Ideologies and the Plus-Size Movement

Rhetorical Blog

I reviewed three editions of Us Weekly to try and gain a sense of some of the common ideologies that exist in our society. Most of the ideologies that I found in this magazine were lifestyle related and for women. Namely, because Us Weekly‘s target audience is women.

So, as usual, I like to get everyone on the same page when it comes to discussing rhetorical elements. Therefore, I would like to have a clear definition of ideologies. Thanks to we have a sound definition. They state that an ideology is “a set of opinions or beliefs of a group or an individual.” So, generally, what makes a society tick.

This basically encompasses, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Economic
  • Ethical
  • Political
  • Philosophical
  • Religious

Us Weekly mainly focused on the ethical and political but I came across two ads and an article that really caught my attention.

The first was an article about Revlon’s first full-figured woman to become a spokesmodel: Ashley Graham.

This is Ashley at the launch of her campaign!

This caught my attention because this is representative of an ideology that is slowly changing. Until recently, I’m talking in the last 5 years here, to be a model, you had to be a beautiful pencil. But thanks to Ashley Graham and her peers (Tess Holliday, Candice Huffine, and Tara Lynn), the plus-size model market is blooming.

Major plus-size retailer Lane Bryant, launched a campaign in 2015 called #plusisequal that emphasized the lack of full-figured representation in the media. Graham was at the forefront of the campaign.

Lane Bryant campaign for equal representation

The ideological shift is extremely interesting to me for many reasons but mostly because the traditional beauty standards for societies all over the globe are being challenged. Graham’s body positivity message has opened the doors across all platforms. She was the first full-figured woman to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and she has also had major success as a judge on my guilty pleasure, America’s Next Top Model.

Graham and the other Revlon ambassadors
Graham on set for ANTM

Graham’s article appeared in the 7th issue of Us Weekly in 2018 on page 59 Graham gives the statement “curvy girls have tons of beauty products. Because lipstick always fits.” This is indicative of the strides still to go in the fight to change the ideology. Many designers and major retailers are resisting the pull of the booming plus-size market. Despite the fact that the majority of women are technically considered full-figured.

Speaking of which, this next ad will make you question the growth of body-positivity in the media. In the last pages of ALL THREE of the Us Weekly issues that read, they had this ad for Zantrex:

the irritating ad in question.

Truth: “Weightloss is a journey”

False: This woman is in need of this weight loss drug.

This ad makes me feel like the first time I learned that a woman who was a size 8 was considered a plus size model. This woman looks healthy and beautiful but this ad suggests that she isn’t done losing weight. That she needs to take this miracle drug to drop the last of the weight.

This ad is a mere two pages from the body positivity message of Ashley Graham! But this ad just proves that this ideological shift is going to take a good amount of time.



Finally, this ad was posted and I kind of found it comical.

pistachios are good, but they don’t make you skinny.

While pistachios are not horrible for you, I wouldn’t call it the “skinny nut” This ad is feeding into the ideology that promotes skinny equals healthy. This is so dangerous and so bad to promote. Healthy is good, it’s the goal. But skinny can be very dangerous! Some woman are not built to be skinny and by telling them they are not healthy until they are skinny leads to anorexia, Bulimia, or any other number of eating disorders.

If this said anything other than skinny, I probably wouldn’t be so mad at it.

But patience is key. Hopefully, the acceptance of a body-positive outlook on fashion will reach all corners of the media. And hopefully, this modern ideology will only gain momentum!

What do you think of this ideology? Do you notice any other ideologies that are changing or that you wish would change? Leave me a comment down below!

3 thoughts on “Ideologies and the Plus-Size Movement”

  1. Thought-provoking stuff in this post. I like how you juxtapose the ads that are body positive and the ones that perpetuate the typical skinny model. The media sure likes to forget that attractiveness is very subjective and most women don’t look anything like the way they do in magazines (hello Photoshop). I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I think Western beauty standards is an ideology all its own, one that plenty of people don’t subscribe to. Great blog!

  2. I liked how you compared two modern ideologies of what is considered a beautiful woman. In my blog post, I focused on the more negative and skinny articles, so it was interesting seeing the comparison between plus-sized models as beautiful and the advertisements for weight loss which promoted thinness as the ideal.

  3. Hi Ashley,

    I think you made some really great points regarding the current (and somewhat conflicting) ideologies of beauty that exist in the Unites States. Yes, there is currently a shift occurring where “plus-size” women are being celebrated and getting more exposure (although, it’s arguable if some of these representations are accurate, as I’ve seen some ads featuring size 6 or 8 models as being “curvy”, just because they’re bigger than an ultra-skinny size 0) but then, as you noted with the weight loss ads, there is still an ideology of thinness as beauty. The contrast between the Revlon article and the diet pill ad actually creates a great juxtaposition too. I think there are definitely two conflicting ideologies present in these magazines.

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