Sunday 23 July 2017

If Kate Upton is the face of the curvy revolution, there's no hope for us

Kate Upton covers Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue
Kate Upton covers Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue
Kate Upton covers Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue
Kate Upton attends the "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Huffington Post)
Model/actress Kate Upton is seen departing the Bowery Hotel on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
Model Kate Upton arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Model/actress Kate Upton attends the 2016 LACMA Art + Film Gala honoring Robert Irwin and Kathryn Bigelow presented by Gucci at LACMA on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for LACMA)
Kate Upton attends "The Other Woman" UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on April 2, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
Kate Upton attends the new Gold Collection fragrance launch hosted by Michael Kors featuring Duran Duran at Top of The Standard Hotel on September 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors)
Barbara Palvin for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue 2016. Picture: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Kate Upton seen at BBC Radio One on April 27, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/GC Images)
Ashley Graham features in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Picture: Ashley Graham/Instagram via Sports Illustrated
Model Gigi Hadid prepares backstage at Tommy Hilfiger Women's Spring 2016 during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Pier 36 on September 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger)
Kate Upton
Kate Upton attends the UK Gala premiere of "The Other Woman" at The Curzon Mayfair on April 2, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Let's hear it for Sports Illustrated.

One year after featuring size 16 model Ashley Graham on the cover in a history-making move, editors have chosen yet another "curvy" model for a coveted cover spot - Kate Upton.

Kate Upton covers Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue
Kate Upton covers Sports Illustrated's 2017 Swimsuit Issue

At just 23 years old, Kate is already on her third Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, a virtually unheard of feat when it comes to swimsuit modelling, and is often hailed for her "curves" (i.e. cleavage).

Similar to the 2016 issue, which signalled a move into a more diverse offering from the usual skinny-blonde-in-St-Barts-in-a-bikini theme which has made the mag such a resounding success since 1964, this year's theme is "body diversity and age inclusion".

So far, so good.

Now, here comes the kicker. This may come as shock to some readers, but Kate Upton isn't fat.

The photos that made Kate an internet sensation. She walks the runway in a barely there bikini for Beach Bunny Swimwear in Miami.
The photos that made Kate an internet sensation. She walks the runway in a barely there bikini for Beach Bunny Swimwear in Miami.

She isn't even a little overweight. She doesn't even have love handles. Or a shadow under her chin.

She has a large chest, a neat bum, a flat stomach and an impressive lack of body hair.

And here is where this magazine, which I have enjoyed watching evolve in recent years, gets it wrong - in fashion, Kate Upton is likely considered morbidly obese; but in real life, she is positively tiny.

"Kate is the woman who launched a thousand ships and changed the direction of the industry just by being on the cover of Swimsuit. She’s developed a passionate voice about it, advocates for it, and has come under harsh criticism for it," editor MJ Day said of her choice to feature Upton as this year's cover star yet again.

Gigi Hadid walks the runway during the Tommy Hilfiger fall 2015 fashion show on February 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)
Gigi Hadid walks the runway during the Tommy Hilfiger fall 2015 fashion show on February 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/FilmMagic)

"But she maintains you should love your body and celebrate who you are and not try to change for anyone."

Is it an admirable ethos? Sure. Is it misguided in its effectiveness? Unfortunately yes.

And we've heard it countless times before.

No one is doubting claims by any model that they've been body shamed for not meeting the stick-thin requirements imposed on those in their industry, but on what planet are Gigi Hadid and Chrissy Teigen both considered curvy women whose stories about being "fat shamed" are supposed to bring us comfort?

Barbara Palvin for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue 2016. Picture: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
Barbara Palvin for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue 2016. Picture: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

Gigi famously said last year that the reason she wore a poncho during a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show is because none of the other clothes would fit her because she didn't fit the sample size; Teigen said she was once fired by Forever 21 for being "too fat"; Barbara Palvin was "fat shamed" for her turn in the SI Swimswuit Issue last year.

Hell, even Irish model Vogue Williams seems to think she's packing some extra pounds as she repeatedly referred to her "jiggly ass" during the body-building special of her On The Edge RTE series.

Their intentions should be celebrated - a group of women in their field are deciding to stand up against what it considered their norm. I just wish they didn't think it was everyone's norm.

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