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Healthy Is The New Skinny – Are YOU too fat to be a model, actor or even cosplayer?

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Catwoman by Chrissy Edwards and Esmerelda by Jason Holmes

“Catwoman” photographer: Chrissy Edwards and “Esmerelda” photographer: Jason Holmes

A coworker of mine once said “Eat to be healthy”.

I’ve heard it said that, “the British do it right.” For years their ideal woman has always been on the round side. There is something to be said about a round shaped, plump, curvy woman.

Now take one of my favorite things, Cosplay. For years women of all shapes and sizes have been dressing up as their favorite characters from video games, comics, anime and more. The convention floor holds no discrimination and no haters and if it did, they probably don’t belong there.

Men’s Fitness Magazine recently (2011) published an article titled “NY Comic Con: Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Superheroes.” Mind you this did stir up some discussion as to why reporter Jordan Burchette would “abuse his trip to New York Comic Con to take photos of unsuspecting attendees, post their pictures, and make fun of their looks.” That also brings up the fact that cosplay originated in the East and culturally worked it’s way into the US. Obesity being the #1 health problem in this country so of course many people have and are going to continue to always have something to say about American cosplayers and their size when cosplaying their favorite characters, namely anime and manga characters.

Recently the discussion of shape and size in the modeling world has been under scrutiny, and the phrase “healthy is the new skinny” is being tossed around to diffuse the controversy and give hope. Thankfully the fashion industry has become more aware of anorexic models and the dangers of anorexia nervosa. It is only natural for a model to fear adding on a couple of inches and losing a modeling gig. Unfortunate as it seems, Hollywood has not embraced this philosophy or become aware as so many actresses stress about getting smaller and smaller to play a role, simply because their agents tell them they need to lose weight. Young women for decades have stared in the mirror and back to the fashion magazines and back in the mirror and thought, “Why don’t I look like that?” This leads to insecurity and depression, followed by multiple eating disorders and, on occasion, death. This isn’t news people it’s been dismissed and not taken a closer look at for years. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, Inc:

• Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
• Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment.
• Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
• Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The non-shocker of course is women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. One percent of female adolescents have anorexia. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.

Anorexic models are common on catwalks and magazine ads. Is there any wonder why the pressure of fitting into a size zero is so intense? Take Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, who recently didn’t hesitate to explain her intense diet prior to a show. Rest assured she is not anorexic and sees a nutritionist on a regular basis especially prior to a show, however this still may give some young women a complex, if not an idea.

The main drive behind this article, is the mere fact that I am a cosplayer and in the past multiple people attacked my size by calling me fat.

“That’s Fat Woman, stop calling her Catwoman!”

“A cow in a cat suit haha”

Mind you this does not upset me, in fact I’m almost surprised that it doesn’t.

These were just a few comments posted to a YouTube video that was created in March of 2012 as an April Fools joke for Mahalo.com. Sadly, most of these people didn’t appreciate the joke or the content for what it was. All I could think about while reading was what if I were younger, not quite yet the woman I am today, would this scar me and prevent me from pursuing more cosplays? Would this remind me that I am not a size 0 and I should quit modeling and cosplaying?

Then I remembered an article that went around a while back about a British plus sized model named Lizzie Miller. In an American version of Glamour magazine an image was published of 20 year old Lizzie in her rawest, untouched form. What people didn’t realize at first glance was the small roll of fat around her tummy. What she didn’t realize at the time of course was that this image would make her famous and inspire young women whose bodies look the same around the world. Lizzie is 5’11”, usually models a US size 13-14 and has been told that she is too fat to be even a plus sized model, at least in the US. The standard plus sized model in this country is a size 8-10. I can’t even remember a time when I was that size. Miller reported that she cried after hearing the hopeful words of young women who were inspired by Lizzie’s image and were happy to see a picture of Lizzie, who said, “She looks like me and she’s beautiful.” After the photo was published in 2009, Glamour magazine was flooded with emails explaining their hunger for “real women.”

As a make-up artist I have worked with so many women of every shape, size and color. I’ll be the first to admit not the first to tell you, it’s 90% smoke and mirrors. In other words, lighting and angles are the first technique, followed by post work such as photo shop. So what you see in high fashion magazines is touched work, we have been airbrushing and “warping” photos for decades. As many photographers as I have worked with I admit there are a few things I ask to be touched up in post, mostly blemishes, dark circles and smoothing here and there, but as I age I am fortunate to be able to embrace my curves and I encourage all women to. I feel the most beautiful when I’m able to show some skin, in costume or not. So my thighs jiggle, so what. I am healthy and happy. I am surprised to be in better shape than some of my smaller sized cosplay and modeling friends. Do I have marching band in high school or roller derby to thank for that? Maybe. Remember to take care of yourself, you cannot always fix the genetics behind your shape and size but as long as you are healthy and take care of yourself then you will be and feel happier.

I came across a site of which I will not name, that published a post displaying Cosplay girls before and after photo shopped images. This perturbs me as to why someone would take time out of their day to photo shop these cosplayers just dressing up and expressing themselves and having fun being who they are and other characters for a day. The comments below the post on this site were of some of the cosplayers asking for their images to be removed and of others complaining of the poor taste in photo shop. I agree.

Several sites I’ve contributed to have allowed women to let their nerd flags fly, to dress as their favorite video game, comic book and anime characters; and they are beautiful no matter what their size is. We are evolving and we are willing to bare it all for a good cause if any. Now I have been taking an extra look at my diet and my daily activities and I’m proud to say that I’ve become more active and conscientious of my food choices. Keep in mind I’m a healthy average 30 year old. I just know I can do better by walking, hiking and some weight training, by not over indulging in desserts, my kryptonite, and by bringing friends together with outdoor activities. As we get closer and closer to the big comic convention of the year, San Diego Comicon in July, I’ve recently been chatting it up with my cosplay colleagues on their diets just prior to the con, basically what they will do at all costs to get into that jump suit and cape! Check back next month for more on that subject as it may enlighten and educate you and even perhaps shock you.

Remember to models, actors and cosplayers everywhere: embrace who you are always, especially right now. I see you and you are beautiful.

Photo 2

photographer: Chrissy Edwards

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About Chrissy Lynn

Born and raised in Southern Ca, Chrissy Lynn had an eye for design and detail. As a cosplayer and designer she thrives on perfecting her craft and learning new techniques in hair styling, special FX makeup, prop and fabrication as well as costume and wardrobe. Her passion for the arts growing up has lead her to the Los Angeles area taking on positions in film/television, new media and marketing. In between working, Chrissy actively participates in non-profit charity work be it coordinating/planning, events/donation drives, cosplaying or digital marketing. She thrives on networking and making introductions. You can call her a matchmaker for collaborators as she firmly believes that artists should work with other artists and make s**t happen! She currently co-runs Nerdy-Girlz.com, a site dedicated to lady geeks in the community who regularly participate in cosplay photo shoots, charity events, comic conventions and more.