It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.

 

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Ultra-thin, young models used in fashion shows could become the “thinspiration” of young people suffering with eating disorders.

The fashion world says it takes the issue seriously and “wouldn’t want to use very skinny girls” – but it has come under fire for using very thin and young-looking models to showcase collections, with women’s groups and body-image charities calling for the influential fashion designers to use a more diverse range of body types in their shows.

I know that some young women suffering from eating disorders take these types of photos and put them inside their wardrobe doors, using them as a goal to work towards.

These type of images do not cause eating disorders but they escalate and exacerbate existing conditions. There is overwhelming evidence that points to these images having a very negative and damaging effect.

If the appearance is of an extreme body shape or extreme youth, it still sends out a message to young women that this is what you should look like. The fashion industry does not just sell clothes but a whole look and style – and people buy into that.

The models look uniformly painfully thin and the image that gives to young women in particular is quite damaging.

Society is understandably concerned about the issues surrounding body image and eating disorders, and the dangerous and unrealistic messages being sent to young women via fashion journals. When it comes to who should be blamed for the portrayal of overly thin models, magazine editors are in the direct line of fire, but it is more complex than that. Designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton. Few designers have a curvy or petite fit model. These collections are then sent to the runway, worn by tall, pin-thin models because that’s the way the designer wants to see the clothes fall. There will also be casting directors and stylists involved who have a vision of the type of woman they envisage wearing these clothes. For some bizarre reason, it seems they prefer her to be young, coltish, 6ft tall and built like a prepubescent boy.

It is too simplistic to blame misogynistic men, although in some cases I believe that criticism is deserved. There are a few male fashion designers I would like to personally strangle. But there are many female fashion editors who perpetuate the stereotype, women who often have a major eating disorder of their own. They get so caught up in the hype of how brilliant clothes look on a size 4, they cannot see the inherent danger in the message. It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.

Despite protestations by women who recognise the danger of portraying any one body type as “perfect”, the situation is not improving. If you look back at the heady days of the supermodels in the late 80s and early 90s, beauties such as Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigová and Claudia Schiffer look positively curvaceous compared to the sylphs of today. There was a period in the last three years when some of the girls on the runways were so young and thin, and the shoes they were modelling so high, it actually seemed barbaric. And personally, I’m not comfortable witnessing teen waifs almost on the point of collapse.

Health can come in all shapes and sizes. And I do want to see diverse bodies around me reflected positively in media, advertising and, yes, catwalks, including all kinds of sizes, shapes, ethnicities, abilities and more.

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Author: somegirlsareimmunetogoodadvice

If you can’t focus you’ll always fail. At 13 I understood reading is a wonderful way to educate your mind to create a powerful force of will. I think there is a lot to say for empowering everyone. Right now. List the things you know you should do for yourself and put actionable steps in place to ensure that you achieve them. Whether you aim to get a promotion at work or set up your very own business, these ideas will only remain dreams until you plan out how you are going to reach them by writing down realistic steps towards hitting your goals. If you can’t focus you’ll always fail.

1 thought on “It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame, but there is slim, and then there is scary skinny.”

  1. On the one hand, this may be something we’ve all said and talked over and so it’s old news, on the other hand if it were completely done and old news, why do we still think about it? One thing I feel about beauty is I wonder if it would matter as much if men did not exist? I feel women see beauty differently. I used to be a model and I was surrounded by beautiful women of that typical genre, I didn’t find them beautiful. Then later on I used to find women beautiful who others said were not. It got me thinking about the male/female gaze (of course there are exceptions, this is a generalized statement) how for men there are certain ‘definites’ for women it’s more about something intangible that is linked always to personality. For a man who is balanced I”m sure personality is a big plus, but I’d suggest most men (not all) would be very happy with an exquisite type of woman irrespective of much else. Perhaps it’s how they are wired. For women I think it’s far more about other things, skin deep, and so, what if straight women were not inculcated into believing their worth lay in the male gaze, what if Disney had never existed, what if the media hadn’t picked up on it and run with it, what if women and mother’s hadn’t echoed it? What then? Of course this is totally hypothetical but I would also venture gay-women are ‘freed’ from the constraint of beauty to the extent they judge/value beauty differently (again, massive generalization as I know MANY gay women who take their cue from the worst of men) if so, then this would cause women not to perceive another woman as a threat. I often want to say to my hetero friends, just be with a woman! You’d be so much less tortured! I think a man gets bored of the same piece, he looks elsewhere, it’s hard wired into him, whilst women can seriously be happy with the same person and not need to be with someone else (again, exceptions exist everywhere). I might be hugely wrong but that’s my take on the emotional lives of the genders. I have yet to meet a hetero man who doesn’t believe he would desire other women even if he were with the love of his life, I have met many, many women who never think like this. Not putting women above men, they are the worst perpetuators of the ‘beauty myth’ but even-so, it’s the sickness in the play of genders that seems to be the biggest issue. As for beauty in its purest form, I suppose we could say ‘this woman is beautiful nobody can say she isn’t’ but there is a huge variety of what cultures consider beautiful. I grew up being told I was too thin, too white-skinned, because my family are dark-skinned and my friends were bigger and taller than I was. Then I move to America and suddenly people say oh I love your skin I love how thin you are, go figure. It’s horses-for-courses. The most beautiful woman is a woman who has a beautiful mind and spirit, it infuses her literally. Some men see that, some women see that, others are blinded by these ideals that are not even our shared ideals but spoon fed ideals. There is nothing worse than a boring empty headed woman, and many models are (no offense on those who are not) plus true beauty can be plain and boring, whilst ‘character’ can never grow dull. Give me Helen Mirren over Cindy Crawford ANY day. I actually do not find many of the women who are ‘considered’ beautiful nearly as beautiful as others would say they are, and who is to say a size zero is any kind of measure? Only in America and only in this time period, in others, it would be considered hideous. As for being really tall well considering many men like short women I would say that’s just for the sake of hanging clothes better. Yes that doesn’t mean at the end of the day we aren’t blown away by whatever we consider beautiful – because we are, but beauty is rare, and few have it, and those who do not, it’s the richness of their lives that makes them who they are, and many times a beautiful person will be shunned – i’ve seen this happen a lot – we usually only want to be what we perceive ourselves not to be because someone has put us down made us feel unlovable. If we were treated better and made to feel beautiful whether we were or not, we would be above that and beyond that. It is hard when you are brought up criticized as I was, you nit-pick yourself to death, but we both know things would be very different if we were brought up with stable confidence and attention and love. Those who are, irrespective of whether they are beautiful or not, believe themselves to be worthy which is what this is really about for all of us. My GF is physically beautiful, but even if she were not, she would be, she always believed in herself because she was taught to believe in herself. I think if more women were given that first confidence they would not torture themselves (or others) nearly as often. Ultimately physical beauty fades even in the most glorious creatures, if you have nothing afterward you are truly empty. Just my ten cents 😉

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