Sunday, 15 October 2006

Who is really responsible for stick thin models?

In today's Ottawa Citizen, journalist Shelley Page tells the story (subscription required) of the modelling career that put her through journalism school and ruined her eating habits for years. She was pressured to take her healthy, athletic frame and reduce it to a size 6. It wasn't easy. Now, 20 years later, size 0 is the norm, and some models have literally died trying to attain and maintain it. Shelley is not buying the fashion industry's excuses.
In the two decades since I modelled, the young women have been forced from the sought-after size 6 to achieve nothingness. The size 0 standard almost negates their very existence.

Who are these women-hating designers who create clothes that only look good on women who are half-dead? Who are the idiots who sit stupidly in the audience during Fashion Week and applaud the ridiculous fashions draped over these dead-eyed girls? And who are these young women who are turning into zeroes?
And who are the every-day women who are complicit?

Let's face it, the fashion industry would not survive for two weeks if women didn't support it. Not just the "high" society sitting in the front rows around the catwalks, but the thousands upon thousands of women who buy fashion magazines and the celebrity tabloids with their breathless descriptions of the gowns at the Oscars. It is women themselves who are financing some of the most malicious exploitation of women that occurs in the Western world.

So what are you going to do about it?

Update: I've blogged about a powerful photographic exhibit dealing with eating disorders here.

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SUZANNE said...

I've stopped looking at fashion magazines and fashion shows. Not only are the models ridiculously thin, the clothes themselves are ridiculous. They have nothing to do with my world.

Good post.

Fern R said...

What can those of us who don't buy fashion magazines or designer clothing do? I just don't understand why anyone thinks that being that skinny looks good. I don't think very many men find it attractive, and most women abhor what it takes to be that skinny. So who thinks it looks good? And why? What is wrong with using models in the 6-10 range. Women can be healthy and slim while still being a 6, 8 or 10.

Janet said...

Honestly Fern, I don't know. Other than speaking up and trying to influence others, I don't see that there's much we can do. Perhaps propose to our lawmakers that they consider following Spain's lead, and ban models with a BMI under 30.

And keep our daughters as far away from that world as possible. Whatever else can be said about Walmart, I've always liked their practice of using amateur models drawn from their employees and their families. Letting advertisers know when we approve and disapprove might be a small way of contributing.

Anybody have any brilliant ideas?

waterroots said...

It’s funny. My 14-year-old daughter was just working on a report for school last night about “The influences of Media”. She had pages filled with photos of female models – all air-brushed to have that perfect complexion I haven’t been able to achieve my whole life (at 41, I still get acne!); all so skinny they look sickly; all with perfect features (eyes, mouth, nose, etc). I was so happy to see that her school is discussing this topic with young teenagers – girls especially – to help them shed that myth that women have to look like magazine models to be appreciated. My daughter knew about the Spain ban even before I did!

And although even the school is trying to break that myth, my husband and I find ourselves having multiple discussions about this issue with my teenage daughter. She still has moments when she thinks she’s ‘too big’, ‘too ugly’, ‘too imperfect’ for this world. She’s even stated that some of her friends (the girls) at school starve themselves all day to stay ‘skinny’. It’s truly shocking to hear things like that from your daughter and have to work against the ‘leviathan’ media to keep her from developing feelings of insecurity trying to meet the requirements of what an ‘ideal woman’ is according to the media’s definition.

Janet said...

Fortunately my daughter is a health food fanatic and is determined to be healthy before being thin, although she'd happily settle for both. But good eating comes first... That's what comes of working in a health food store.


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