Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fashionably thin?

The news today that Allegra Versace has been suffering from anorexia is truly awful, yet is it so surprising that someone brought up in the world of haute couture fashion has succumbed to an obsession about body image?

I went to an all girls school were eating disorders were rife. I personally suffered from anorexia, but luckily managed to get over it. Mainly because I was too busy playing sport and being active to calorie count, and quite frankly, I got too hungry. But I suspect I was one of the lucky ones, and I don't think the desire to be thin ever really leaves. Why would it when we are bombarded with daily images of glamorous, thin people in perfect clothes and perfect make up who seem to have a perfect life?

However, I've never, ever, wanted to be a size zero. Why would I? I'm a woman: I'm not supposed to be a stick. When I look at these women on the catwalk I have absolutely no desire to look like them, because to me they look ill, and they certainly don't look attractive.

And for proof that they are ill, how about the sad story of Luisel Ramos who lived on diet coke and lettuce leaves for 3 months, before appearing in a show, stepping off the catwalk and dying from heart failure. Hardly glamorous, is it. She was told by her agent that if she lost more weight she could 'make it big'.

What makes it more odd for me to understand this desire to look like a bag of bones is that when you look at the 'lads mags' and their rather cute 'sexiest bosoms list' or similar, it's never the sticks who are voted No.1. This year, readers of FHM voted Scarlett Johansson as their favourite who, whilst she is not be a heffer, is a far cry from the sad person in the picture above.

A report in the Daily Mail over the decision by some countries to ban size 0 models from the catwalk tried to find out why fashion designers who were against these teeny weeny models still went with producing samples in such small sizes. One such person spoke to them anonymously:

I have to make my samples in a size eight," said one.

"If I make them any bigger so I can use models that are more shapely, no one will use the samples in the fashion magazine shoots afterwards because magazines nearly always use size eight-or-under models.

"I cannot afford to lose that potential.

"Sample sizes are an industry-wide standard that will evolve slowly as the look changes — which I hope it does.

"But for the time being we must conform to the stick-thin image.

But it's also widely accepted that the fashion world is dominated by gay men. Who like boys. Boys who, of course, don't have curves. So they make clothes for women who look like boys.

But why would any woman want to look like a boy?

I, personally, took the decision never to read or buy a magazine that had anything to do with dieting on the front cover. These magazines seem to push this view that a woman should never be happy with her life: you could have a job you enjoy, be happy in a relationship and have enough time and money to see your friends and do what you enjoy. But that's not enough for the likes of Cosmopolitan magazine. Oh no! Dump your 'fella' for a better version, go on another fucking diet and spend your free time looking for a new job or developing your skills so you can get another job.

As someone who believes in markets, I can't see this trend changing unless people reject these ridiculous notions. Why should the fashion industry change when people seem to be happy with it? Why should magazines stop running their tedious diet plans and continual slagging off of other women if people buy them?

I hope that a change does come about, and people do realise that looking like a skeleton is not healthy or attractive, but I am at a loss as to why it is taking so long.

It gives the phrase 'fashion victim' a whole new meaning.

1 comment:

timmyhawk said...

Your point about models looking like boys certainly rings true; I've been aying that for a while now. I hadn't considered the "gay angle" as you do. Either way, as you say, the whole nonsense about stick-insects remains because of market pressures I suppose women need to know and believe that we men actually prefer women with a shape. And speaking in a personal capacity, a little too much shape is better than to little. In other words: dig in and enjoy your chocolate icescream!