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July 26, 2010

Does Cosmo Think Hilary Duff Is Plus-Sized?

There's an article in the August issue of Cosmo called "The Sexiest Jeans for Your Body". According to the article, finding these jeans is a simple three step process:
  1. Locate your shape.
  2. See which styles flatter you most.
  3. Step out looking smokin'.
There are four shape categories (that should be enough to cover all the different body types out there, right?) with a celebrity example for each category: Baby Got Back, Curvylicious, Shorty, and Bitty Booty. Cute names, but not overly helpful.

So for Shorty we've got Vanessa Hudgens (sounds about right), Bitty Booty is AnnaLynne McCord (no argument there), Baby Got Back is Shakira (we'll give them that one), and Curvylicious is...Hilary Duff?

Here's how Cosmo describes the most flattering styles for "curvylicious" women:

"Wide-leg, boot-cut, and flared denim balance out fuller thighs. Opt for a dark rinse or fading in the center of the leg - both are slimming."

If I had heard that description without knowing anything about the cutesy category names, I would have assumed that this was the category for plus-sized women, or maybe for women who are pear shaped or something like that. Hilary Duff isn't really the first person that I would think of when thinking about people who need "slimming" pants that balance out their "fuller thighs". (Not that anyone of any size ever really "needs" to wear anything just because it's allegedly slimming.)

Here's another recent picture of Hilary:

Actress Hilary Duff glams it up to visit a doctor's office in Beverly Hills, Ca on July 15, 2010 Fame Pictures, Inc

Wow, it's so courageous of her to be out in public with her fuller thighs exposed like that. Good thing she's wearing a slimming black dress or we'd all be overwhelmed by her curvyliciousness.

Now, I admit that this is really far from the worst or most offensive thing that Cosmo has ever done. It's a minor point. But it annoys me because I feel like they chose these "fun" names for their categories so that they could sort of vaguely allude to the fact that there are lots of different body types out there without actually having to show anyone who isn't conventionally attractive and thin. At the same time, by throwing someone like Hilary Duff into the category with the tips that would best apply to people who are plus sized, they're basically leaving people thinking that if someone who looks like Hilary is supposed to be wearing slimming pants, then the rest of us are just screwed.

I did start to think that maybe I was being a little too hard on Cosmo on this one, but then I picked up the August issue of Glamour. It's their Jeans Issue, so they also had an article on finding the best jeans for your body. It's got twice as many categories as the Cosmo piece, and with more helpful and descriptive names: Tall, Skinny Legs, Hourglass, Apple-Shaped, Short-Waisted, Short Legs, Plus-Sized, and Pear-Shaped. And instead of the celebrity photos, they've got before and after pictures of real women who truly fit the categories. Imagine that. There's also a piece called "What's Your Perfect Pair of Jeans?" that features a fairly diverse group of "stylish" women (models, actresses, musicians, stylists, artists, and even a blogger) talking about their favorite jeans. There are a couple of seriously "curvylicious" women in there, and they look awesome. So I think the lesson here for Cosmo is that it's really not hard and doesn't take much to show your readers just a little bit more respect.


Niki said...

Here is another reason why this article is stupid. I am a curvylicious shorty. So I look at Hilary Duff's example, and I'm like, great! Wide leg stuff to make me look hot! And then I see the "shorty" examples, and judging by the picture, they're all skinny jeans. So, I need....wide-leg skinny jeans?

Why can these articles never take into account the fact that some of us might be more than one category?

Jezebel said...

Niki - Great point. Someone could also potentially be Curvylicious + Baby Got Back, Baby Got Back + Shorty, Shorty + Bitty Booty, and so on. If Cosmo wasn't so busy coming up with these incredibly hilarious category names, they might have taken that into account.

Anonymous said...

That's ridiculous. She is THIN. Like, really thin. They should have shown Jessica Simpson or Liv Tyler or America Fererra. Fuckers.

Niki said...

I've gotta say, this article also really speaks to Cosmo recognizing its own demographic. With the exception of Shakira, all these women are marketable and relevant to a particular age group: youth. We've got two Disney stars and Anna Lynne McCord, who I had no idea who she is so I had to Google her, and she's on the current generation of 90210.

So is Cosmo acknowledging that its primary readership is teenagers?

Anonymous said...

Either that or they just think all women - at any age - should try to look like they're teenagers or in their early 20s.

Marika said...

I will--cringing--say in Cosmo's defense that "curvy" and "plus-sized" are not synonyms, though they are often used as such. I am plus-sized but not curvy, I know people who are curvy but not plus-sized.

That's where my defense of them ends, though. I get the feeling that Cosmo is more interested in looking informative than in informing people.

Jezebel said...

Marika - I know that 'curvy' and 'plus-sized' aren't synonyms. It was more the combination of 'curvy' with the description about looking for slimming pants to hide your fuller thighs that put me over the top. But I definitely agree about Cosmo looking informative vs. actually being informative.

Anonymous said...

I think it's also telling that the biggest body type they ever show/discuss is "curvy". It's Cosmo's version of "plus-sized", because actual plus sizes do not exist in the Cosmo-universe.

PrettyAmiable said...

"Good thing she's wearing a slimming black dress or we'd all be overwhelmed by her curvyliciousness."

I almost choked on my coffee when I read that. Hilarious. Thank you.