This quote by Kate Moss is full of controversy and debate. As much as I admire her and think she is a Queen in the fashion industry, who the heck is she to define beauty? This quote lead to a whirlwind of terrifying questions: How skinny are we talking? Is to be skinny to be beautiful? Does that mean that girls carrying a little junk in the trunk are ugly? Is this her belief or had she just been totally brainwashed by the industry? God knows.
Let’s talk more about Kate. She’s a supermodel, role model and icon that dominates the fashion media. This ‘icon’ implies that being unfeasibly, unhealthily skinny (so much so that you’re probably going to be left with amenorrhea and infertility) is what every little girl should aspire to be. It’s unnerving that there are a number of individuals and companies that will agree with Mossy. In magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, you seldom see anything other than young, tall, skinny women. Advertising companies have this clever little trick; advertising products in a way that will make the potential consumer feel as though they need this specific product in their life in order to acquire the particular lifestyle being portrayed by the model (for example, a young man wearing a business suit, stood next to an expensive sports car, surrounded by women, would make the viewer feel as though purchasing this car will make them more successful and appear more attractive to the opposite sex). From this we can deduce that the clothes/products being promoted in these magazines are aimed at a particular audience – the skinny and those who are susceptible to feeling they should be skinny.
Another company whom require their models to look a certain way is the ‘Victoria’s Secret’ company. They ask their ‘Victoria’s Secret Angels’ (models) to be taller than 5’9” and to weigh around 115lb (around 8st). To me, this seems ridiculous. These measurements are similar for most runway companies and their models tend to wear a size 4 or 6. The average height and weight of a British woman is 5’3” and 11st, which really puts into perspective how difficult this ideology of perfection is to acquire. During post-production, images of these models would be airbrushed and Photoshopped in order to portray a societal ideology of beauty. With regards to my previous point on acquiring the lifestyle, young girls would feel as though they must be this thin before purchasing/looking good in the underwear modelled by the likes of Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevingne; both of whom are major role models on social media at the minute.
After seeing such images of possible role models for young girls and adults, is this the reason as to why there is such hype and desire to look a certain way? You only need to google phrases such as ‘pro anorexia’ to come up with about 189,000 web results. People have created blogs that are dedicated to promoting anorexia and have gone so far as to follow it as if it were a religion. During my research I found a list of ‘tips’ of things to do instead of eating when you feel hungry; who chews ice when they’re hungry?! The fact that the media has reduced people into feeling the need to follow such strict rules and regulations is despicable.
Another media fuelled trend is the act of ‘fat-shaming’; which Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence has been the unfortunate victim of at the hands on Fashion Police comedian Joan Rivers. J-Law has always been viewed as a ‘fat’ actress in Hollywood, despite her being a size 12-14, which is actually below the american average of size 16. Despite the insults, Jen is ever the optimist and remains positive, often making jokes about food such as ‘I can name a lot of things that taste better than skinny feels’. Women should be empowering each other, not dragging each other down. Dove pride themselves with the slogan ‘Imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety’, whilst aiming to obtain a wider definition of beauty that is not limiting or unattainable, like the one that society has constructed. This slogan was promoted by the ‘Real Women’ campaign that used ‘real women with real bodies with real curves’ and it’s honestly one of the most beautiful advertising strategies I’ve seen. Women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities standing together arm in arm to conqure the skinny stigma. I love it.
A bold statement was made by some European modelling agencies, mainly in France, to conqure fat-shaming by banning ultra-thin models from the runway. This was an act made in order to prevent females from feeling that they must conform to the industry and aspire to look like said models. Could this not be argued as skinny shaming? Surely the solution would be to put models of all sizes up of the runway so as not to discriminate and to prevent one size being idolised? That way people are able to make their own judgement and draw their own conclusions on what is beautiful.
Discussing weight will always be a sensitive issue, and it always will. There will also always be a stigma around skinny. The fashion industry will have their way and brainwash millions of kids a year; but it’s just important to bare in mind that nobody is really right or wrong here. Yes, obesity is unhealthy, and being underweight is equally unhealthy. Perhaps not everyone has the face of a supermodel and the body of a godess, but for confidence’s sake, can we all just accept our own size, accept other people’s, compliment them and move on. There’s beauty in everything, and maybe not everyone’s minds are open enough to see that.
Be proud of your body, no matter what. This summer, get your itty bitty bikini out and be confident.
This essay was initially written as part of my Photography A-Leve as I was exploring the question ‘what is beauty?’. Therefore this post is more informitive than inspiring, however, I hope that you’re all a little wiser on the topic and can be compelled to be more body posi this summer!