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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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It makes zero sense to me

It was good to hear from students at Ullswater Community College the other day. But they sure set me a tough test.

“For our coursework in citizenship we have chosen the topic ‘Models and being size zero’ for our controlled assessment,” they said.

“We would be very grateful if you could give us your views on size zero and models in the media today.

“We strongly believe that size zero models should not be used in magazines, the newspaper and on the internet as it creates a negative image not only in adults and young people, but it is also becoming rather common for children as young as 10 to be affected by this... but don’t let our views change your opinion.”

Well, here goes Ellis, Kirsty and Nadine – can’t promise to make a whole lot of sense but I’ll do my best.

You have identified the one area of media reporting in which it’s absolutely right to shoot the messenger.

Glossy magazines, newspapers, dedicated websites and TV are all guilty of turning a passion for fashion into a debilitating, sometimes lethal weapon.

You talk of size zero, which is in itself something of a glossy fudge of reality. It sounds kind of trim. In fact it can be anything up to a chest-stomach-hips measurement of 30-22-32 inches – which for a grown woman isn’t trim, it’s emaciated.

If media people together – fashion editors in particular – refused to be part of a high fashion culture of adoring girls who look like poorly boys, dressed to kill and dying for a decent meal, couture houses might stop pushing stick-thin models out onto their catwalks.

But that will never happen. It is debated, discussed and promised repeatedly. But it will never happen.

Designers know their creations hang better on clothes-horses with skeletal frames. Their fabrics drape more attractively where there’s an absence of bum and bust.

And so the ultimate aspiration for any girl interested in fashion and beauty – and aren’t we all? – is to be dangerously skinny and wealthy enough to buy and wear the latest Dior, D&G, Valentino.

It isn’t a new problem. It was the Duchess of Windsor who – as Wallis Simpson – said firmly that a woman could neither be too thin nor too rich. She nabbed a prince who gave up his throne for her. Nothing changes that stays the same.

It’s a kind of tyranny, one into which women and girls buy enthusiastically at some point in their lives – some labour under it for all of their lives.

Belief is that when we are thin enough to be dressed to impress – and always close to passing out from lack of nutrition – we’ll be happy, gorgeous, transformed into who we were never destined to be. It is obviously false. It’s a dangerous fantasy and we know it.

But it persists because we are sold the illusion and delusion of starvation as salvation every minute of every day. And we accept it because we have been taught by a clever, massively profitable industry which preys on our insecurities – and vanity – never to be happy with the bodies we inhabit.

The media, in collusion with the fashion and beauty industry, is the messenger which purposefully undermines women’s chances of confidence, independence, self-esteem and self-respect.

The national newspaper which sells to more women than any other is the very same that routinely and regularly reports scathingly on the latest celebrity to gain a few pounds or display a bit of cellulite on her thighs. She wouldn’t warrant such bitter scrutiny if she’d boiled and eaten her own children.

And still women lap it all up. Body image and the pursuit of perfection is their religion.

Get it? Nope... me neither. You ask complex questions to which there are many complicated answers.

The simplest of them all though is money.

Isn’t it always?

Have your say

As a male just entering my fifth decade I don't get this at all- why a certain class of woman lets the style of clothes that they will wear be dictated to them by designers who clearly hate the female form. The overwhelming majority of men prefer women with curves not the straight up and down sticks that designers cut their clothes to fit.

Posted by Bolverk on 5 March 2013 at 23:31

The only female I can remember as being unhealthily thin but still actractive is Lesley Hornby, better known as Twiggy

Posted by Stemax1960 on 5 March 2013 at 16:04

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