|SLiNK Magazine - Issue 13|
Magazines in the western world are filled with air-brushed images of models ranging from sizes 0-6 and stuffed with articles about bikini bodies, juice diets and celebrity cellulite. Concerns are growing over the impact this has on women's body image and self esteem especially when in reality, 4.9 million women in the UK wear a size 18+ and the plus size clothing market has grown by 47% since 2006.
Clearly, magazines do not reflect the average woman. Women wearing sizes 10-12, like myself, are classed as 'plus size' by the fashion industry standard, regardless of whether a woman is a healthy weight, in good health, has a balanced diet and a pretty decent level of fitness.
I think a major flaw with mainstream magazines is that they view being thin and finding new ways to to eat less as every woman's 'aspiration' - rather than encouraging women to aspire to health and self confidence. For the record glossy mags, my personal aspiration is to eat *more* food by increasing my metabolism, get stronger in the gym and leaner in terms of body fat percentage rather than weight. Basically, I aspire to good health and would appreciate it if the media would back off telling women what dress size and body shape health comes packaged in.
SLiNK magazine, published privately by Editor In Chief, Rivkie Baum, is the first glossy I've heard of to feature women of a range of sizes in the fashion editorials. SLiNK magazine also has articles on travel, beauty and food (which do not mention diets but instead focuses on taste and high quality ingredients!). In issue 13, I particularly like the feature on 'Glass Ceiling Barbie' in which the argument is put forward for the need for a 'super-awesome average Barbie' with measurements that reflect the average woman, rather than a Barbie doll that goes from one extreme of a disproportionally small size, to the other extreme of an 'obese Barbie'. The point is also made that it'll take far more than adjusting Barbie's measurements to 'cure' the way girls think about their bodies.We need to take this same approach to all forms of media, including the models featured in magazines, as well the way we talk about our own bodies.
Instead of focusing on size and how much physical space we take up (or not), we should value ourselves as people and aspire to be in the best health we can be and feel confident enough to go to the swimming pool or gym, head to the beach and undress in front of our partners. All of this begins by not comparing our bodies to the bodies of others, challenging those who feel entitled to have an opinion about how we (or others) look and boycotting media sources that make us feel bad about ourselves (the primary reason I've ditched glossy magazines for books on nutrition, cooking, fitness and self esteem - I'm far happier for it!).
I have no doubt that others will argue that plus-size media, such as SLiNK magazine 'encourage obesity' and the photo shoot featuring cakes would likely be used to lend support to this argument. However, I would counter-argue that there are many healthy women out there who still eat cake and that this photo shoot is clearly a shock tactic to tip the balance of the usual juice fast and diet features found in magazines.
In terms of the models featured in fashion editorials, I feel there is a real need for more diversity in the media - including sizes, shape, age, and skin colour. Without this diversity, people will continue to have narrow ideas of what it means to be beautiful, resulting in low self esteem. These narrow minded images are not aspirational, but damning for body image and counter-productive, as we all know, people with low-self esteem are unlikely to value themselves enough to commit to a healthier lifestyle ("I will never look like that model so what's the point in trying?").
I wish a magazine like SLiNK had been around back when I was a size 18 and feel really crappy about the way I looked. Instead I relied on the complements and confidence boosts from my network of support on MyFitnessPal and the friends I made at the gym and swimming pools who cheered me along and encouraged my healthy habits rather than criticising my body's shape and size.
SLiNK magazine is available to purchase via the company's website: http://www.slinkmagazine.com. Print copies are £3.95 + p&p and Digital downloads are £2.95.
The magazine also has a free app for Android and iPhone users (available to download here) to keep readers up to date between the bi-monthly print and digital editions. The App brings together all off the magazine's social media streams, the recently launched SLiNK Chat - Youtube show, a linked list of fashion bloggers to follow and a comprehensive, global list of fashion and lingerie brands that cater to plus size fashion.
Over the coming months SLiNK will also be announcing the international stockists for the print edition of SLiNK magazine. Having recently launched their sister company, designer online fashion store, SLiNK Boutique http://www.slinkboutique.com and relaunched its online platform http://www.slinkmagazine.com into a more user friendly, blog interface, SLiNK now intends to concentrate on the growth of its print edition.