“Comedy queen Amy Schumer makes a splash,” proclaimed InStyle magazine as it posted an image of its current cover girl to Instagram on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old comedian, who has gone public to say she’s not plus-size and wears “between a size 6 and an 8,” was photographed in water for the magazine’s beauty issue wearing a white one-piece swimsuit with a plunging neckline.
Moments later, the Instagram account for South Shore Swimwear, a luxury swimwear line, left a boldly critical comment. “Come on now! You could not find anyone better for this cover? Not everyone should be in a swimsuit,” the comment read; it included the vomit emoji at the end. Fans were quick to clap back in defense of Schumer. One wrote, “@southshoreswimwear not everyone should be in a swimsuit?! Swimwear is not just for women who are a size 2! She is a real woman with a real body. Bravo to @instylemagazine for showcasing her. She looks beautiful.” Another replied, “@southshoreswimwear rude. You’re the problem.”
The replies ignited an argument, in which Dana Duggan, the owner of South Shore Swimwear and author of the comment, retorted, “@rachelpasternak I can have my opinion and you can have yours. It’s called Freedom of Speech.” One commenter wrote, “@southshoreswimwear not everyone should be in a swimsuit?! Explain this for me please. As a swimwear retailer do you turn away customers because they don’t belong in swimsuits?,” to which Duggan replied, “@fafazone I don’t sell Plus Size Swimsuits.”
For all intents and purposes, Duggan appeared to be body-shaming Schumer — and passionately so. Yahoo Style reached out to Duggan, whose business is based in Cohasset, Mass., to find out what inspired her to be so vocal about her disdain for the Schumer as an InStyle cover star. “I’m not fat-shaming anyone,” Duggan told us. “I’m not anti-inclusivity or anti-plus size. All I said was not everyone should be in a swimsuit on the cover of a magazine. I don’t think it was an attractive photo.”
In one of her Instagram comments, Duggan wrote, “[Schumer] is a self-proclaimed Cabbage Patch Kid. She fat-shames herself in her comedy routine.” She reiterated that point to Yahoo Style, adding that the comedian is “overweight; she says it herself.” Duggan admits that she herself is a size 14, “and I’m not on the cover of a beauty magazine.” The swimwear manufacturer exclusively uses svelte models on her brand’s official website and Facebook page (South Shore Swimwear’s Instagram and Twitter accounts are private), and tells Yahoo Style that she feels modeling used to be “something you aspired to and didn’t see on the street.” Referencing media’s move toward body positivity and inclusivity, she added, “Now everyone wants their kid to be a model.” (For the record, Schumer isn’t and has never claimed to be a model.)
When asked whether she believes plus-size women should banish bathing suits from their wardrobes altogether or simply stay off the covers of fashion magazines, Duggan said, “I’m not saying plus-size women shouldn’t wear bathing suits,” but suggested larger women consider wearing rash guards to the beach and pool.
Mainly, she takes aim at the decision to include bodies of all shapes and size in “high-fashion magazines.” Duggan feels that “PC culture has run amok” and is destroying the mystique of the modeling industry. “At some point all the beauty and the fantasy seemed to go away, and the aesthetic” when publications started featuring more relatable physiques, she said. While she feels her comments have been misconstrued, she refuses to back down from her controversial opinion about inclusivity in the media.
She has her detractors, of course. One commenter wrote, in response to Duggan’s claim that South Shore Swimsuits doesn’t cater to plus-size customers, “@southshoreswimwear that’s your business decision and I’m sure it’s working out for you. But does with your previous comments and the use of the [vomit] emoji, are you saying that overweight people shouldn’t swim? It sends a bad message.”
Some commenters agreed with Duggan, though. One wrote, “How did SHE make it on the cover of The Beauty Issue?!!,” while another commented, “Seriously???”. Others chose to stay out of the argument and simply leave positive messages in support of Schumer. “Amy is a modern, amazingly funny and smart woman, a beautiful role model,” one wrote. “She looks amazing, as usual, refreshing seeing diversity on the cover girls. We love all sizes because we are all sizes!,” another commented.
InStyle seems to have responded indirectly to the debate in a followup post, in which a photo of Schumer swimming in her white one-piece is accompanied by this quote from her interview with the magazine: “What’s good about not being a model is that it’s not the thing I trade on. Once I start looking older, that won’t affect me. I have never gotten anything done because I’m, like, so gorgeous. I’m good-looking enough that I can work in the business. I get enough attention from men that I feel good. I see pictures of myself now, and I look younger than I think of myself. It hasn’t scared me yet.”
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