dress me: Strike a pose.

It feels as though there is always a fashion week going on, somewhere in the world. Of course, the only one that matters (really) is London fashion week, which started on Friday, and you can always guarantee the following things will happen:

  • – Mainstream media will let out a collective, overdramatic, gasp at the size zero models and pretend that they are deeply concerned about the health of all the teenagers that prance around modelling the latest designs.
  • – This will translate into mass hysteria about the influence such models have on the female population, and journalists will repeat the mantra: “Real Women Have Curves” over and over again until it starts to lose meaning.
  • – “Marilyn Monroe was a size 16 and she was the sexiest woman alive!!!!!”
  • – “Won’t somebody please think of the children!”
  • – Somewhere among all this, people will praise British fashion for being great, and everyone will masturbate over how amazing London is and how it is the CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE for everything fashion-related. And then a glossy magazine such as More, or Closer, will run a piece stating that actually all the fashion forward ladies are up North, and the girls in London just copy the catwalks, blindfolded. (That explains the harem pants, then).
    Just a thought: how come we never see any pieces about how well women in the Midlands dress? Eh?
  • – Towards the end of the week, Beth Ditto will sit in the front row of a Stella McCartney show, among celebrity waifs, looking out of place and slightly sweaty, and she will make everything ok again. This is because she is (whisper it) fat and as she is sitting in the FRONT ROW of a show, this means that we are (whisper it) accepting of larger women in the fashion world. Of course.
  • – Eventually it will pass by in a whirl of shoulder pads and sequins, and everyone will fuck off back to not caring a bit about models that are ill, coked-up and bullied into fitting into increasingly smaller sample sizes. (They won’t give a fuck until next year, that is. Or until another model faints on the catwalk and the whole circus starts up again.)

And so it begins… I happened to be watching Sky News last night, anchored by the lovely Steve Dixon (who I admit to having a bit of an obsession with), and joining him on his late night sofa (ooh) was Some Man Who Admitted To Feeling Like A Caveman Without Sky Plus. We’ll call him Some Man for short.
They were previewing the next morning’s newspapers, and they talked joyfully about Sky+ (“Whenever I go to a friend’s house and they don’t have Sky Plus I just feel lost, Steve, I feel LOST”) and other serious news issues. It was interesting when this story came up on the agenda, as both men looked at the photograph of the size 14 model and started salivating (almost). “She looks fine!” they said in unison, with Some Man continuing to stare, jaw slightly open, at the woman parading on the catwalk in a figure hugging ensemble.
They started to talk about why on earth people walked out of the show in disgust. (I can just imagine the conversation that preceded the abandoning of Mark Fast’s show: “Are those…breasts?! She doesn’t have breasts does she? She does?! THATS IT. I’M OUT”). They did it in a very sarcastic manner, pretending to be the stylist and casting director and joking that a ‘normal’ sized woman doesn’t have the right to be wearing such divine creations. They did this because it was so painfully obvious that the woman lookedfantastic that it bears thinking about why it was even a story that Mr.Fast dared to “break with convention” (as BBC News puts it) and put not one, not even two, but THREE size 12-14 models on his catwalk on Saturday. It was funny because it seemed so utterly stupid, but yet, here it was, a story that many a newspaper deemed newsworthy and debate-a-licious.

Then, of course, everything kicked off and Sky News even got Nikki The Annoying One Out Of Big Brother on to talk about pro-anorexia websites and how dangerous it was that people were making such a fuss that an average sized woman dared to step onto the catwalk. And that is exactly it. If you want models to be more realistically sized, if you want them to be accepted, the thing not to do is to create such a storm whenever someone over a size 0 steps out onto the catwalk. Because what is that saying? “Here is a woman that is, more than likely, smaller than you sitting there at home reading about this, and justlook at her! She is such an outcast in the world of fashion! She sticks out like a sore thumb! God, what an elephant she is!”. Whereas if they were just treated the same as the smaller girls, then…well, no one would make such a big deal about there actually being thighs that sometimes say hello to each other on the catwalk.
This is of course not only the media’s problem – if designers were only willing to provide bigger sample sizes, then casting directors might entertain the idea of putting bigger models out there. Models wouldn’t have to starve themselves quite so much to fit into the increasingly smaller sizes (Size 00, anyone?). Then perhaps the models that grace the catwalks at the various cattle markets fashion weeks wouldn’t look quite so vacant, and we’d all be happy.

The media knows the power that it holds, so why then, if they’re so passionate about larger women being accepted on the catwalk, (you know, for the good of women everywhere) do we still see issues of Heat where in one issue they berate a star for losing weight (“Ribs on show is so not a good look! Real women have curves!!!”), then in the next they whip out their Circle Of Shame magic marker and circle the same star’s so-called “flaws” while making jokes about eating pies and Weight Watchers (“Love handles on show is so not a good look! Real women have self control!!!”).
It is such a contradictory message and that, more than anything, is the biggest contribution to the “rising levels of anorexia” and the general unhappiness that women apparently feel when it comes to their bodies. They are told to be one thing, but when they are that one thing, they are made fun of and told that they must become something else in order to be beautiful. And no matter what else comes from London Fashion Week, it is obvious that a solution for this (which is far more important than whether Matthew Williamson decides to use stick thin models or not) is not going to be resolved any time soon. Everyone is too stubborn, despite claiming to have our best interests at heart.


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