Sunday, March 14

On Body Image

Hola from Espana! Get ready for a rant.

So whilst abroad, many "pop culture" things have escaped my notice, but one of the Yahoo! articles from yesterday caught my eye. The title was, "Thin Is Not In at Paris Fashion Week." I thought to myself, what's this? The models on the runway at Paris fashion week might show different body types? They might not be emaciated? They might look like real people? I'll give you an excerpt.

"After many years of international criticism over the apparent unhealthiness of the skinny models chosen to walk the runways at the fashion world's most elite shows in New York, Milan, and Paris, designers seem to finally be coming around to the idea of diversity in who models their clothes. While the ethnic diversity barrier has been eroding for some time now, it seems a diversity of body types has had an even tougher time making it into the modeling world.

This week, several models known for their Victoria's Secret modeling -- most of whom have curvier figures than traditional catwalk models -- were welcome on the Paris Fashion Week runway for the first time."

Oh, Victoria's Secret models were allowed on the runway? This is the major change in the modeling world? These are the "fuller-figured" women we're reading about?


Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, the two VS models who were featured in the shows, are many things. They are lovely women, they are great models, and I'm sure they're very nice people. You know what they're not, though? They're not fucking CURVY. Let's do show and tell, shall we?

In the above pictures are the models in question. They look very pretty. They also look very thin. These women cannot be larger than, say, a size 2. I'm saying nothing negative about their personal eating habits or health; for all I know, this is all genetics. But I know curvy women - hell, I know normal-sized women - and these ladies do not fall into either of these categories. If I can see your well-defined abs, you're not curvy. Sorry. Yes, Adriana has bigger boobs than the average supermodel. She's still a tiny, tiny woman.

Maybe I'm complaining too much - maybe it should be enough for me that these slightly-less-emaciated women are allowed the right to be praised as goddesses of style and beauty along with the other bone-thin women - you know, as I write this, no. I'm not complaining too much. This is ridiculous. Fuck you, Paris fashion week ready-to-wear designers. Fuck you, industry that supports eating disorders over any sign of normal human proportions. And fuck you any man or woman who expects that normal women look like this, or else decides that they are "fat."

I've been having issues recently with the media decision - not that this was a recent decision, I've just been thinking about it lately - that any sort of body fat is 1. ugly and 2. undesirable, and that anyone who has any sort of body fat is 1. ugly and 2. undesirable. I see ads all the time telling me diet tricks, telling me how to get a beach body, telling me how to get rid of my belly. You know what? Maybe women (and I realize that men have issues with this too) wouldn't have so much of a problem with their bellies - maybe I wouldn't have obsessively counted calories in high school - if I wasn't being told from commercials, internet ads, magazines, films, basically all media, that it was something to be ashamed of. When did we decide that curvy women should try their hardest to lose their natural curves? Biologically, we need fat, we need hips, we need breasts, to be able to support the children we've been designed to carry, deliver, and feed. Why are we constantly encouraged to fight our body's natural design in exchange for a six-pack?

Examples of internet ads telling me to get rid of my fat:

Ok, and then as if that isn't bad enough, there's the other side of the coin - push up bras, breast augmentations as high school graduation presents, and now this commercial for a new ridiculous idea:

Great. So I'm allowed to have fat on my boobs and my ass, but not on my thighs, sides, stomach, or anywhere else. Good to know, I'll tell that to my metabolism. Oh, how I wish there were just a giant mold I could lie in that would shape my body to the exact specifications that were desirable by men and fashion alike.

Maybe I wouldn't have so much of a problem with this modeling article - which, granted, admits that Adriana and Alessandra aren't exactly heifers - if it had a different title. The title implies that they are not thin, and if we "unpack that" (shout-out to CK, TRL style) we're saying that women who look like Adriana and Alessandra are also not thin, and that women any bigger than that are basically obese. I'm very happy that these ladies are allowed to walk in fashion week, because (pitiful though it is) this is improvement. I'd be even happier if some ladies with fuller figures were allowed to do so, as well.

Let's face it, fashion and the media show us what's supposedly "normal." That's why we here at Dyxieland go nuts when a gay couple is featured in a commercial or on a game show - because the more you see something, the less it is "othered," and the easier it is for people to accept it. We're not seeing full-figured women in magazines anywhere (very few exceptions. Very few, and none come to mind.), and even less in high fashion. You know what? Looking this thin ISN'T normal for most people. That's why models get paid so much to keep their bodies so svelte - it's hard work. It's their job to look that good, and most people don't have the time or the energy to do that. It's the best that most people can do to stay healthy, and that doesn't always mean model-skinny (in fact I'd wager that to be really healthy, most models could stand to put on a little weight).

Oh, if only we could photograph healthiness, so that we could encourage that instead. Or joy. Or if only I could live in a rainbow, surrounded by puppies. Or if I could be a mermaid! Or if I could have wings that extended from my back when I wanted them! Or if Lady Gaga were president! Or if Fox News could be Fair and Balanced!

Impossible dreams...

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1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with what you said about commercials and such making women feel like they have to change. Growing up, my mom bought Star religiously. A quick flip through any of those magazines is enough to make anyone feel like they need to go on a diet. When I'm not at home I don't look at any magazines like those, and I have a surprisingly better body image. So basically what I'm saying is weight loss ads should be banned. And also photos of beautiful celebrities. But only women.

    Impossible dreams...