Lizzi Miller: The Beautiful, REAL Woman on p.194


I am large in my skin
I make no apology
This belly grew three babies
Why should it be flat?
It curves with the memory of the womb.
These breasts fed three babies
Why should they be pert?
They swell with the memory of milk.
These hips carried three children
Why should they be slim?
They are full with the memory of life.
My bones are secret under flesh
My skin plump and white and fine
Mine is the face of Botticelli
Mine is the water of the Nile
Mine is the shape of things forbidden
Daughter of Gaia, grown beautiful and wild.

~Lorri Barrier

I am sometimes amazed at the numbers of new mothers around me who jump into a restrictive diet and post-pregnancy boot camp immediately after giving birth. Rather than soaking up their new beautiful bundle, and eating enough to feed that healthy growing baby (it takes 60% more calories to breastfeed a baby and keep your milk supply high ~ even more than growing a baby during pregnancy!) too many women are instead solely focused on trying to get back that pre-pregnancy body (a feat which, more often than not, is a thing of fairy-tales).

We are ubiquitously lied to as women in this culture. This deceit manifests itself in many ways ~ photos being one of them. How often do we see real women adorning the covers and pages of magazines on newsstands? How often do we see real breasts of women who have fed and sustained new human life for years on end? How often do we see real bellies of women ~ especially beautiful bellies that have powerfully and majestically grown and raised and birthed
and nourished a baby? Or two? Or three...

It is no wonder that there was already an outpouring of praise and support for the "woman on page 194" of this month's Glamour magazine (Sept 2009). Everyone needs to feel like they are not alone. And while 20-year-old Lizzi is not a new mom herself, her confidence in her own natural skin ~ belly and all ~ encourages mothers everywhere to love the fabulous, real, hard working body you're in!

The following from Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour:
It's a photo that measures all of three by three inches in our September issue, but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands. (As editor-in-chief, I pay attention to this stuff!) "I am gasping with delight...I love the woman on p 194!" said one...then another, and another, andanotherandanotherandanother. So...who is she? And what on earth is so special about her?
Here's the deal: The picture wasn't of a celebrity. It wasn't of a supermodel. It was of a woman sitting in her underwear with a smile on her face and a belly that looks...wait for it...normal.

I'd loved this photo at first sight myself--we'd commissioned it for a story on feeling comfortable in your skin, and wanted a model who looked like she was. But even so, the letters blew me away: "the most amazing photograph I've ever seen in any women's magazine," wrote one reader in Pavo, Georgia. From another in Somerset, Massachusetts: "This beautiful woman has a real stomach and did I even see a few stretch marks? This is how my belly looks after giving birth to my two amazing kids! This photo made me want to shout from the rooftops."

The emails were filled with such joy--joy at seeing a woman's body with all the curves and quirks and rolls found in nature. (Raising a question: With all the six-packs out there, do you even know what a normal belly looks like anymore--other than the one you see in the mirror?)

So what's the story behind the photo? "The woman on p. 194" is actually 20-year-old model Lizzi Miller, and this is her second appearance in Glamour, shot by fashion photographer Walter Chin. A size 12-14 and avid softball player/belly dancer ("I like exercising when it's fun"), Lizzi moved to New York City from San Jose three years ago to become a model (a "plus-size" one by modeling industry standards, though hello, at size 12 she's actually "normal size"...but I digress).

"When I was young I really struggled with my body and how it looked because I didn't understand why my friends were so effortlessly skinny," Lizzi told me. "As I got older I realized that everyone's body is different and not everyone is skinny naturally--me included! I learned to love my body for how it is, every curve of it. I used to be so self-conscious in a bikini because my stomach wasn't perfectly defined. But everyone has different body shapes! And it's not all about the physical! If you walk on the beach in your bikini with confidence and you feel sexy, people will see you that way too."

As for the letters, Lizzi's loving them. "When I read them I got teary-eyed!" she says. "I've been that girl, flipping through magazines trying to find just one person who looked a little bit like me. And when I didn't find it I would start to think there's something wrong with the way that I looked. When J. Lo and Beyoncé came out and were making curves sexy, I started to accept myself more. It's funny, but just seeing them look and feel sexy enabled me to do the same." Lizzi, now you're doing the same for all of us--massive congrats on that.

We had some rollicking debates in this blog last week about "fattism" and the TV shows for plus-size women. So let's start off this week with something we can all get behind: a toast to the woman on p. 194, and to the spectacular sexiness of owning who you are. Trust me, Glamour's listening, and this only strengthens our commitment to celebrating all kinds of beauty.

Now tell me...what do you think of the picture? Can a photo make you feel better or worse about your own looks? And what kinds of images would you like to see of women?

The original Glamour article in which this photo appeared: What Everyone But You Sees about Your Body


  1. Thank you for posting this! I wouldn't normally see it (I don't pick up fashion mags... though I might if there were more models like this woman featured), thank you so much, it's beautiful!

