed. And the Ralph Lauren ad. What the heck. That looks so wrong it’s embarrassing for them. It looks totally fake on the one hand, but they shouldn’t even TRY to make the model that skinny. Ughhhh these industries are terrible.


Tammy (Defining Wellness) October 15, 2009 at 10:34 am

You know, the weird thing about that airbrushed picture is that it looks so fake, it’s laughable. She looks like a barbie doll with an oversized head. Very weird. And in real life, she is beautiful! I would have been infinitely more likely to want to buy the clothes in the ad if Ralph Lauren just used the real girl!


Krista October 15, 2009 at 10:48 am

That Ralph Lauren photo sickened me. Good Lord.

The first thing I thought when I saw the Glamour photo a few weeks ago was “Hey! My tummy looks like that!” I couldn’t stop staring at the picture because I thought she looked great….and not particularily “plus size” either….


christie @ honoring health October 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

Awesome post, Angela. As a plus sized person, I am glad to see that the media is starting to even acknowledge that was we have been taught as beautiful isn’t real. Everything we see on magazines is airbrushed and young girls don’t know that and then grow up to believe they are not good enough. I’ve done a lot of work to heal my ED and my relationship with my body and I wish I could say that I never struggle anymore but I do. But I am going to keep working on it and in the meantime, I will continue to spread the message that no matter our size, we are perfect just the way we are.


Jenn (Eating Bender) October 15, 2009 at 11:29 am

Great post, Angela. I can’t get over that picture – it really does make me sick to my stomach to see them do that to someone! The fact that she got fired makes me even more upset. I’m glad there are amazing women like you that are making a difference in society’s perceptions :)


Jordan October 15, 2009 at 11:58 am

Have you seen the new RL ad? Apparently they haven’t received enough negative feedback (or maybe it had already gone to print) to reevaluate their standards.

I’m so surprised that this comes from a company like Ralph Lauren. Juicy, Victorias Secret, Ed Hardy, etc maybe, but Ralph Lauren, Gap, JCrew, etc always just had this classic look to their models. Really sad state we’re in. And I can’t even get started on Karl Lagerfeld, pssh!


Becky October 15, 2009 at 12:22 pm

This is a great topic! It is something women have struggled with for so long. There are the ones killing themselves and starving themselves because society says they are not skinny enough and then there are the ones having surgery because society says they are not curvy enough! Yes, I am trying to loose weight because I’d like to look better on my wedding day, but I am also striving for health so I can be here as long as I can for my children. Every woman is different and we should embrace what we were born with and make the best of it. I have looked at a thin healthy not so curvacious women and thought “She is beautiful. No wonder people fall all over her”. I’ve also looked at a healthy-looking curvacious woman and thought the same thing. The portrayal of women in the fashion world is what I consider to be unhealthy.

As for what KL said, it is not the thin model that people consider “ugly”. It is the airbrushed unrealistic version or the ones that just look like a shell of a person because of all the pressure they go through to be in that industry. I may not be at my ideal weight but I am certainly not a fat zombie eating crisps watching tv either. Furthermore, when I reach my ideal weight, it will be the weight I feel is ideal, not that society has deemed as ideal.

As for


Kat - Curves for Life October 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm

This makes me want to cry. I wish we could stop even mentioning sizes and weights. Rather than talking about weight loss and weight gain we should just assess how our daily lives are working out for us and how we feel.

In my closet I have at least 4 different sizes that all fit the same. I hop on one scale and it says I am 10 pounds heavier than another scale. Why do I care?


Cynthia (It All Changes) October 15, 2009 at 7:37 pm

The last two just horrified me. I hope that the glamour photo is just a start to showing real women of all sizes in magazines. It’s unfair that some models starve themselves just so they can model. Being a regular person is just as beautiful.


E.S. October 15, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Wow. That is rather sad. I have always been rather been offended by the unrealistic “skinnY” models in skimpy dresses. The models lives are so empty. I don’t really think they’re very happy and I feel so sorry for their vain lives. That isn’t right to put a woman into a mold of a certain weight, height, and required measurement. That makes me kind of upset but I just hope that the whole “fashion model” fad goes away. I really do not appreciate it and cringe at all the magazines lining the racks at grocery stores. Wow Angela. I’d much rather be fit and happy then thin and unhappy… But, that’s not to say that there aren’t girls who are naturally thin. And they’re are girls who are naturally just average. Just don’t press them into a mold that they are not. :-) Right?


