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Shelley
12th January 2011, 04:41
This is one of those articles that indicates signs of progress, yet also shows that we still have a long way to go.

By now everyone has probably heard that anorexic model Isabelle Caro, who appeared in a number of frightening anti-ED posters a year ago, recently died, adding her name to the long list of models who have starved to death because of the fashion industry's promotion of fatal emaciation as an "ideal."

Well, the organizers of the Miss Italy pageant (which, as the title indicates, is the Italian equivalent of Miss America) wish to address this problem by encouraging fuller-figured women to compete for the title.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1346220/Anorexic-model-Isabelle-Caros-death-sparks-curvy-women-Miss-Italy-contest.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

The gist of the matter:

Curvy women with hourglass figures are being encouraged to take part in this year's Miss Italy beauty contest, organisers have revealed.

The 72-year-old pageant, which helped catapult movie legend Sophia Loren to fame when she took part in the 1950's, says bigger women are more relevant to today's Italian society.

Officials say they also want to reassure women that big is also beautiful and you do not have to be stick thin to be pretty - a move that comes just days after anorexic model Isabelle Caro died aged just 28.
The timing is not coincidental. The pageant's organizers specifically reference Caro's tragic death in their thinking:

Patron of the event Patrizia Mirigliani said:'Miss Italy has always been a reflection of the country and today women are more curvier so we want to portray that.

In recent years there has also been a tendency to stress that beauty is linked to size and we often see very thin models on the catwalk and on the television and that gives off the wrong idea.

'In saying this, the image of the model Isabelle Caro who died recently at 28 and who was famous for being anorexic springs to mind - her life was ruined because she followed what fashion had dictated, that she should be thin.''
I especially appreciate the last statement. Mirigliani correctly lays the responsibility for Caro's death exactly where it belongs -- at the footsteps of the anorexia-pushing fashion industry, which directly caused her eating disorder.

And in encouraging curvier women to participate in the pageant, the organizers state that they have women's well-being in mind:

Miss Mirigliani added:'We need to teach young women who are more impressionable that the image we see on TV of women who do not eat is not the role model they should be following.'

In recent years there have been several cases of size zero stick thin models which have hit the headlines including one case in 2007 where designer Rafaela Curiel asked 15 girls to leave a show because they were too thin.

Designers Giorgio Armani and Stefano Gabbana have also tried to steer away from using thin models in their campaigns as studies have shown that thin women put pressure on girls and can lead to eating disorders.

In Italy alone the latest figures available show that more than 300,000 girls in the country area affected with anorexia
Again, it's good to see acknowledgment that glamourized images of emaciated women do directly case anorexia.

However, some of the article's positivity is misplaced and shows the limitations of this development. The Armani and Dolce&Gabbana models are still painfully underweight, despite the article's claims that the designers are steering away from thin models.

Also, the size that the event's organizers are pushing for is still not genuinely plus-size, and is barely faux-plus:

Miss Mirigliani added:'We want women to know that beauty is genuine and if you are big that is not an issue. You are normal just like any other woman. If a contestant is a size 14 with curves in proportion I see no problem.

'The winner of Miss Italy should not be an erotic or far-from-reality figure it should be someone who Italian women can associate with and as statistics show women are getting bigger then we should reflect that.'
Since this is a British publication, the reference to "size 14" as the preferable size is likely in British numbers, which would translate to a mere faux-plus 10/12 in U.S. sizes. That is still visibly skinny and not truly full-figured.

Moreover, the reference to "curves in proportion" gives me pause. What "proportion"? The most gorgeous and subversive plus-size models have fullness in every aspect of their figures, especially in generous waistlines. If this pageant is going for girls with caved-in, unnaturally shrivelled waists, that is still inadequate.

But most of all, I'm troubled by the comment that Miss Italy "should not be an erotic or far-from-reality figure." Reality, fine, but "not erotic"? How insulting that as soon as the organizers call for a curvier Miss Italy, her figure can supposedly no longer be considered "erotic." It suggests that the organizers still believe that skinnier figures are more attractive, more "erotic," but are simply pushing for larger bodies in the name of P.R.

I suppose any motivations that introduce curvier contestants to Miss Italy or any other pageant are helpful. But size prejudice is definitely still there in the statements from the organizers of this contest. Only when the people running these events are truly pro-plus and recognize that fuller female bodies are more attractive, more "erotic," than underweight frames, will size celebration actually have triumphed.

Chad
15th May 2011, 21:53
The latest word of this topic is that Elena Miro, the "Lane Bryant of Italy," will be participating in the crowning of a special "Miss Curve d'Italia," which will apparently be awarded in conjunction with the regular Miss Italy competition.

The Miroglio Group, which owns Elena Miro, has issued a press release about its participation:

http://press.mirogliogroup.com/eng/comunicati_int.asp?id_com=200

Some of the language is admirably positive:

Elena Mirò’s Curvy Italy at Miss Italy

The Miroglio Group clothing brand to partner Miss Italy

The entry of Elena Mirò into the world of Miss Italy coincides with the opening up of the organization to curvy models.

A significant step encapsulating the change taking place in society and fashion around what is the ideal model of feminine beauty. A return to the past, and to the curves and healthy rotundity represented by the celebrated faces that distinguished early editions of Miss Italy. A universe made up of values, positive philosophy and feminine looks which has been embodied by Elena Mirò over recent years through many projects in favour of the “world of curves”.

The partnership with Miss Italy will feature a new ‘Miss Curvy Italy Elena Mirò’ sash to be awarded to the size-44 models who best match and express the union between Miss Italy’s philosophy of highlighting the “girl next door” and Elena Mirò, whose forte over time has been “full figure” beauty.

«The aesthetic revolution we have promoted at this year’s edition of Miss Italy - declared Patrizia Mirigliani - has found support and a perfect travelling companion in a brand that centres its philosophy round the ‘real’ beauty of women. Elena Mirò’s style, quality and ability to dress Mediterranean curves are values that I would say naturally match the contest and our way of contributing to the freedom of girls to participate without placing limits on measurements or sizes. To celebrate this event I can announce that each region will elect its own ‘Miss Curvy Italy Elena Mirò’, and the title will also be awarded during the national final. This is a moment on a par with other fundamental milestones in Miss Italy’s history» concluded the event’s patron.

«The Elena Mirò brand - said Elena Miroglio - expresses an alternative style of beauty to the model proposed by the media in recent years. A beauty that highlights the curvy lines of the female figure. Our participation in Miss Italy confirms the consistency of the decisions taken with our mission».
I love the reference to "A return to the past, and to the curves and healthy rotundity." Any time a company consciously favours the superior, pro-traditional, pro-beauty, pro-curvy aesthetic of the past over androgynous, utilitarian modernity, they're on the right track.

Also, it's interesting to learn "each region" will choose a Miss Curve of their own, so there will be a host of fuller-figured contestants at the final pageant. I hope the Miss Curve portion of the show will make it to an online video.

The downside, of course, is the reference to "size-44 models." As far as I know, an Italian size 44 is merely a size 10. Disappointing. This is the same problem that blights Elena Miro's fashion shows: a use of faux-plus models.

If, instead, the company had opted for models in an Italian size 48 (U.S. size 14), which was Barbara Brickner's size when she modelled for Elena Miro, then this development would have been far more significant.

Still, it will be wonderful to see Miss Italy contestants with at least a semblance of a figure competing for the title. Hopefully this will prompt other Miss Universe nations to crown fuller-figured winners.

Here's the official Miss Italy site (alas, only in Italian):

http://www.missitaliachannel.tv/italia.aspx