September 26th, 2012
08:16 PM ET

We asked, you answered: Are we really ready to take a look at 'real women'?

There is arguably not much shock value left in Lady Gaga’s out-there and often barely there wardrobe choices. But when the superstar singer decided to bare it all this week showing nothing but a simple bikini, her bod and a few extra pounds, the world stopped to stare – and comment - once again.

Gaga, admitting a longtime struggle with bulimia, proclaimed on her blog that she was embracing her new curves and urged her “little monsters” to do the same.

Photos: Gaga's new curves and most memorable looks

Meanwhile, fashion designer Ralph Lauren made headlines of its own by hiring Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley. Lawley stands 6-foot-2 and wears a size 12.

The intense focus on fuller figures prompted Lesley Kinzel, associate editor at xoJane.com and the author of "Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body" to write a piece for CNN.com asking our audience "Are we really ready to take a look at 'real women'?"

The CNN community responded to the question in droves. Check out our roundup of conversations about body image happening on CNN.com.

There’s nothing plus-sized about Robin Lawley

drldeboer I'll say it again. 6'2 size 12 is NOT "plus" it's normal! An example I think would be "plus sized" is 5'5 size 14. And no less beautiful than anyone else if the body is well treated, healthy and fit. It's fashion designers who need to change their conceptions, not the public.

Seetheway  6' 2" and a size 12 is not PLUS size.  At that tall, a 12 is the same as a 5'2" wearing a 6.

MomWiz  Sorry, but I can't find anything "Plus Size" or "Real" about a 6 foot 2 inch, well proportioned model who is simply taller than most! "Tall/Large" (as in men's clothing designations) maybe - but plus size typically is shorter, wider and requires clothing with extra fabric in areas that are typical of the plus-size body.  This campaign is just another come-on by the fashion industry. Marie Claire does a monthly section featuring a real plus-size model, which at least is a step in the right direction!

What is a ‘real woman’ anyway?

TechGirl6806  So just because I am naturally tall (5'10") and very thin (120 lbs.), I am not considered a "real woman"?  I have always been thin and through many (failed) attempts to gain weight, I still remain the same size. I am completely healthy and actually eat more than the rest of my family but people look at me and think I am too thin. It doesn't make me any less of a real woman - nor does it make it OK for you to tell me to go eat a cheeseburger.

Steven Martin  Let's see all sizes and shapes of women. Not everyone's idea of beauty is the size 0f model.

garet821 I don't buy products that advertise plus-sized women. I'm not attracted to them, as most aren't, therefore it doesn't work for me. Are 5'6" size 1's not 'real'?

Danbun The question is: Do we want to see "nonmodel" types in ads and entertainment. There will always be some who are not the "normal" model look, as that appeals to some people and consumers. But overweight is NOT something I want to see, nor am I interested in "plus" sized models, or any other euphemism.

I don't want the anorexic type either. But athletic and thin IS what I want, and it is what my wife is.  All of us should eat properly and in moderation, and exercise regularly.  Our society should not accept obesity.

JohnnM  Yes, I want to see REAL WOMEN in the media ... digital and print.  I want Hollywood to show and promote REAL WOMEN. It is sickening to see the starving stick figures, surgical altered and air brushed portrayed as women. Free our women ... from the slavery of the fashion industry, Hollywood hype and liars in advertisement.

Putting appearance in perspective

Esther Bautista Yes, I want to see more real women like me!  But for me the issue is the media dictating what beautiful is.  Sure there are woman that are more attractive than others, but when they get the limelight and the praise, women and young girls get the message that looks and sex appeal are all that matter.  Everyone is going to get old so it's dangerous to put so much effort on trying to keep that youthful look.  I really struggle personally with the idea that I must look like a supermodel to have value or feel good about myself.  It is a tension.  I know it's a lie, but I feel the underlying issue that affects what I do.  Or maybe it's the putting of beauty on a pedestal ... it gets elevated and we worship it rather than God.  Maybe one day I will find supermodels actually envying me and my little life? Instead of the other way a round.  It is a struggle.  Beauty is not everything!  God is everything! :)  That's where I am anyway.

When the fashion world and the ‘real world’ collide

SeattleLiz  Some people are prettier than others.  It's just a simple fact.  Fashion designers want their clothes to be seen on very pretty people.    It's not their job to make everybody love themselves deep down - it's their job to sell clothes.

The problem is not that Ralph Lauren is using too many pretty people or not the right kind of pretty people.  The problem is the constant pressure we feel to compare ourselves to the people in the ads.   Then we feel bad if we aren't as pretty as someone who has been through a ringer of stylists, hair dressers, makeup artists and Photoshop image enhancers.

Here's the message I wish more women would get– YOU DON'T NEED TO BE PRETTY. Do the best with what physical attributes you have, as you wish, but spend your mental energy focusing on the talents and character facets that make you beautiful.  If you go looking for someone prettier than you, you will always find her.  Big ___ing deal.  That's not what life is about.

WmPreece  Liz, as a photographer I can tell you there are gorgeous models in every size and age that can rock any well-made clothing. They can do amazing beauty product ads and more. It's just that some don't want to go to sizes if they look bigger than their competitor - that's how fashion works.

SeattleLiz Thanks for the reply Wm– good points to make.  I have a friend who used to be a plus size model and she was a knockout too.  She is a big girl, no question, but very well proportioned and extremely photogenic.  I myself am petite and small-boned.  There is room for both of us to be beautiful, no matter whose definition of pretty you are using.

Do men face the same body image issues as women?

Mike Morrall Are there fat male models? I feel I am being unfairly compared to better looking guys.

Ed98208  Men's egos are plenty fragile. They just aren't as focused on their looks as women are because ... guess what? They aren't valued completely based on their looks by the opposite sex like women are.

Mike Morrall  Ed98208 – Get out of here with that crap. Men don't value women solely for their looks. They place some importance on a woman's looks, just like women place some importance on a man's looks. This sort of thing is like saying women value men solely for the size of their bank accounts and the power they have.

And one woman shares her size with pride!

Nicole Burns I'm going to do it ... here we go ... OK ... I am 5 foot 2 inches tall, 170 pounds, size 12, measurements are 40 / 31 / 41 and I am sexy, dang it!

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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  1. Zia24

    I would like to see real women in fashion advertising for the simple fact that I am a "real" woman. And when I am shopping for clothes, I want to see what it looks like on me, not someone extremely thin.
    Even plus-size advertising has thin women modeling the clothes. I realize that certain plus-sized women might gain weight mostly in the belly and breasts, or others mostly the hips, or whatever- so this may be difficult. An easy option would be to have a proportionate size 12 model.

    January 4, 2013 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
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