What Is An ‘All-American’ Female Body?

Kate-Upton-weight

We here at TheGloss do a lot of reporting on Ms. Kate Upton and her ever-expanding career. As of now, she has been on the cover of numerous magazines, been in a Super Bowl commercial and achieved notoriety and criticism as being at her Kate Upton size-that-is-super-fat-except-not-at-all-wtf-people. Now, she’s taking on a major fashion campaign with shoe designer Sam Edelman who opted for Upton when he and photographer David Lipman saw her wearing Edelman’s equestrian-style shoe.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, this was because of Upton’s variation of the standard model. “We chose Kate because she isn’t stick thin. She’s beautiful and all-American.” He then proceeded to call her an “indie girl,” which is bizarre considering I don’t think people count as “indie” when they have been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s like, the exact opposite of what that means.

What I do not understand is how a body can be “all-American.” Does she have star-shaped nipples? Is her hair dyed red, white and blue? Are her legs shaved to have stripes in them or does she have a tattoo of the Kennedy family tree on her back or are quotes from Leave It To Beaver  on her — well, you get the idea. In any case, I am getting pretty sick of people defining bodies with all-encompassing terms as though women who have one particular body are what a culture’s women all strive to be. Thin Frenchwomen and big-butted Brazilians and curvy Latinas, and so on. It’s annoying that such body stereotypes exist, and it’s not making women any happier about their own figures; it just makes us feel excluded on the “all-American” bandwagon if ours don’t fit that specific mold.

Also, Edelman’s last campaign model was Charlotte Kemp Mull, who is very, very thin, making me wish that people would stop acting as though they’re doing the public and Upton some sort of favor by choosing her over standard-size models, particularly when they already have had standard-size models in their ads. Oh, good job, you went with a woman who isn’t “stick thin”… once, and had to point out this fact to everybody. Good job, you revolutionary, you.

I realize that this comment can be separated into two complete, unrelated thoughts and that maybe, his choice of words regarding the “all-American”-ness of Upton was simply because she is blonde and blue-eyed. Granted, I wish that the idea of being all-American did not include blonde hair and blue eyes — because seriously, this is not Pleasantville – but it would be a little less irritating than the concept of having there be some quintessential body type that goes with American women versus the rest of the world. There is no quintessential body type for men, unless you count “in generally good shape” for male models and many male actors; unfortunately, women have long been made to feel unwomanly if they do not possess the curves that so many people obnoxiously cite as what makes a woman “real” or whatever.

It’d sure be nice to live in a world wherein everybody stops talking about women’s bodies like they’re new models of iPhones or different types of cuisine that people are just starting to sample, imagining that it makes them cultured as a result. While the campaign itself is gorgeous, it’s now a little tainted for me because now, all I can think is, “What exactly is so all-American about this?”

Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com

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    • alexandra

      I don’t feel as strongly about statements like that in another country, but I feel pretty strongly about it in America, because the “all-American woman” actually looks like this: http://www.navajotimes.com/images/2010/CrystalWillie.jpg

    • Ana

      “Good job, you revolutionary, you.” made me LOL.

    • Rachel

      In the words of Janice Dickinson: “Blonde hair and blue eyes aren’t American. They’re Scandinavian!”

    • Wren

      I think designers and the like pat themselves on the back way to much when they use a “plus sized” model like kate upton. Wow you picked a model with tits and ass ,clearly no girl will ever have body issues ever again.