View Full Version : Kim Alexis: Supermodel Starvation

5th February 2011, 19:10
<br>Our recent <a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=2051" target="_blank">post</a> about plus-size modelling in the 1980s brought to mind another aspect of the fashion industry from that memorable decade, the phenomenon of the "supermodel."

We have encountered much commentary of late contending that the fashion world should return to the size standard of the '80s supermodel in lieu of its current anorexic ideal. While superficially appealing, this proposition is deeply flawed and potentially extremely harmful. Why? We'll get to that a little later in this post.

First, though, to exemplify the type, we will discuss the most attractive supermodel of them all. No, not the terribly overrated Cindy Crawford, and certainly not the outright unattractive Christy Turlington, nor even the once-pretty Claudia Schiffer, Cheryl Tiegs, or Christie Brinkley. Rather, if pressed to name the most beautiful of all of the industry's past straight-size supermodels, we must acknowledge the lovely <strong>Kim Alexis</strong>. <p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/20.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/20a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Please have some patience with us as we recap her career.

(Trust us; this is all going somewhere.)<p><center>* * *</center><p>With over 500 covers to her credit, as well as countless editorial appearances in everything from <i>Vogue</I> to <i>Sports Illustrated,</I> Kim Alexis was the definitive blonde beauty of the 1980s.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/38.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/38b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Unlike today's ghastly minus-size skeletons, with their "ugly pretty" looks (an oxymoronic phrase that is simply a euphemism for homely), Kim was a genuinely attractive woman, although she was no less underweight than any other working model of the time.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/37.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/37a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Looking at Kim's images, one recognizes how the cultural trope of the "supermodel" as the epitome of female beauty originated, displacing, for a while, the decades-old status of the Hollywood ingénue as the embodiment of feminine attractiveness.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/42.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/42b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Not only were models like Kim Alexis able to fulfill the requirements of the high-fashion industry of the day, but they appealed to men as well. Looking at this paradisaical image from <i>Sports Illustrated,</I> one understands how heterosexual men once came to admire supermodels as much as contemporary fashionistas did. Her thighs, for example, exhibit at least a trace of substance, and she has a generally pleasing look about her visage.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/33.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/33a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Today's models, by contrast are man repellent. But no one could look at Kim Alexis and deny that she was beautiful. She was the straight-size industry's equivalent of someone like Shannon Marie, the "fairest of them all" in her genre, and if she had been a plus-size model, Kim would have ranked just below Shannon herself as the most gorgeous girl in the industry.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/50.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/50c.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Looking at Kim's magazine covers, one realizes that not only were models once far more beautiful than they are today, but that the covers themselves were also more appealing. Unlike the <strike>edgy</strike> ugly covers that blight fashion magazines nowadays, Kim's <i>Vogue</I> covers are quite enticing, with a wholesome, gentle sexiness.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/04.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/04a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Some of her <i>Vogue</I> covers even have an Old World quality, as exemplified by the folkloric collar on this rustic blouse and the ladylike hairstyle. When was the last time that you saw a <i>Vogue</I> cover as attractive as this?<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/05.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/05a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>But it was undoubtedly in her many <i>Cosmopolitan</I> covers that Kim Alexis truly epitomized the look of young womanhood of the 1980s.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/11.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/11a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Consider her flowing blonde hair in this cover, her rapacious expression, and the glimpse of her décolletage, then reflect on the fact that there once was a time when even straight-size models exhibited a semblance of a bust.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/16.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/16a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Anyone who was alive in the 1980s will immediately recognize the look that Kim projects in these covers, a look that was also seen in the plutocratic television programming of the decade. The vixens on shows like <i>Dynasty</I> exuded a similar kind of sophisticated glamour (albeit not nearly as well).<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/12.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/12a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>The personae that Kim Alexis embodied for <i>Cosmo</I> are the girlfriends or wives of powerful men, high-class vixens who are pampered and spoiled and rich beyond imagining, who have posh tastes and limitless vanity.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/14.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/14a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>And yet, for all their greedy allure, such women have a trace of softness and femininity just beneath their polished makeup, the look of Midwestern girls whose beauty has deservedly given them the world on a platter, taking them from their small-town roots to become the consorts of power-brokers and empire-builders.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/13.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/13a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>The look of the '80s wasn't a childlike girlishness, nor was it a long-in-the-tooth "mature" womanhood (as is too often the case today). Rather, it was the look of the tigress, of a carnivorous, excitingly selfish vixenhood, a wildness and carnality that was nevertheless chic, not vulgar. (Incidentally, notice the tag line on this cover: <i>"The Return of the Curve."</I> If only it had been so!)