The fashion industry is not a pretty business. Here, one of its own, the former editor of Australian Vogue Kirstie Clements describes a thin-obsessed culture in which starving models eat tissues and resort to surgery when dieting isn’t enough
Okay. So I do have a few problems with this article. This might be a little tu qouque and ad hominem, BUT it never ceases to astonish me that people will ride out their fifteen minutes of fame in this industry before bashing it. Once people are no longer relevant to the fashion industry is when they start to “rise above it”.
Much like former “Victoria Secret Model” Kylie who wrote a shitty book (I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model) that consisted of slut shaming and bashing an industry that didn’t want to further her contract anymore, former AustralianVogue editor Kirstie Clements states she is disgusted at the “conspiracy” perpetuated by the fashion industry to further eating disorders.
While I will not deny that anorexia is a major issue in young women today (especially in North America), the tone of Clements article suggests that the fashion industry is altogether unhealthy and is plotting the demise of a “natural” and full figured women.
Yes, the body type of women has changed since the 1980’s. Designers are looking for a more androgynous look instead of curvy. However, this isn’t a bad thing; it is just different. There is a danger of putting any body type on a pedestal because no one body type is representative of all women. It just can’t be. However, the purpose of the fashion industry isn’t to represent diversity on a runway. The purpose of fashion is to fashion. To quote Anna Wintour (editor in chief of Vogue) “Fashion is not beautiful, neither is it ugly. Why should it be either? Fashion is Fashion”. Original Valentino dresses are worth many of thousands of dollars, and need to be interchangeable fit almost any runway model. A dress will almost never be custom designed to fit one particular model, so yes models do need to have similar measurements in order for runway shows to be a success.
I happen to be naturally “twig thin” and just under six feet. If I was a model in the 1980’s I probably wouldn’t have booked many shows because it would be too drastic of a change to my body to get the right measurements. I’m not the most curvy girl, and I don’t have very big boobs. However, I am just fine with that. I don’t feel as if I need a traditional feminine figure or a “real woman’s” body to feel feminine. I am what is described as a “fit model” but I refuse to be categorized into Clements “live in-house skeletons”. I am naturally just under 6” with a thinner build. That’s just my natural body type. So no, I will not buy into the “conspiracy” that the fashion industry is creating an unhealthy ideal body type because there IS no one healthy ideal body type. There are plenty of problems with the fashion industry, but this “conspiracy” is not one of them.
I agree with *most* of what you are saying here, but there is also a significant online explicitly “pro-ana” community that encourages women and girls to be anorexic. Fashion does not exist in a vacuum from this culture which actively does perpetuate harmful body images. I don’t think that there is any grand conspiracy to encourage women/girls to be anorexic within the fashion industry, but I think that the fetishization of any one body type contributes to the harm and negative body images perpetuated within our culture. If human bodies are all different, then there is no particular reason why fashion should only represent one (impossible for most people) standard.
High fashion may not intentionally mean harm to the models or the women who strive to achieve unrealistic body type goals, but that does not change the end result. From Clairol to McQueen, the pictured ideal of fashionable (whether or not beautiful) is Caucasian, tall, size zero, and non-curvy. Furthermore, being fashionable is not a hobby or a choice for many women - women are more likely to achieve success in their careers if they are well-dressed and attractive.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating women’s bodies - I don’t think that fashion is inherently anti-woman or destructive to anybody’s self esteem - but I do think that choosing to laud a single body type while neglecting all others just adds to the body shaming culture already present in our society.