Natural beauty: What’s sexy in 2013

Lena Dunham once told Playboy that if she woke up with the body of a Victoria's Secret model, she wouldn't be happy. (PHOTO CREDIT: HBO)
Lena Dunham once told Playboy that if she woke up with the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, she wouldn’t be happy.
Credit: HBO

The biggest sex story of the past year didn’t happen between Christian and Anastasia, in some porn your mom read — it happened in Brooklyn when Adam banged Hannah, and probably gave her an STD. The HBO series “Girls,” with its frank depiction of bad dirty talk, venereal diseases, abortions, miscarriages and condom spill, is all about sex; but unlike “Sex and the City” before it, this show is a global hit partly because star/creator Lena Dunham is, well, average-looking. She’s a chubby, tattooed, thin-haired 26-year-old. She’s normal.

The hype comes at the perfect time for the “real beauty” movement — and for this Metro Sex Issue, themed “Feel Good Naked.” Within the past month, plus-size model Jennie Runk made headlines when H&M debuted her modeling swimwear (despite being a dress size 14-16, not 0). Dove soap, on the tails of an ad campaign featuring plus-size women, launched an “anti-Photoshop” app that restores images to their original form. And “amateur” porn is the most popular category on YouPorn, ranking higher than “blondes.” The house that Jenna Jameson built is crumbling. The question is, how quickly.

So yes, how quickly?

In one year, or in five? “I don’t think five years is enough,” says Gabi Gregg, 26, a plus-size blogger (gabifresh.com). Her work went viral last year after she posted photos of herself looking sensual in a “fatkini” and, this week, she launches her own line of swimwear. “But people like Lena Dunham and Louis C.K. are opening doors. Just the fact that her body makes people so angry — if you read the comments, people are telling her to put on clothes. She has said that only makes her want to do it more. It’s my favorite show.”

Arielle Loren doesn’t watch “Girls,” but also traffics in blunt depictions of sex. Her magazine Corset (corsetmagazine.com) features graphic nudity and first-person erotica, and resembles someone’s beautifully photographed diary. It became profitable after a year, and Loren sees it as part of a movement. “The way we learn about sex, the pornography industry drives a lot of that consciousness,” says Loren, a 27-year-old American. “It starts to inform the way we think about ‘sexy’ from an early age. But there are multifaceted aspects of sex and what it can really be, which we explore in the magazine. That goes from everything you can do in the bedroom — physically — but also how we understand our bodies.”

A recent Corset photoshoot, Breasts in Erotic Daylight, features a brown bosom with stretch marks. “We definitely don’t airbrush,” says Loren. “There’s something very sexy about that. Being able to see the hair follicles on a breast or the stretch marks on a woman’s stomach.” She now has subscribers here, in Canada, Peru, Brazil, Sweden and beyond.

And yet, post a photo of a plus size-model online and you’ll see that not everyone’s as accepting. Exhibit A: Jennie Runk.

Junk in Runk’s trunk

The excitement (and debate) over Runk’s H&M campaign made it all the way to Italy, where she was working in May. It led to at least one sleepless night. “I was thinking about all the media I’ve been getting and my mom reads a lot of the comments and she said, ‘I can’t believe somebody called you fat,’” remembers the 24-year-old. “And some people on the other side were like, ‘The curvier bodies are better!’ And it’s so ridiculous that people are having these arguments. What if some girl looks at these pictures and looks exactly like me: How is she going to feel?”

She turned to Facebook with a post. “I’ve noticed that people like to debate what kind of body is better than another,” she wrote. “This is all wrong! To me, true beauty is defined by a healthy lifestyle and a genuine personality. Bodies are just meaty things that carry our personhoods around for us.” A week later, Runk is still riled up. She notes that “bigger” models are getting more work, but “we should focus on embracing all sizes,” she says bluntly.

“This argument,” adds Runk, “is going to be a thing of the past when — honestly, I don’t know.” On Facebook, she was more hopeful, saying it’s “our differences that make us remarkable.” She laughs when she hears that again. “I’ve been told before I’m a little too naive.”

How to feel good naked: Tips from the editor of Corset

“Start by walking around your house naked. If you have a roommate, shut your door and walk around your room naked. The more you get comfortable with your naked self — not covering yourself up with a towel every time you take a shower, not taking the time to be in your body and open like that — your confidence will slowly and steadily increase.”


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