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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soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. braveoldworld

    Enough of this real women and real men stuff. We're all pretty damn real. How about we focus on being healthy?

    September 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Conor McCartney

    the plus sized girl at the end that is proud, is also at greatly increased risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. It is one thing to be proud of yourself, but another entirely to ignore the terrible health risks.

    September 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole Burns

      HI Conor, I would be that "plus sized" girl. Being my size, I am actually a very healthy 30 year old mother of two. Not only that, but a good friend of mine whom is a size 4 actually suffers from Hypertension and Diabetes and she's already had a stroke yet she's considerd "healthy" in your view. When it's your time to go it's your time to go and it does not matter what size you are. Instead of dreading how I look...I decide to embrace it and show off what God gave me. I do appreciate the concern though 🙂

      September 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • genomega1

      You have no idea what you are talking about...

      September 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      Google search 5' 2" 170 lbs and take a look at those women. Not exactly the definition of health. Be careful

      September 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole Burns

      Something else to consider is bone structure and facial features. There are plenty of "ugly" skinny girls out there that are so not Model material and there are plenty of "over weight" beautiful women out there that would put this Model to shame. Besides, Cancer and Disease do not discriminate so to say that someone bigger than a size 8 is going to become ill and cost the tax payers money and people smaller than a size 8 won't is not only ignorant and bias but frankly it's just plain stupid.

      September 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      At that short and that heavy, she's also lying about her size and fooling herself.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      I think that the real issue is that we need to embrace the fact that we are all different, and it's ok to be different sizes as long as we're healthy. I always think of dogs – some people prefer Great Danes, some people prefer Yorkies! We need to try harder to stop comparing ourselves to others and to appreciate the gifts that we bring to the world.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ThePetreausLEGACY

    (Reuters) – A decorated Army general is facing charges of forcible sodomy and engaging in inappropriate relationships stemming from allegations that got him sent home from Afghanistan this year, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

    September 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And my kid could color within the lines of a coloring book at age two.
      SO?

      My doctor says my height/weight/BMI are completely normal.
      I don't worry about whether or not I look good to some Joe Schmoe on the street; I could care less of someone thinks I'm attractive or not.
      I *am* to the ones who love me; everyone else doesn't matter.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kim

    I can't believe you choose lady caca as a example of a real women ami guess she ate her meat suit and packed on the pounds. A real women oh please

    September 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. agirlsimagematters

    About that comment, "Some people are prettier than others. Fashion designers want their clothes to be seen on very pretty people. It's not their job to make everybody love themselves …. It’s their job to sell clothes." I don't celebrate obesity but I'd rather see the pretty healthy plus size than the scrawny bony gaunt look. And those clothes that the fashion designers are selling; plus size people would buy more of what they're selling if their image were adequately marketed. People won't buy the clothes if they think they can't fit them. I recently visited a popular fashion store web site and was pleasantly surprised to see plus-sized models. In fact so please that I spent a lot of money from that site that day. Oh- and by the way, it IS the fashion designer's job to make people feel good about themselves in the clothes they wear. That's part of selling clothes. I've also noticed a trend of size 0's to 8's being left piling in the stores even after the big sales are over. Go figure! – Pun intended.

    September 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick

    In my opinion, every woman is a real woman. The truth is that weight for women, in terms of attraction, is like height for men: men like thin women, women like tall men. I like thin women. 5'2 and size 6 is definitely plus size. I am currently dating a wonderful intelligent doctor who is 5'4 and size 2 toned, and she is just perfect. So ladies, if you feel comfortable expressing your appreciation of tall men (or at least, non-short men), you should feel equally comfortable when men prefer thin women (or at least non-plus size women).

    September 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. E

    Having been with both size 1's/2's and plus size (size 14 specifically), I'll say that plus-sized women are just better. I've found that they are more likely to just let go and have fun whether that means going out for a nice dinner or just getting out for a nice walk. Just because a woman isn't a "perfect" size doesn't mean that the woman in question isn't someone's idea of perfection. For me, that perfection just so happens to be a size 14. To each their own though.

    September 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Profit

    Now, every size 18 woman will be telling herself that she's "only a couple sizes" over normal. Shift the baseline to further fat.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Adam

    It's hilarious how we have people freaking out over the obesity epidemic and then turning around and saying how plus sized women are beautiful and you should love your body.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patrick

    And by the way, if you go to Europe, you will get the equivalent of size -2, -4, etc. Size 0 is small, but not super small. 5'6 120 is average weight, not super thin. It is just that in the US the scales are totally off.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NoodleHat

    Yum... That's all I have to say...

    September 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kelly

    I'm 5'10", and have been as small as a size 6. I was totally emaciated, with all of my ribs visible, cheeks sunken in, etc. Not cute!! I have had lifelong body image issues, but now I know that the right size for a healthy me is an 8. Will that ever make me a supermodel? Nope. But everyone is different, and that's pretty great.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I just looked at those pictures of Lady Gaga in her bikini, and I could not find one thing wrong with the shape of her body; anyone who could call that conceivably overweight needs to get their eyesight examined.
    I am not a fan of Lady Gaga, but she looks absolutely healthy in those photos.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. moe smith

    If you're under 5'6 and you're over 150, you are over weight as a woman. plain. simple. period. You dont have to like it. you quite obviously wont agree because you're too lazy to keep at a healthy weight. but the fact of the matter is over 150 and under 5'6, YOU ARE FAT

    September 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Although I know that this is about women, a man would be a tub of lard at under 5'6" and 150lbs also.
      IJS.
      The "I'm husky", "I've got big bones" defense won't work, either.

      September 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • youniquelikeme

      I am 5'9 and actually am a real "plus" size. No one has ever guessed my weight and Docs are constantly surprised how much I weigh until they measure my wrists. Although it was awful growing up with teasing about my height and size, I am no longer hunched over and walk proudly. I became an athlete that excelled in dozens of sports because of my strength but couldn't sprint because of my size. Other than that I played in many sports, including hockey, where we beat most men teams who dared let us use them for practice.

      I found my forte in spite of men like you who turned into couch potatoes with beer guts, whose idea of sport is a round of golf or a walk with the dog. I was never considered husky.... but could probably beat you at most sports. My life isn't about who you "think" I am... it is about who I am... what I can do, not what you "think" I can or cannot do because of my size. And health is determined by how we care for ourselves and remarks like yours are what causes eating disorders in the first place. Most models practice drug use and poor nutrition habits and bulimia to look the way YOU want them to. That isn't healthy.

      I see Karma working on your gut as I write, Moe... and banasy is growing man boobs for his tub of lard comment. I love me some Karma.

      September 27, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. ash

    The 6 foot, size 12 model at the top is stunning, but clearly not fat or plus sized.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
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