  2. I love this picture! And I love that it was in a mainstream magazine.

    I'm lucky, naturally pretty skinny, but I still have that baby belly that comes with birthing and loving two (soon to be three) children. Nice to see another beautiful woman sporting and being happy with a baby belly.

    Great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Validating. Inspiring. Incredibly beautiful. Thank you for the post. :-)

  4. I loved the photo! I had my baby girl 9 months ago and thought I would hit the gym right after - no way! I didn't care one bit about losing the weight, I just wanted to be with my daughter and care for and nourish her. After six months I did get back to the gym, but now it is more about rejuvenation than looking good!

  5. Hey my tummy looks just like that! :)

    Well right after pregnancy I was a little worried b/c the stretch marks looked downright scary. I didn't know they would shrink and fade.

    But other than that, I'm happy. :) DH makes me feel like a sexy woman mama goddess.

    Sometimes I trace my stretch marks and smile b/c I think back to being pregnant.

    Only because we are women and we are amazing do we get shamed. Think if military professionals were told to hide their bars. Think if doctors were pressured not to have M.D. after their name. Or weight lifters teased for having muscles.

    What a joke. Women accomplish something amazing and they are made to feel bad about it. :/ Same old same old.


  6. Until recently, I let my own size, and fear of being judged, hold me back from owning my power as a teacher and authority on the subjects of health and well-being. No more! It's really encouraging to see people loving themselves, exactly as they are, belly and all. Thanks for this awesome article!

  7. It isn't so much just an inspiration to see a normal body in a magazine, but I think the marketing department ought to let designers know and advertisers know that women would buy WAY more of their products if they depicted REAL women (Let's just stop calling them plus sized models already) wearing actual clothing, makeup etc.

  8. A friend sent me this link via email... I couldn't stop looking at the picture because I was shocked to see a picture of a NORMAL woman in the media.. Most the time normal bodied women are still touched up to look like they don't have any imperfections. I have had four children, have breast feed three of them and am currently homeschooling them. I usually get upset at the size of my body 70 lbs heavier than when I had my first child 11 years ago. This article made me think! I should love my body because of what it has done NOT what it looks like!!! I hold on to the dream to have my High school body back which is not REALISTIC!!!! Thank YOU for posting this!!!

  9. This picture is beautiful. I know I'm a year late, but I love seeing "real" models! My belly looks the same, but with deep red marks. I love them! They're my "trophy" marks.

  10. what a BABE! Good on ya, WOMAN!

  11. I'd love to see more models smiling in fashion magazines and advertising... and more short women :)

  12. I came across this photo and entry via Facebook. Thanks! At 65 I still have the belly, just like in the photo and a bit bigger. I remember as a teen being very thin but there was always a slight belly and I felt fat. Realized many years later, it was just my body type. Mine! And now I love it!

  13. this is great! So many times you see women in print that are scary skinny, and then usually the reaction to it is celebrating women that are overly obese. so refreshing to see a real woman that obviously takes care of herself and is not ashamed of what a woman's body looks like after giving birth.

  14. I must say, when I came to this site, I had no idea what it was but I scrolled down to see how long the article was. I saw the picture and I was like WHOA! What am I looking at? Then I was like wow, props to her! Her stomach looks exactly like mine! (Except I have many more stretch marks from my pregnancy!) I read the article and I was very encouraged. What a courageous and beautiful woman :) Very awesome!

  15. Thanks so much for posting this! Its refreshing to see women who are women. I myself have struggled for years with my weight and found myself rejecting the television and magazines because they made me feel so terrible. I would love to see more women ( not plastic girls) in the media. Thanks again. You're doing the world a service of showing women, especially teens, that its ok to be who they are.

  16. Seeing her belly makes me feel normal!

  17. This picture is wonderful. Up until now I had a very, VERY unrealistic expectation of what my body should look like post-child birth.

    Very refreshing. I actually cannot stop smiling :)

  18. It is lovely seeing a woman who looks natural and womanly. She looks healthy and normal, not overweight or super-skinny. The media rarely gives any attention to healthy women with natural curves. It's sad that curvy and voluptuous and full figured get lumped in with obese and overweight these days. There's a difference and a healthy looking normal woman's figure is a lovely thing to see.

  19. Thomas says: She is a beautiful woman...One of many Gods special angels...I love to watch belly dancers and have been to a few venues...Her belly is perfect for this...God and I love her for bringin the special souls to earth...May the Angel's and God proetct you on your journey My Lady!!! ps.Thank you for the beautiful!!

  20. I think this photo is great. I grew up always thinking that the photos in magazines were "real" and thus I was flawed, and imperfect. Looking back now at photos of myself I was thin and lovely, after having babies I can see just how horribly the images in TEEN magazines affected my feelings day after day. It has to STOP! I am sick of fake images making girls everyone feel bad about their bodies, we are more than a body! We are a soul and what happens to our flesh happens to everyone. I sure hope someday the world will stop putting so much value in "perfection" when it comes to looks because it simply isn't reality. Needless to say my children will not be reading magazines. ;)

  21. Gorgeous! I really wish that there were more women like her in fashion magazines. If that were the case, I would probably read them!



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