Sunday, October 01, 2006

Skinny models ban

This week's issue of Closer magazine had an article entitled 'Stop making models starve!' and included the fact that whereas Madrid has banned too skinny models from it's catwalks, and Milan is considering following suit, London Fashion week organisers have refused.

One the one hand, there's a big brouhaha about whether or not it's fair to naturally really thin models, and designers who feel they should be free to choose who shows their clothes. And on the other, people have praised the decision saying it's about time we stopped making the emaciated look glamorous and aspirational to younger women. One doctor claims he is treating girls as young as seven for eating disorders.

My father was a thin guy. If he was busy on a project and forgot to eat, he'd drop a kilo in a day. No kidding. Although he was by no means emaciated or even 'skinny' he was naturally thin. Therefore I know that despite snide remarks people make (jealousy knows no bounds), some people are not starving themselves, or (god forbid) trying to look like Victoria Beckham, they're just thin. They have no choice in the matter.

I've never been skinny. I wasn't an overweight kid either - I guess I was just kind of average, and I certainly didn't diet or even think about my weight until I hit puberty and then, for the first time in my life I became aware of the relationship between what I put in my body and the size of my backside. Like a lot of teenagers, this developed into negative body image issues resulting in a cycle of over-eating, followed by guilt and self-loathing, and then overeating again, which I wouldn't wish on my own children, or anyone else for that matter.

So I think the new stuff Dove is putting out is really good. They've shot some lovely print work and the women are all 'real' - complete with curves, and they are sexy and desirable. This is getting people used to seeing bigger (or rather realistically sized) woman in the media, which over time will hopefully form a sort of psychological familiarity with what is 'normal.' They still sneak in the odd ad with the big pants and the kinds of bras my grandmother favours, which I find unfortunate. Being a curvy woman myself, I'm all for portraying curvy women as sexy and or attractive and aspirational, but execution is everything.

However, what about all those people, like my Dad, who are naturally thin? Let's not become reverse fattist and prejudiced against them. Whether extremely thin women should be on the catwalks, especially in the skinny obsessed climate we are in now, I'd say not. We've clearly got a problem with the message it's sending. I'd also like to advocate shorter women on the catwalks. How about shorter women, who are also curvy, from South Africa but living in London, and design websites? And they should pay these women really really well too.

Photo: Model at 2005 Madrid Fashion week c/o yahoo news

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