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. JUGGERNAUT

    @Conor McCartney

    dont listen to these people.....many of them live in denial, you are spot on.,

    being fat will put you at health risk like it or not and people can invent all the stories they want fat people are at a higher risk to contract many diseases and that is a scientific fact.

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

      ACtually thats a scientific theory, which can NEVER be proven right; only wrong. Look it up. "Scientific fact" is just what we have all accepted and put our faith into as the most realistic answer. But it is NOT absolute. Also, being fat does't put you at risk for disease. Being obese does.

      September 27, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. MoMo

    PEOPLE CAN MAKE UP all the excuses they want, it is a scientific fact that fat people are more at risk to contract many diseases, especially heart problems.

    so you can lie to yourselves or invent whatever stories you want....facts are facts.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logic hurts

      Do you think this model is fat?

      September 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Morgan

    I bet 70% of the women I know are a size 12-16 and I do not consider them "fat" or even "plus size".

    My goodness what has the world come to?

    I cannot remember how many accounts I have read of women who do not eat a healthy diet so they can be the size 2 they need to work as a model. Can you say, "Eating disorders"?

    September 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dave

    Look ladies...if you're out of shape, guys are less likely to be attracted to you...it's really that simple. Most of us (not all of course) are attracted to toned women with tight tummies. If that's not you, then either accept the fact that a lot of guys aren't going to dig your appearance, or do something about it.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Good advice that apply to both genders.
      Fatty bubalatty men are a major turnoff for women, too.
      That beer gut that is okay for poker isn't going to cut it if you want to poke her.

      September 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      I don't know if it's necessarily true that "most" men are attracted to toned, flat-tummy women. I know my husband is not much attracted to "athletic" women at all (such as Jennifer Aniston) but rather voluptuous women like Sofia Vergara. And for the record, I'm 5'10" 135lbs and a size 4 so it's not like I'm trying to make myself feel better or anything. I'm sure there are a lot of men attracted to thin, athletic women...but perhaps not most 🙂

      September 27, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • RasPutin

      @Ray. No, MOST men are attracted to women in decent physical shape. Men don't vary that much. Toned curves are always better than jiggly curves.

      September 27, 2012 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. come on people

    Being too fat is unhealthy. Being too thin in unhealthy. Moderation. Have a slice or two of pizza. Don't have 6.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. timmyteetota

    Boom boom; bring it in and ease it down plus size style

    September 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MoMo

    THE FUNNY THING is that MANY MANY MANY women are not attracted to fat, sloppy man.......you can lie all you want or make up any type of stories. the fact is that many of you women fantasize about a younger Bratt Pitt and a younger Clooney.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Nah, older Clooney is still fine with me.
      Just as y'all want trim, het, so do we.
      Cuts both ways.

      September 27, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Youareallidiots

    Everyone is getting stuck on the word Plus Sized. Women of any height in the modeling industry over a size 6 are considered plus sized models, the article is about how they are shifting this standard, NOT about promoting obesity. Take a look at the picture of the model above, if you feel that she is promoting obesity then you probably have a problem. Also, all of these guys who are going on about how they only want these tiny stick thin girls who look perfect probably have never been laid.

    September 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rep

    Let's get over ourselves. American has an obesity epidemic...not the reverse! If we did, I'd understand wanting to promote more "plus sized" models. But I recently read that they project that more than 50% of American adults will be obese by 2030 at the rate we're going. If seeing skinny models makes people (women and men) in this country strive to be even a little more active and conscious about not gaining a lot of weight, that's FAR better than the alternative.

    Get comfortable with being overweight?? What happened to us? No wonder I when I travel to Europe everyone stereotypes Americans as being too fat.

    p.s. I agree that there’s nothing "plus-sized" about Robyn Lawley!

    September 27, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Chloe

      I have been living in Europe for 4 years now and it's really no different. America is just a bigger country with more shows on tv for Europeans to judge us. In England they love their fried foods, french fries (offered with every meal it seems), and "puddings". In Germany their portion sizes at restaurants are enormous. In France they love their coffee with breads and cakes (pastries). And let's not even go to the copious amounts of beer consumed all around. It's an epidemic everywhere but with that said, Europeans do a lot more walking then Americans and therefore aren't grossly obese (250 pounds plus). When I hit a size 12 (5"5) after a leg surgery I fought back hard. Now in a size 8 and would be happy there since I am in my mid-40's, healthy, and feel great. People need to take ownership in their health!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Real women. What is that? Women that aren't constucted from polyurethane?

    September 27, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. dazzle ©

    There is so much focus on women's body issues and guys seems to do a better job at not making it a key focus. Currently so many young woman suffer from bulimia and anorexia in search of the holy grail of being thin. When I was in my teens I won a beauty contest and one of the prizes was an opportunity to model. I was 110 pounds and 5'3. When I went to the modeling agency in New York they told me I was too short and needed to lose 20 pounds. I was appalled that they thought I was too fat. I blew it off then but it took some affect on my self esteem. Now decades later, I weigh 5 pounds more than I did then and of course haven't grown an inch. It takes a lot of discipline to maintain your ideal weight but I never diet, eat only when I am truly hungry, and eat only food that is good for my health. Being active is also key. As a mom to a 20 year old daughter, I have worked hard to instill the value in her that she is much more than a number on the scale. Her work takes her into the world of television at times and the first question I get is "Did I look fat on air?" The answer is always "of course not." She stands 5'6 and weighs 120 pounds. Too much pressure on young women to be super skinny which is just are harmful as being too fat. Glossy fashion magazines with air brushed models is not helpful if anyone looks at these magazines as reality.

