Fashion’s weighty problem

model photoFormer model Tenley Nordstrom discusses a constantly-debated argument from a different angle:

Just about every other week there seems to be controversy stirring up over too-thin models. The level of discussion ranges widely from, “She’s disgusting. Let her out of the camp,” to “Some people are just naturally thin!” Please allow me to shift the discussion and place the blame where the blame is due. Fashion designers. The designers, far and away, more than anybody else decide what size woman you are going to see in their clothes. They make the sample size that the model needs to wear and everyone else below them finds that girl. You know who is the last person that you should point your finger at? The model. The model is at the bottom wrung of power in the industry. Currently we watch as people in the fashion industry try to blame everyone else around them. It would be amusing if there weren’t such far reaching ramifications. Let’s take a look at this much talked about excerpt from former Australian Vogue editor Kirstie Clements’ new memoir, The Vogue Factor. Emphasis is mine.

The ‘fit’ model begins the fashion process: designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton. Few designers have a curvy or petite fit model. These collections are then sent to the runway, worn by tall, pin-thin models because that’s the way the designer wants to see the clothes fall. There will also be casting directors and stylists involved who have a vision of the type of woman they envisage wearing these clothes. […]

After the shows, the collection is made available for the press to use for their shoots. These are the samples we all work with and they are obviously the size of the model who wore them on the runway. Thus, a stylist must cast a model who will fit into these tiny sizes. And they have become smaller since the early 90s. We’ve had couture dresses arrive from Europe that are so minuscule they resemble christening robes. There are no bigger samples available, and the designer probably has no interest in seeing their clothes on larger women. Many high fashion labels are aghast at the idea of producing a [Australian] size 14 [US size 10], and they certainly wouldn’t want to see it displayed in the pages of the glossies.

Do you see how that works? Do you see how the designer is the one at the top making the decisions here? Everyone else is just trying to get their job done and/or they are vapid brainwashed individuals who would cast a piece of poop if Karl Lagerfeld told them it was the new hot look. If you want a change, you need to put pressure on the designers themselves. The companies who sell you the clothes. Starting with the poor girls at the bottom of the food chain does nothing to solve this problem. They are being told what parameters to meet in order to get hired for jobs. There are multiple reasons why I think models are being chosen younger and younger, but right now let’s stick to the fact that most women can not be a healthy weight and fit into these clothes. Most NEED to starve themselves in order to get rid of their ass and their breasts – to get rid of those pesky hips. A lot of these girls tell themselves that it is normal. It’s just part of the job. It’s like being an athlete! But you know who fits into that size? Children. Children who then become adults and start starving themselves in order to keep their jobs. Most likely they will be thrown away for the new hot 15-year-old.

Stop going after these young girls.The agents, the stylists, the fashion editors and ultimately the models are just feeding into the system. This does not mean that these people bare no responsibility, they do, but they are not the root of this much-discussed problem. Do start voicing your opinions to the people who make the clothes that you buy. If you can find a brand that doesn’t use starved models for their beauty ideal, buy from them. Clements says that she supports Vogue‘s commitment not to use models under the age of 16, or who have eating disorders. She then goes on to say, “The first part you can police. The second is disingenuous nonsense, because unless you are monitoring their diet 24/7, you just can’t be sure.” You know what is a bunch of disingenuous nonsense? These so called commitments made by designers and magazines aimed at models. They know they have the power. They know they pick the models. They know they are diverting the conversation. They want you to think that they care. They want you to think that they are taking action and doing their best, but these damned models just won’t eat!! Really they just want you to shut the hell up and stop telling them how to do their jobs.



Words and picture by Tenley Nordstrom