What does "Normal" look like?

I have been reading the comments on the article in the January issue of Plus Size Magazine featuring Katya Zharkova on Facebook.  I could hardly avoid it, since the link is plastered on the walls of many of my friends.  The fact that on every wall, there are comments on this article saying that the modeling industry shouldn't promote obesity either.  The implication being, I assume, that Katya Zharkova is supposed to be obese.

Funny, I look at her and I don't see obese. In those pictures, she looks either normal or slightly overweight.  She could probably stand to lose some weight, but not that much.  I did some research and she's about 5'10" and wears a size 12.  That would seem pretty normal to me, not obese.  But to those women, she looks obese.

So what does normal look like?  I am using the medical definition of normal here - a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9.  I can find that definition of normal pretty easily and it's what most doctors use to assess weight-related health risks.  What I care about most is being healthy, so that seems to be as good a measure as any.  Oddly enough, what I can't find is what normal looks like.  Nowhere on the web can I find a clear example that states this is what a BMI of 18.5 - 24.9 looks like on a woman of any height. 

You can't find normal in the fashion magazines or pictures online of models or stars either.  First of all, they are all photoshop'ed (I'm not sure that's a word, but let's go with it).  And more importantly, the average BMI of most top models is 16.3 (From the National Eating Disorders Association Website).  That is, by definition, not normal.  It is underweight. Severly Underweight.  So severely underweight in fact that Spain passed a law in 2006 requiring models to have a BMI of at least 18 after 2 models died.

Most plus-size models, oddly enough, often aren't.  Plus-sized, that is.  Most are a minimum of 5'9" and range from a size 6 - 16 (ish).  I got this from several sources, including the original Plus Size Magazine article.  The entry on Wikipedia was much more vague.  The plus-sized models are certainly closer to the average American woman.  The average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140 pounds and has a BMI of 24.  That is normal.

Mind you, it's a little hard to picture "normal"  when you're constantly being bombarded by messages that you're fat.

We'd have to go back to Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe to get some idea of what normal might look like.

Or even, better, start looking in the mirror.