Tuesday, September 26, 2006

As the Head of Lettuce Crumples

Organizers of fashion week in Madrid have put the kibosh on skinny girls on the catwalk. And they face the wrath of some designers who feel their “artistic vision” is being tampered with. Incredible.

From "When Is Thin Too Thin?", New York Times
The producers of these fashion events have largely dismissed the concerns. On Saturday a British cabinet member, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, called for London designers to follow the example of Madrid by banning underweight models. But the British Fashion Council, led by Stuart Rose, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, said it would not interfere with the designers’ aesthetic. And some designers said it was misleading to equate thinness with being unhealthy and that the standard cited by the organizers in Madrid did not take into account age and puberty, which may cause a model who is unusually tall to appear frighteningly thin.
Um, I get that some girls are skinny, boney even. Perhaps even tall, too. I find it an amazing quirk that these same skinny, tall girls have the other “appropriate” criteria that allows entrance into the great houses of couture. Not a zit among them, which is equally astounding for young models are approaching puberty. So, what are these designers saying? That the girls in their frocks are ten to twelve years old?

From "Like It or Not, This Sells," Globe and Mail (requires login)
[Elmer] Olsen said, "because on a runway, like it or not, thin sells. The pictures turn out better."
Sells to whom? These shows are not marketed to the prĂȘt a porter crowd; indeed, many creators in the industry argue that haute couture is art, and that what they parade on the catwalks is not intended for everyday wear. And I totally buy this argument. There is room in the art world for textiles. Humans are used to exhibit art in most other disciplines (i.e., music, painting, performance). But these art forms see beauty in all types of humans, not merely those that resemble fully-starved gazelles.

British cabinet minister calls for ban on super-thin models,” Globe and Mail (requires login)

So can a government ban or legislate against this practice? Well, yes, technically it can. Certainly, the industry is not going to self-regulate. The issue of sickly stick figures wearing more weight down the aisle than they do naked on a scale is not new. And designers have not seen fit to dress healthy models. Will said ban or legislation have any effect? That remains to be seen. I highly doubt it.

Karen Von Hahn's column, “The Skinny on Self Esteem,” Globe and Mail (requires login)

Yes, girls often want to look like magazine covers and catwalk models. But body weirdness usually starts at about age twelve. Telling kids “it’s what’s inside that counts” works only up to the point when the insides start making appearances outside. Then the brain goes nuts, people that were icky aren’t icky anymore...and it doesn’t stop till menopause.

So, back to the stage. Can healthy be the new black, dahling? Perhaps for a season. It will last as long as faux fur and heroin chic.

PS: One model agent, Ben Barry, is actually making a dent. For more information, you can visit his website.

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