Flicking through the coverage of a Paris fashion week gone by rekindled my wonderment at how designers had got their version of female beauty so wrong. The translucent, emaciated, homogenous, anti-femininity we are told subliminally and not so subliminally by magazines and the fashion industry we should all aspire to be are just not realistic. These images sprawled across the pages may indeed help to show off the clothes, possibly because what the reader is faced with is so harsh, surreal and ill looking one must avert ones eyes to what she is wearing.
Why so thin? It is not humanly possible to maintain a figure like that on a diet of solid food. Apparently the clothes ‘hang’ best on the skeletal frame of those that vaguely resemble women. I’d say they hang better on a coat hanger, although I’m guessing walking coat hanger is what they are going for?
Surely designers should want to appeal to the average woman? A natural healthy woman comes in all shapes and sizes. Wouldn’t models like these make garments more desirable through appearing more wearable thus being more attainable (disregarding price tag)?
For example, the classic 1950’s silhouette we see regurgitated year upon year is arguably more suited to a woman who eats, not Skeletor?! On the catwalk the desired effect has been achieved, the garment is hanging off her and by the looks of her face she wants to hang herself, perhaps due to the joyless existence that is a life without potatoes. Perhaps if she were to ingest some fries she would have the energy to stretch the corners of her mouth upwards into something resembling a smile.
When will this misrepresentation of women end? Just last year, in Israel a law was passed that prohibits models from working that have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5. This law also states that advertisements must clearly indicate when they use airbrushing or other computer alterations to a model. Amazingly, this is the first law of its kind in the world. A glimmer of hope for an industry that has far too much influence on the way women view themselves, although the industry clearly still has a long way to go.
Alexandra Shulman’s (editor of British Vogue magazine) angry letter to (various) designers in 2009 stating that they are sent ‘miniscule garments’ for their photo shoots forcing them to use models with ‘jutting bones and no breasts or hips’ seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Fast-forward to 2014 and we are still bombarded with images of a femininity that is unattainable for the average woman, who enjoys carbohydrates on a daily basis.