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. sadfj2kljkls

    Are you serious? She is NOT a plus size. The taller you are the larger your clothing will be, this does not make you a plus size... If anything she is a bit on the skinny side.

    I dont like all the anorexic fake women they usually use. Nor do i want plus size models, and by that i mean real plus size. Im sorry but fat isn't attractive, nor are the skinny as hell models they usually use.

    Why cant they just use normal women in ads. The ones who dont have an eating disorder(either too much or too little).

    September 27, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. thedarkelf

    I think women with meat on there bones or "real women"as you say are more beautiful. I find it insulting and embarrassing for the women who are 90 percent fake. The list is ridiculous,hair color,breast,lips,butt,eye color.face lift,tooth whitener,make up. I fell in love with a large girl in high school and to my shame it was an on off thing because I was able to date the "hot"girls but they didnt really appeal to me. I didnt like the fact that they did so much to look good that it effected their self esteem. And I always had more fun with girls who like to eat and are not ashamed. I felt like I was getting a peek behind the curtain of "women". As I matured I stopped being ashamed to be with them. The wacky part is,is that when she finally had enough of me she started riding a bike and eating right and lost it all. And OMG she was so pretty I always new it. Now Ive have spoke in generalities There are many women who are on both sides of the fence they are real women and beautiful,no make up they eat fine and they have depth. I just think its so sad that people can be so superficial. How many women have hurt themselves trying to be like the pubics version of pretty. Guys of average intelligence care very little about a females soul or her needs or what it even takes for them to be comfortable. To bad many miss out

    September 27, 2012 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    Want an idea of what most men want women to look like, at least superficially, visit an upscale strip joint. There, men pay big bucks just to look at or have a vicarious relationship with someone they hardly know. What those men really value in a relationship is probably unknowable and unrelated to what they see on the stage.

    September 27, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Tex

      Those wimmen are perfect. They look incredible and dance around and don't talk. Those and cheerleaders. And gymnist. Gymnist are flexible so we like them too. And they usually aren't plus sized.

      September 27, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Dnice

      Hey Tex, maybe if you could spell women, you could actually speak to one instead of sounding like a creepy, illiterate stalker. Just sayin.

      September 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    Lady GaGa is just an image. (albiet an idol, for many) The reality is a nationwide adult obesity epidemic that has now spread to our children.
    Think: Oprah Winfrey and stage of fat ladies singing "Children are our future"...with a guest doctor touting expirimental drugs for kids. (also think African children starve as we wera their diamonds)
    Image is not reality.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cruddy

    There is nothing in this world that is as sad as a woman not comfortable with her weight. If you are too skinny because you try to be stop it. If you are too big because your eating habits are bad stop it. A man wants women with curves and something to hold onto and confident about it. I honestly think that men who like really skinny women are border line pedophiles. Most of the models look like 12 year olds with and adult womens face glued on.

    September 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AK

    Women are beautiful in their own bodies' natural states. Whether you're 5'10 and 110 pounds or 5'2 and 200 pounds, THERE WILL BE MEN WHO FIND YOU ATTRACTIVE. And from what I've learned the men who are attracted to you as you normally are are most likely to share the same views on and values in life that you do. Just be you. Someone will love you for it.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      5'2" and 200 is extremely unhealthy and will lead to early death - we should not support people in their unhealthy choices

      September 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Southern mom

    test

    September 29, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Real Woman

    We are all wonderful beautiful souls. If people wouldn't focus so much on vanity or fat/skinny they would find the best friends and soulmates they say they long to find. It is a sad world to know that this day and time we still focus on these things.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      fat is not healthy

      September 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Zero

    Ah that cant be healthy, I can see her ribcage. Look there is nothing wrong with having a little meat on the bones, I am not talking 450 lbs here just over 120 lbs and under 175lbs. hieght should never be an issue for a guy if she is taller Its easier to see the view, for those don't mind, I have a preference towards shorter "5'5" women myself, But he you know to each there own.

    September 30, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. kbonstage

    While I agree with comments that obesity should not be celebrated, "real women" include, for me, those who are not airbrushed to a fine sheen. Real women just don't look like that, regardless of whether they are 5'9" and 125lbs or 5'5' and 150. Hell, models don't even look like that.

    September 30, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. larry

    Real Women. All women are real women. Some are real skinny, some are real fat. The whole concept of what a woman is really comes down to who you ask. I prefer intelligent, elegant and classy women.

    Considering that we are being honest, I think there is a huge double edged sword about looks. There is a lot that a "hot girl" can do to become unattractive, such as talking like a sailor, being stuck up or a drama queen. But – to me – there isn't much a really fat woman can do to become attractive to me – other than lose weight.

    Finally, a note to the ladies out there. Don't become just one of the guys. Cool is one thing, cutting farts, burping or just being rude isn't attractive....but then again, I am speaking for myself.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. harbharb

    We tend to obsess about the unusual. Being extremely overweight or extremely thin are both unusual conditions. Americans are becoming more overweight. There aren't so many overweight that they need to visit Omar the Tentmaker when they need new undergarments, however. Models aren't normal. Anorexics aren't normal. Neither are the people who can't get out of bed and require cranes to rescue them from their homes because they are so large. "Real" is somewhere in between for most of society.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Abby

    I loved this article! I liked it because it gave real people's opinions about a topic that I think is very important for women and teenage girls. I think it is important for girls to know that they do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. They do not have to be a size zero and have a pretty face to be a good person. There are so many great people in the world who I feel are sometimes overlooked just because they are judged by the beauty before people actually get to know them. I think as long as people are happy with who they are then that is all that matters.

    October 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mcannata

    I'm not sure how all this started, but trust me... Overweight girls with flabby midsections that hang over their pant tops. Or with so much extra weight that their bra straps get lost in the blubber are NOT attractive.

    Exactly when did we start idolizing, large dumpy woman? And yes, that now includes Lady Gaga, who, even on her best day has a face like a mule and a body I wouldn't want to see naked

    Fat is NOT PHAT people. I don't care how many chunky babes they put in a Dove commercial... they're not beautiful. They are obese dumpy looking fatso's that really need to hit the gym.

    October 2, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ted Striker

    TechGirl6806 sounds cute (serious)

    Hit me up girl lol

    October 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
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