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A Mannequin Made Me Fat

That title is, of course, me being obnoxious (shocking, I know) about all of the controversy happening over the image (above) of the plus size mannequin at an H&M in Sweden.  People are up in arms over the fact that an H&M in Sweden is using a plus size mannequin.  There are people saying that this mannequin is promoting obesity and that it should be taken down immediately.

Me and my mama circa 2001. About 10-15 pounds heavier than my skinniest, ugh.

Me and my mama circa 2001. About 10-15 pounds heavier than my skinniest, ugh.

When I gained my weight it had nothing to do with the world promoting obesity or anyone telling me it was ok or good to do it. In fact it was always quite the opposite.  Beside gaining weight due to emotional eating through family tragedies, it was the emotional eating because I was so upset that I couldn’t get myself back to where I wanted to be.  To where I once was – a too skinny, eating meals that literally tasted like nothing girl who worked out as many hours as some pro athletes.  And dammit!  I was a size 0-2.  I remember trying on my best friends jeans.  My friend who since I knew her was the most petite, small boned person… that was not my build.  I remember taking her jeans, slipping them on, buttoning them and not believing they fit. Oh my God!  They fit!  Everyone told me I had gotten way too skinny, but holy shit I fit (no, saying I fit was not a typo)!  I’m sorry, what did I fit? I fit into someone’s jeans who, genetically was supposed to be a size 0-2?  We were the same size & same height, yet somehow I still weighed 30 lbs heavier.  All muscle.  I went to the Dr. that week for my annual check up, the same week everyone in my entire circle told me I really needed to put on some weight, he weighed me.  131 was the number.  I was beaming like I deserved the big check at the end of a race… and then he told me I weighed too much for my height and that I needed to lose weight.  “Lose weight?” I said “from where?” There was literally not an ounce of fat on my body beside my big fat head that thought I needed to be this skinny.  I was a size 0-2 with a four pack and a tricep that looked like Michelangelo carved it himself.   Where was this weight going to come from?  Instead of feeling defeated, I left that Dr.’s office with a renewed idea of who I was supposed to be.  I had walked into that Dr.’s office so excited to hear, you are perfect! Yet, that wasn’t what I got.  I got the realization that everyone sees body and weight differently and that there are some people who don’t actually see what is in front of them at all.  I realized that there are people who will see an extremely healthy, sexy woman who is happy in her body.  A woman who has curves, who works out 3-5 days a week, who eats well and they will say she is fat.  That she is promoting obesity just because she isn’t skin and bones.  Don’t get me wrong, I think a strong and toned body is just as sexy as a curvy one and I think that women who are genetically supposed to be a size 0 are just as sexy as those who are genetically supposed to be a size 10.


There was a photo shoot done a few months ago that made international news where there was a “plus size” model holding a “regular size” model.  The regular size models body – to me – looks ill in these images.  I was on that shoot, it was shot in my studio with my business partner taking the images and I was doing the makeup.  I will tell you that the woman, the “plus model” in these images, is pretty healthy.  The one who was not?  The regular size model which is who we are told to look up to.

There was an out pouring of comments about this photo shoot.  Many positive, but so many negative.  Saying we were promoting obesity.  Making “being fat” look sexy.  The fact that, from these images, that was what was taken truly blew my mind.  I am the first to say that obesity is a extreme problem in the USA, but so is making women feel like they should be ashamed if they don’t fit a certain image.  We weren’t putting an obese woman in front of a camera and saying this is what sexy should look like, we were putting a healthy woman on camera and saying this is what sexy should look like.  We were not promoting obesity and we were not pushing an unhealthy agenda on people.  We were simply showing just how unhealthy what is currently promoted to us is.  Here is the thing that I feel people tend to look past when arguing this point: The majority of obese people DO NOT WANT TO BE OBESE.  No one is making light of what obesity actually is, no one is glorifying and saying “Hey kids!  Here is a beautiful picture of an obese woman holding candy and showing how amazingly fun her life is.”  If you are going to discuss promoting obesity, why not discuss the fast food companies who constantly show how much fun it is to eat a super sized cheeseburger, fries and soda?  What, just because they don’t have obese people (who are their main source of income I am assuming) in the commercials that isn’t promoting obesity?

