Tag Archives: plus size

The Skinny On Models

fashion, anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders, plus sizes, health

In the fashion industry, this is a normal size. Creative Commons: scrapetv.com

I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Back many years ago when I was in the throes of my eating disorder, classified as bulimia, I attended some group counseling sessions. Now my bulimia was not the normal one, where you gorge and vomit. I didn’t vomit. I starved myself, then gorged and then my bodily functions did a bit of a natural purge, but it was an uncontrolled desperate, self-hating way of eating and never on healthy foods. People with eating disorders never gorge on carrots or celery.

Now this counseling group was in the evenings at the psychiatrist’s home. I was the ugly duckling amongst the swans, but those swans were emaciated, walking sticks. Pretty much all of them were models dealing with anorexia. I remember the doctor asking once, “How many people have known someone who died from an eating disorder?” I didn’t but probably 80% of those models had known someone who starved themselves to death. The video below shows Isabelle Caro who died a few years after this was made at the age of 28. She looks 60.

And yet, twenty years later, we still see that the modeling, acting, dancing  and gymnastic sports industries have a prevalence toward the ultra thin person. Ultra thin to the point of sickeningly unhealthy. When I hear that models are considered plus size from size 8 and up I get angry. What does plus mean with sizing? Well, it means more than normal or average. Plus sizing when I was a kid was for truly large ladies, like sizes 18 and up.

anorexia, eating disorders, models, fashion industry, plus sizes, modeling, fashion, health, starvation

What astounds me is that this woman, by her dress, feels she's still beautiful. Creative Commons: evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com

Being classified as a plus size 8 means that you’re going to think you’re bigger than average, that there’s something wrong and abnormal about you. The fashion industry is probably the worst, with the movie industry coming in second. Seriously, these people should be smacked severely for causing needless deaths and psychoses. When children of six are worrying about their weight or being too fat, there is a lot wrong with the world. Albeit, as a pudgy child I didn’t have it easy and children are notoriously cruel, but our culture shapes what they consider aberrant.

I have Amazonian friends. They’re nearly six feet tall. Some are slimmer than others, because nature makes us differently, but none are fat. You can bet that by height alone they’re all going to be over 150 pounds and they’re going to be considered plus size. For that matter, maybe all of my friends (except one who is tiny and has size 5 feet but still has a bit of a tummy) would be plus size by modeling standards.

Hanging clothes on living skeletons who are lit and pomaded to look partially healthy gives no one the hope of looking the same in such an outfit. The pictures here are the extremes but models are often far underweight and on their way to an early death. Actors are told they’ll be fired from their roles if they put on so much as 10 lbs. Unless you’re a comedian; they’re allowed to be fat because fat is funny. And these supposedly normal size models…they stand a high chance of suffering throughout their lives, should they live that long. They’re not just missing fat, they’re missing muscle mass, not to mention nutrition to run a healthy body. Telling someone they’re fat doesn’t make them healthier if they starve themselves into nonexistence.

fashion, plus models, starvation, anorexia, eating disorders, modeling,

From Plus Model Magazine: Katya Zharkova next to the fashion industry's ideal.

There is  the beginning of a backlash in the fashion industry but obviously it’s slow when Twiggy (who was 110 lbs) would now be considered plus size. The clothing store Le Chateau perpetuates the skinny myth, where you’ll be hard pressed to find L, but you’ll find S, XS, XXS and XXXS. Shame on you, Le Chateau.  Plus Model Magazine embraces lush, curvy models, and the magazine looks a lot at unhealthy body image. This last image indicates the difference between the skeletal model preferred by the fashion industry and the body ideal that is more common for all women. There are very few women, a small percentage, who could be healthy and skinny enough to be a model without starving themselves.

So, don’t believe what you see in fashion and in the movies. Those aren’t real people sizes. If you’re wearing a size 12, that’s not a plus size. That’s average. And, mothers, don’t let your daughters grow up to be models.

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Filed under Culture, fashion, health

The Fashion Industry: A New Type of Monster

fashion, plus size models, anorexia, Mark Fast

Mark Fast's fashion design modeled on normal sized women. sustainable-fashion.com

About a week ago, Canadian fashion designer Mark Fast supposedly set the fashion world all atwitter by using “plus size” models in his show of knitwear dresses. The clothing is lovely, weaves and provocative openings and fringes that gives a sinuous sway to the skirts.

But the fashion industry is awash with human sticks, and there is not much shape to a knit dress on a 0 size, anorexic model. Mark Fast chose to show that normal women with curves could wear his dresses and though he was very diplomatic and did not say he was against the human hangers that the fashion industry normally hangs its clothing on (for runways designs anyways…you’ll find normal sizes in a clothing catalogue). He just said he wanted to show that women with more curves could wear his outfits too.

Also known as heroin chic, the skinny models of these days look emaciated because they are. A short google search will show stories of women surviving on lettuce, removing walnuts from their salads as being too high-calorie, and stories of size 8 women not being accepted by agencies because they’re too fat. When I had my eating disorder and attended meetings, it was about 90% scrawny models and almost all of them had known of a model who died from starving themselves. That does not speak of a good precedent. Today, Marilyn Monroe would be considered a fatty.

It’s astounding too that the press reported on this extravagant disregard for the traditions of skeletal models by calling the other models “plus size.” Size 12 and 14 (and these models may not even be of that size) are not plus sizes. They are normal for women who are tall and if you look at the pictures of these models, they don’t look fat; they look fit. Plus size really begins past size 14 when a person is carry more than an average body weight according to health guides not the fashion industry’s idea of thin. These bigger than zero size models in Fast’s runway show have a curve to their calves, and sinuous lines that indicate they are healthy women. Not one of them is fat or overweight.

The ribcage-evident, knobby knee models who have to have breast implants because there isn’t

Marilyn Monroe, fashion, normal size, plus size, anorexia

Still considered sexy by today's standards, Marilyn would have been a plus size. Photo: Claudio Andres

enough fat to support a breast anymore are the norm with the fashionista agencies telling them that they need to lose more weight if they’re a size 5 or 7. I am not blaming models but the industry itself and the media for perpetuating the image that a woman who is size 10 is fat. (We can throw the TV/movie industry into this mix of perpetuating anorexia as well.)

Supposedly attitudes in the fashion industry are changing and moving back to a more realistic norm, but if this is the case, then there wouldn’t be such  titter about two models with meat on their bones. It’s a sad statement when we ostracize hungry people and say that Auschwitz health is the norm. So, good for Mark Fast using normal models alongside the twigs. May the industry be forever set on its rear end and realize that health should matter more than clothes and that not all of us fit one size.

As for the aspect of runway modelling and that it is in fact more an art style than functional clothing, I’d say people who slavishly stick to the medium of the anorexic model are not really being true artists and are limiting themselves to the accepted attitudes. That’s not what art is about. Art is about pushing the envelope, exploring the unknown and taking chances. Congratulations to Mark Fast for taking his medium farther.

Plus-size or normal models

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