Do Tall Women Have to be Thin to be Beautiful?

I was leisurely browsing through my Facebook news feed tonight and spotted this, what I thought to be a smoking hot, photo:

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“You’d hate me wearing that, would you!”, I teased my partner, expecting a lusty comment of appreciation. I wasn’t quite prepared for his answer: “Oh, I am not too sure! This picture isn’t really doing it for me”.

There was I, confused and intrigued. Surely, this perfect body dressed in a more than revealing dress (net, rather!) would leave any man drooling?? Well, not mine.

“A shapeless model doesn’t help”, he added. He was turned off by the model being too skinny…

Which led to no sale. I hope you are reading this, Long Tall Sally‘s marketing team? This dress, which got so much appreciation from tall UK women, didn’t end up in my shopping basket… because the model was too thin.

Which got me thinking and musing…

Do tall women have to be slim and thin to be considered beautiful?

Call this stereotyping, but a tall woman is normally expected to be slim and/or thin. Which I never have been. I have always struggled with the fact that my hips are large, and whatever size I am, they always will be. I used to be a size 14 about 15 years ago, and still hated my hips (especially in contrast with those skinny, skinny legs!).

I am now a happy size 18. Or not that happy. But I can firmly say that now, at the age of 43, I have accepted that this is my size, and it probably won’t change. Not in the foreseeable future. Not for the lack of trying, but, I’d say, for the love of biscuits. And for refusing to suffer!

Yes, my self esteem has always been the lowest of the low – for this same reason, combined with my, what used to be perceived as ridiculous, height. It didn’t help that I’d been married (for far too many years) to someone who used any excuse to remind me how big my bum was, that I had to lose weight and stop eating cake. Anyone guessing what happened to that marriage at all?

I just can’t help but remember this meme I recently saw (on Facebook, as usual):

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He’s still alive – just in case anyone is wondering. While I, in the meantime, had two kids and have been wearing the same size for over twelve years. Which to me is good enough (but clearly not good enough to my ex). As for my current partner, the first time I realised he liked me was when he made me a compliment under this photo (which still makes me cringe looking at my hips and waist!!):

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Yes, I will never be a model (gulp, horror!). But I am who I am. And, believe it or not, there is now a man in my life who loves me like this, with the extra few pounds that I will always carry.

So, back to my initial point… Do fashion brands need to use skinny models in their catalogues? Do you, Long Tall Sally? I am a fan of that brand, OK, which is pretty clear to anyone who follows my female fashion posts. Looking at LTS’ photos, though, I cannot quite identify with their models. Neither can I accept the idea that even skinny, perfectly looking women, might have to lose a couple of inches off her hips to be accepted as their models. After all, everyone nowadays bangs on about body confidence, so do thin models help? Or do they just reaffirm the stereotype that tall equals thin, therefore beautiful?

Having said all this, I have to give Long Tall Sally credit for teaming up with a “plus” tall fashion blogger – Bree Wijnaar, also known as The Tall Society. Now, that is what I’d call a positive change towards celebrating your body. Well done for that, ladies! So, next step is featuring plus models in your official catalogue shoots maybe? Who knows, an established (curvy!) tall fashion blogger from the UK may volunteer to help!

And oh, this last sentence is to be read in sarcastic tone – for those who didn’t get it! 🙂

10 comments

  1. Good piece Angie-K and…

    Well as a guy I can confirm that most guys like curves and softness not the tin ribs, shapeless “boyish” forms so adored by the fashion industry.

    I can relate to this image as “no shape” it’s almost pre-pubescent and not attractive to me at least. She is very pretty.

    Victoria’s Secret models on their lingerie advert similarly made me want to throw the TV out the window… All pretty but “under developed” and almost yuk to look at because they were trying to look sexy and alluring but actually looked like underage teens… This generating a yukky mixed message that jarred in the post Jimmy Saville consciousness!

    Question: why is Carol Vordermann a sex icon – answer : she has a feminine figure that yells “interesting” for everyone! So it’s about proportions and certainly a 6’+ woman will not look anything but emaciated below what?… Size 12 I’m guessing? (Sorry sizes don’t mean much to us fellas). If she’s taller still, say 6’4″ I’d guess 14/16 would still be pretty slim?

    I’m perfectly happy with whatever size so long as it’s healthy n happy, fit n balanced.

    If I sound passionate about this issue it’s because my ex wife was anorexic (which wasn’t to do with wanting to be skinny/thin but control issues around stress and work). I also had a girlfriend years ago who was “big” and a bulemia sufferer, hers definitely was about body image! So having seen the harm It does and that girls do starve themselves to be tiny I did want to chip in!!! That Long Tall Sally seem to be demanding this emphasis on thinness requires a radical rethink… Tall girls have enough to deal with being tall without being told they have to conform to stick like qualities too!!

    LTS I’ll be interested in your response!!

    Imo no model should be able to model if having less than 15% body fat – that’s the low end of professional athletic range… Fitness range is 21-24% (I.e. Healthy!!!)

    I wonder what dimensions and size this model is and if she and her colleagues come under pressure to be ever thinner?

    It’s good that plus size models are arriving mainstream and all are just as pretty or even more gorgeous than their slim counterparts!

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    • Thank you very much for such a thorough comment, Noel! I do hope that Long Tall Sally will read it, and I am sure that they will appreciate your thoughts!

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  2. When I looked at the pictures of the new collection, those were my exact thoughts! It’s so cool how far plus size fashion has come. It’s beyond weird to me that I can easily fit into about a medium when I buy clothes from LTS, while in regular stores an XL is way too small on me. I’d love to see more body diversity. I used to think being tall, I at least had to be skinny, because the only tall women that would ever be considered beautiful are models. Thankfully, I outgrew that, now I’m just annoyed when I have to try and picture what a piece of clothing might look like on me and the model is no help at all

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  3. Wow! Totally enjoyed reading this blog Angie. Very insightful piece and as a designer I will bear that mind for my next collection. I will certainly feature tall plus size models. Well done!

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    • Thanks very much, Ekene! This post provoked lots of discussions on Facebook, with many interesting comment, so I will be compiling them soon. Body confidence is the key. 🙂

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  4. You are beautiful in that picture. I am 6′ tall and a 16/18. I’m happy at a size 14 just because I feel fit. I wish more clothing lines used real life women with curves.

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    • Awww, thank you Brenda, so nice of you! I would be much happier in a size 16, but feel fit and healthy and nothing hangs off me, so have settled for 18…

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