It seems that three months after Spain’s decision to ban runway models at Madrid’s Fashion Week who did not reach a “healthy” body fat percentage, the Council of Fashion Designers is addressing the health of models. That’s all well and good, anorexia is a serious problem and needs to be addressed, but nothing in the fashion industry will change. And it’s not entirely the “fault” of fashion designers; much of the blame resides with us, fashion consumers.
Although the average size of women in the US is a size 12, most clothing is still designed to be shown on a size 2 or even a size 0 model. Why? As a designer, on the runway, you want the clothes to be the focus of the show, not the model – and clothes on a straight, size 0 model look as if they’re basically hanging from a clotheshanger. There are no hips, butts, or breasts to get in the way of how the clothes drape on the body; the model is basically a walking dress form.
And we like it that way. Fashion for many women is fantasy – we love to envision ourselves in beautiful pieces we see on the runway, but most of all, we love to envision that we can look like the models in our clothes. Then we run out and buy a size 10 version of a runway piece and it looks horrible because designers don’t design for size 10’s – they design for size 2’s and then just add fabric/inches to the pattern to reach a size 10, which doesn’t translate well, but that is a rant for another day.
Back to the runway and anorexic models. Granted, there are some models who are actually suffering from anorexia, and they should receive help and the designers/agency’s who use them should be ashamed for promoting such behavior…because that is exactly what they’re doing. On the other hand, most models are naturally tall and skinny, and many of them are still pre-teens and thus naturally smaller.
But until we, as women, come to love our bodies, no matter the size or shape, designers and magazines will contiue to use women who do not look like the majority of women ON THE PLANET. Witness the failure and/or relative unpopularity of plus-sized women’s magazines compared to Vogue or Bazaar – we don’t want to see women who look like us in magazines. Why? becuase it FORCES us to see ourselves for how we really look, and sadly, dealing with that head-on is one of the most difficult things we as women will ever do. I know. I’ve done it.
So, the fashion industry will not change because it is by-and-large driven by the consumer habits of women around the world, and it’s a fact that most women (at least in the US) find it more desirable to be STUPID than to be even a little overweight – even though many of these very women ARE overweight (and arguably, stupid) according to size guidelines. How stupid is it that large retail chains engage in vanity sizing – where an actual size 12 pair of pants are labeled size 10, or even 8, so women feel better about themselves (they’re a smaller size). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the retail chains are stupid for engaging in that, I’m saying that women are stupid for falling for it! Why do you think retail chains started doing that? There was never an industry more consumed by focus groups…
I hate it. I hate that most women hate their bodies so much they refuse to get dressed and leave the house (I’ve been there). I hate that many women find fashion and style frivolous and don’t take the time to dress to flatter their bodies AS THEY ARE RIGHT NOW – and instead are always focused on losing weight and changing their bodies. It takes too much energy that could be devoted to other things – mostly just being happy.
But as with other industries in a capitalist society, the fashion industry is driven by demand, and will not change until we DEMAND it to change. As well it should be.