I bought January's copy of Cosmopolitan for some lazy Christmas reading, and found myself delving into a story about Ashley Graham. She's an American model, seemingly taking the fashion world by storm. She's a size 18-20 who is pushing the boundaries of the industry in terms of representation and diversity.
And while all of that is well and good, my blog isn't really about Ashley at all. It's about the small gains that are celebrated, while often overshadowing the gulf they are trying to cross.
The cover of the magazine, along with all of the inside images of Ashely, show her in underwear. They're seemingly trumpeting the acceptance of plus size imagery in mainstream magazines. "Look how diverse we are now".
Yet, they highlight the never ending taboo for all sized women - the only bellies we can see without clothing are flat. Even Ashley, posing in her underwear for all to see, is acceptable for a magazine if she's in belly-hiding (and body slimming underwear).
Women can be any size they like, if they hide their bellies away. We are shielded from what tummies look like, unless they're flat.