AGS October 15, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Without a doubt, the fashion world shapes how I view myself. I have a great body — I know it, my husband tells me so, and so do countless others. But I’m not “skinny”. Thin, yes. Fit, yes. Great definition, you bet. But “skinny”. . . no. And I *still* find myself thinking that I’m not “thin” — model thin, that is. I’ve spent some time trying to figure it out, and I’ve been left with the simple conclusion that “seeing is believing”. Why I see tends to inform what I believe about the world, just like what I smell tends to inform what my appetite is.

But there is something interesting in this. Namely, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fashion world. You think most of the people in fashion give a d-mn about you and me? They live in their own world. And, that is a real world — a world where women (and men) are paid based upon how they look. Just because that will never be my world doesn’t mean they have to modify their photos. If that’s what they want to do, who am I to say they can’t? The fashion world, like the artistic world, will always tend toward extremes. I think the “full model” is just another avenue of expression and experimentation for the fashion world.


kb October 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

I think the Glamour picture was a stunt, but I also think if good comes from it, then it doesn’t matter that they “only” did it to raise sales. Adding self-esteem to the world doesn’t always have to come at a sacrifice. My problem is, they had that one small picture that took up, what? A fourth of a page? In one issue. In the page numbers >100. I’d be much more impressed if they had a regular feature, and made it a full page photo. It seems like that would help the magazine sales, as well as being good for the world.


Lisa-Marie October 19, 2009 at 10:14 am

Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t like round women and he THINKS he speaks for everyone, but he obviously does NOT.
The Ralph Lauren model looks completely deformed to me. It’s a pity the model’s photo was airbrushed and I can’t believe she was fired for being too heavy!
The only way to get magazines to do what WE want is to write to editors and tell them and then stop buying the magazine until they change.
Why do we need them anyway?? I look at fashion as art. I’m an artist when I create an outfit to wear, whether I bought the clothing at a regular store or a thrift shop, or I’ve kept something from another decade and brought it out again because I like it. Not because someone told me that I ought to like it.
Sheesh! Let’s stop being a bunch of sheep and start being the bunch of unique individuals that we always SAY we are!


Jen October 20, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Have you seen the most recent RL ad? http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/2009/10/ralph-lauren-hits-keep-on-coming.html


Beverly October 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Hi Angela! Obviously I am very behind in my Google Reader, hence the super late response!

I don’t comment often, but when I saw this ad in Glamour I was floored by how beautiful this woman is. I immediately showed my husband, who said she was the most real and beautiful woman he’d ever seen in a magazine. Inparticular, he said it appears as though she has been pregnant at some point, which makes her that much more beautiful (he thinks pregnant women are amazingly beautiful).. his comments really struck me and I was so encouraged by them!

Not sure if this show is on in Canaba, but “One Tree Hill” is one of my favorites! Right now they are dealing with this very issue of female body image. One of the characteers is a clothing designer and was holding a fashion show. One of her models was unavailable, so she had her assistant stand in. She walked the runway in a trench coat, and at the end of the runway, ripped it open to reveal her in shorts and a tank top, that said “zero is not a size.” In the show, the designer wants to start a whole line based on the slogan, and I love it!!

I’ve also been meaning to let you know about a song that came out a few months ago… I think of your blog everytime I hear it!! “Fight Like A Girl” by Bomshel. Makes me cry everytime… great message! :-)

Keep glowing!!


Christian November 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I love a woman with curves. Nothing like snuggling with a curvaceous woman!


kristy November 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Glamour has too thin models. All the magazines have too thin models. STOP SUPPORTING THE MAGS. Take some action instead of yammering about it. We got to vote in N.Amer because women took action, not because they complained about men voting.

I am tired of hearing the constant whining about its the magazines fault. It’s your fault you subscribe to this tripe. Yes we are bombarded by messages, however we can remove a lot of them from our lives and shelves. ACTION people.
Rubenesque, Twiggy, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it changes all the time. Mags and clothing designers are in the business to make money. Hit there where it hurts. I will not die(t) to be a size 0 so I can buy that gorgeous little number.


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