    September 27, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Justin T.

    At one time I was a kinesiology and biology major in college and I'm also sort of a health nut myself.

    I had a full ride college track scholarship, I was in the Marines, and I used to run 5 miles a day.

    I'm crippled now due to a high speed motorcycle accident in 2010. I have to walk with the assitance of a walker at 25. Due to my disabilities and surgeries I've had since my accident I could be like a large portion of handicapped people are, overweight.

    However, due to my college education and my previous life of being an athlete and health nut, since my accident I've put myself on a diet and I still expercise when I can.

    Currently I'm 6' tall and 155lbs, I have a 6 pack and decent arms, chest, and back.

    I'm having my third major spinal surgery tomorrow actually that will hopefully be my last one. Once my spine is where it needs to be and I'm in less pain I'll be spending a lot more time in the gym. I'll likely get back to near my normal weight before my accident of 170-180lbs.

    Being overweight with my disabilities would certainly do nothing to help me, that I know for sure. It's my personal choice to stay in shape and at a healthy weight. Many studies, and solid scientific evidence show that those with large amount of fat have a myriad of health issues. They're at a much greater risk for many illnesses and in some cases such as heart attack and stroke even sudden death.

    Though there are certain diseases that cause people to be fat, 90% of the human beings on this earth do it to themselves and don't have an excuse. They consume much more food than they should and don't exercise enough to burn the calories.

    An ability our species and many others share is that when we consume more calories than we're burning our body converts these extra calories to fat. This process has been programmed into our bodies through evolution and is done so that if a time comes along when we don't have access to these ample food supplies we then will not starve to death instantly. Due to the fat that's stored on our bodies we have an energy source to keep us going for that much longer until a better time arises or we're able to find wmore ample food supplies.

    It's not all of our faults though, a large portion of the blame in this lies with the food industry and the government. The food industry sells us very unhealthy food that's full of addatives and is cooked in very unhealthy ways. Millions upon millions of people die every year from diseases caused by being over weight that's caused by these unhealthy foods. The government allows the food industry to sell this poision to us because they get taxes from it and the medical care it cause so the food industry will just keep selling it. The food industry as a whole needs to start serving healthier food, and the government needs to start controlling the stuff the food industry serves.

    I mean, I'm a human...who doesn't love some ice cream, a candy bar, a soda, some fried chicken, whatever? We all just need to learn to put the fork down sometimes, and pick up the barbell instead. Do you want an ice cream sundae? Fine, have your treat, we all do it. Just do it in moderation.

    September 27, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Leah L

      Right on. Hoorah brother. People need to understand it isn't about obsession its about control and moderation. I like you was injured and like you put on weight. But adjusting my caloric intake and finding new ways to be active that my leg can tolerate has resulted in being back to my fighting weight within a year.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. albie

    I can tell you exactly why fat women are not attractive - it is because they are no longer shaped like humans. who in god's name is attracted to a potato shape? Fat is not healthy and not aesthetic and no amount of lobbying by overweight people is going to change human nature. Healthy (not fat) and young women will always have power.

    September 27, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. Nicci

    Men:
    If the main thing that determines how attractive I am to you is whether or not I am the "right" size, then I'm not at all interested in you.

    I enjoy being the size woman who men say is just right to have something to hold on to.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Nicole Burns

      I agree 100%. People associate being a size 12 as obese however I am more of a hourglass shape / pear shape not apple. It depends on where the weight is distributed. I now have boobs and a butt that I never had before and most men I know love it! At the age of 30 I still get hit on, maybe not by the same kind of guys I did 10 years ago but there are men out there who love a woman with curves. Look at Christina Aguilera, a lot of people say she is fat and over weight but I think she looks stunning!

      September 27, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. bluegillonthefly

    My wife is a 5'2" size 0. That's real.

    5'5" size 6? That's real chunky. Not fat or obese, but sure not thin.

    Is there such a thing as a BBW? Only for people with a fat fetish.

    Note that I'm not calling myself a specimen of hot masuclinity. In 10 years of marriage I've gained 30 pounds (from being a fit 5'9" 155). The difference is that I'm not a hypocrite about it. I've got a gut. I freely acknowledge it. I even slap it like a rikishi (sumo wrestler). But I don't go around calling myself an FAHM (Fat-A$$ Handsome Man). You can be big or beautiful. Pick one. I'm going with big for now, myself, but I'm comfortable with that and comfortable with saying I'm fat. I don't pretend it's good looking. You BBWs need to admit the truth, too. It'll set you f ree.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Arianna

      Bluegillonthefly, In what alternate universe is a size 6 "chunky"? You realize a size 6 generally correlates to a 26 inch waist on size charts? I would know, because that is my waist size and I am far from obese.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • meili242

      seriously what planet are you some of you people from? I'm 5'6" and according to my dr a healthy weight for me is between 145-153 pounds. At that weight I'm a size 8/10. I have no idea how a size 6 would be considered "chunky". size is just a number. Some people are built differently and have to wear a larger size to account for larger hips, longer legs, longer torso, etc. I couldn't cram myself into a size 6 if I tried!

      January 4, 2013 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
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