I love that everyone will fight fight fight and say how disgusting things like these mannequins are or images like this, but you say let’s stop commercializing and promoting fast food so much and all of a sudden it’s a larger persons problem to stay away and show restraint?  So, people can show restraint there, but a mannequin will all of a sudden take over our brain like aliens invading and make us think it is OK to be obese?
Here’s what I think.
I think that we are so used to having almost nothing but size zero models glorified when their bodies -height included – is something most of us will never be. I think we are given such extreme and awful imageries growing up – that too skinny is healthy and beautiful and too fat is disgusting when they are both equally troubling.
I think that when something like this mannequin- which to me looks like a fit and toned plus size athlete (even at a size 14) – would be considered promoting obesity  as opposed to promoting a healthy lifestyle is insanity.

    Photo from Plus Model Magazine. Photographer: Victoria Janashvili. Makeup by Julia Dalton-Brush (me!) Hair by Jen Navarro

Photo from Plus Model Magazine. Photographer: Victoria Janashvili. Makeup by Julia Dalton-Brush (me!) Hair by Jen Navarro

Are there women that do promote obesity as being ok?  Yes!  And I hate that as much as I hate having women who should be a size 6-10 shrink themselves to a double zero just so she can please us.

I have a friend who goes home and her mother near starves her for a month… Literally. But she comes back and books jobs more than ever and this is who I should be fighting to look like?
I mean could you imagine what would happen if someone told the anorexic world show some restraint like we do to obese people?  There would be an uproar of how insensitive we were being. But call an obese person fat and all of a sudden we are being helpful bc they need to hear it.  To me, they are both equally as troubling and both deserve the same amount of help and respect.  Let me be clear, I am in no way minimizing the issue of bulimia or anorexia, I am just adding food addiction and obesity to the same level.

I’m on a journey to health, not to an unhealthy predisposition of what I should be or look like.

I’m sure the comments like “spoken like a true fat girl” will come with this article and that is fine because I’ve been at both sides of the spectrum.  I’ve seen the pressures of both sides and I choose health.


The world we live in now can be truly heart breaking to me.  It hurts my mind and soul to see how damn far we have come as women, yet how we still need to fit a perfect mold.  This website to me is my way out of that.  I am not promoting obesity and I am not promoting getting as skinny as possible.  I am promoting health, strength and positivity about ourselves.  If you weigh 350 pounds and you are changing your life to reach a goal of health, then you should never be ashamed of where you are and being proud is not promoting obesity it is promoting change and happiness.  Working in the industry that I do, as a makeup artist, I get to see all of the before and after pictures and here is the crazy secret… NO ONE looks as “good” as that 30 foot billboard or that magazine page you ripped out.  The model that you are wanting to mold yourself after, she doesn’t even look like that.  She has cellulite, possibly a saggier butt, but get a little photo shop going and she turns into this unobtainable person we put on a pedestal… a person that the woman in the picture doesn’t even resemble.  How can anyone ever match up to that?

About Julia

Is a successful NYC based makeup artist - you can see her work all over TV, in top magazines all over the world and she has been featured in the New York Times, Prevention Magazine and numerous other publications, she is the former beauty editor for Bloginity and owns a small boutique beauty business called Brush Beauty. She has had a few careers ranging from construction management to radio and everything in between, however, the constant passion in her life was always fitness. Even when she lost her way from it, she was always constantly motivated by athletes and anything movement oriented around her. She is the type of person who only gets star struck by people like Gabby Douglas, Matt Long, Pat Riley or Kerri Walsh and the thought of meeting any of them puts her stomach in little girly teenage knots. Favorite workouts: Bootcamps, Spinning, swimming and lifting alone with my headphone on.
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