Is it just me, or is there something off-putting about a “plus-size model” or “real woman” with almost no figure flaws? There is something freakish about a full-faced woman who’s alleged to wear a size 14 but has no double chin or  fat rolls.

Glamour magazine has been leading a crusade for awhile now for real beauty and celebrating all shapes and sizes, which is a cause to be commended. It all started last fall with this notorious photo of Lizzie Miller, which I liked, because she has an actual fat roll in it. I always cringe a little when I see a shot of a model sitting down and she still doesn’t have any semblance of a belly.

I like Glamour’s idea of feeling comfortable in your skin. But this photo from the June 2010 issue, as part of a feature titled “Real is the new sexy,” gave me pause.

The text reads, “No question Jennie Runk is smokin’ at 5’10” and about 175 pounds. But she didn’t always feel that way. ‘I used to compare myself to others, until I realized it’s better if I don’t look like everyone else.’ Her new mantra: ‘Every woman, of every body type, should be able to stand up and say she’s beautiful.'”

That’s a great sentiment, Jennie, and I agree, but you are a freakin’ knockout! She has the slightest, slightest hint of a pooch underneath her belly button, and her arms don’t look like the pipe cleaners we’re used to seeing on size 2 models, but she does not look anything like a typical woman.

I used the National Institutes of Health BMI calculator, and it gives Jennie a BMI of 25.1. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered “normal weight,” but I doubt any sane doctor would tell Jennie to lose weight. I know that when I told my doctor I wanted to be in the 140s — which would give me a perfectly healthy BMI of around 22, at 5’8″, he told me no. “You would look like a skeleton at 140 pounds,” were his exact words. This is why I do not weigh myself — that stuff makes me dizzy.

However, I do gauge my progress by how my clothes fit, and that is another reason images of plus-size models bother me. My best-fitting pair of jeans is a size 10, and the other jeans, pants and skirts in my closet are 12s. However, I have been every size from a 24W on down, and I can tell you I never, ever had the body of the plus-size models pegged as a size 14. Seeing a bigger girl who looks this good is more troubling to me than the size 2 with the pipe cleaner arms. You expect the size 2 to look like that. But here’s a girl who’s supposed to be my size — OMG, we could swap clothes — but she doesn’t have the belly or arm flab I do.

Maybe it would be for the best if magazines didn’t point out “real” women or plus-size models. They are all beautiful, and that’s the point. I’d love to see more bigger girls in print — just don’t point out how “real” or “big” they are. Because actually, they’re not.

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