Why Glamour’s “Special Edition” for All Shapes Isn’t Really All That Special

glamourmag1Earlier this week, I got an email from Glamour Magazine announcing that their newest special issue was now available on newsstands and as a digital purchase. The theme of the edition? Plus size fashion. Plus retailer Lane Bryant collaborated with Glamour on the issue, and is also working on a special womenswear line with the magazine.

The issue contains 96 pages of fashion, beauty, and more for the plus size woman, with only eight pages of advertising in the back (all for Lane Bryant, of course). Plus size models, beautiful clothes, an upcoming collection of clothes with a magazine’s seal of approval – sounds like something I’d be jumping for joy over as a curvy fashionista. But I have more than one huge problem with this special edition.

Most issues of Glamour – which include far more pages and editorial than this one – retail for about $4.99 each. The special issue is selling at a hefty $12.99, more than twice the price of a regular issue. Why this issue needs to be so expensive is beyond me, especially when it’s catered toward a population of women that already pay extra for their clothes to be a larger size.

There’s also the content within the magazine – almost none of it is original. Glamour often includes some repurposed content in its special editions, but nearly everything in this new one – from the cover photo to every editorial feature – is from another previous issue of Glamour. And they clearly had to dig for content that featured larger women – stories included come from as early as 2009 and 2010. The lack of care and effort for a plus-size edition compared to traditional editions is incredibly disheartening.

The other thing that disheartens me is that this edition exists at all. It’s not a new complaint of mine or any plus size woman to want to be included in fashion and beauty. There are steps in the right direction being taken – better-designed collections that don’t resemble potato sacks, a few larger models earning feature spots in ads and editorial spreads, and a movement to love all shapes and sizes and stop shaming. But these steps still need work, and they have a long way to go. Is there truly harm in selling the same clothes for all, from XXS and smaller through 4X and larger? Does it really offend or hurt anyone to put a size 20 model next to a size 2 in a magazine? Those that answer yes prove that there’s still more to be done.

When Glamour and other magazines start putting everyone in the same set of pages, we’ll finally have gotten somewhere.

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