<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/17.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/17a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>And yet, what is truly remarkable about the youthful, fair beauty that Kim Alexis once possessed is its versatility. Today's models, with their bizarre features, can only do one look: "edgy." But when supermodels were reasonably attractive, as some were in the '70s and '80s, they could create any persona at all, from the vixens that Kim personified for <i>Cosmopolitan</I> to the fresh-faced, wholesome brides that she incarnated in her bridal work. (Shannon Marie, another superlative beauty, also possessed this chameleon-like ability.)<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/19.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/19a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Doesn't Kim perfectly exemplify one's innate conception of the sweet, innocent, loving wife on this cover? She looks adorable.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/18.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/18a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Kim could also transform herself from a twentysomething bride to a fresh-faced teenage girl for publications such as the youth-oriented <i>Mademoiselle.</I><p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/08.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/08a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>The following <i>Mademoiselle</I> covers illustrates another way in which the 1980s embraced beauty whereas contemporary culture revels in ugliness. Today, our media world is dominated by a repellent colour palette of orange and teal. This phenomenon is especially marked in modern <a href="http://theabyssgazes.blogspot.com/2010/03/teal-and-orange-hollywood-please-stop.html" target="_blank">film</a>, but it pervades image-making in general and is a direct consequence of the advent of digital manipulation. By contrast, notice that the colour scheme of the 1980s was the exact opposite of orange and teal; it was a lively but pleasant mixture of blues and pinks and yellows, a palette that beautifully set off light skin tones, fair eyes, and blonde hair.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/07.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/07a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Even more attractive than Kim Alexis's many covers were her countless ads. Perfume ads have always constituted the most beautiful images that the fashion industry produces, and Kim's perfume campaigns are no exception, from the tousled opulence of the model's hair in the following advertisement, to the way in which the glamorous ad at the top of this post showcases the model's dazzlingly fair complexion via a "spun sugar" makeup scheme.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/21.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/21a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Yet it was in realm of cosmetics artistry that Kim Alexis likely created her most significant body of work, and one that we can freely reference, given that these images exhibit her lovely facial features rather than her non-plus figure.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/22.jpeg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/22.jpeg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>The model's Nordic skin tone (her family being of Swedish descent) made her the perfect canvas for every sort of makeup look.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/34.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/34a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Prettiest of all, of course, are the pink colour schemes that Kim so often displayed, which perfectly complemented her fair eyes and golden hair.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/24.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/24a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Indeed, pink was <i>the</I> colour of the 1980s, as one sees in the lighting of the music videos of the time. The contemporary pinks and fuchsias and purples were meant to create a futuristic look, yet the results were still feminine.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/23.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/23b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Kim's fair complexion allowed cosmetics artists to showcase glamorous looks as well. Once again, the comparison with Shannon Marie is obvious, who appeared in countless makeup editorials in <i>Mode</I> because she had the perfect face and complexion for such work.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/31.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/31a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Kim's skin tone was amenable to every hue in the colour spectrum,<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/25.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/25a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>even going into counter-intuitive territory of golds and browns.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/27.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/27a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Ultimately, though, the model most often showcased her native pink themes. In this she recalls some of today's fair-featured plus-size models, such as Kelsey Olson or Katherine Roll, with their enchanting peaches-and-cream looks.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/29.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/29a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>There is an intrinsic girlishness and femininity about fair complexions with just a hint of a flush at the cheeks, as this ad so effectively suggests in a host of different ways: in its colour scheme, its copy, its lacy wardrobe, and in the flirtatious glance from the model.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/28.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/28a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Even when Kim tackled more editorial looks, the overarching aesthetic was still one of beauty, unlike the ugly aesthetic that pervades editorial work today. Here, the hairstyle is futuristic, but the model's rosy complexion, red lips, sapphire eyes, and vulnerable expression maintain a femininity and an aesthetic appeal.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/32.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/32.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Kim's most artistic cosmetics-oriented image is undoubtedly the following fascinating picture from an Italian magazine, in which she embodies a kind of Ice Princess, a Winter Witch. The wild hairstyle and the model's petulant expression add a touch of devilry to the overall effect. The lacy outfit, on the other hand, has a 19th-century quality of opulence, as do the ornate earrings. One thinks of her as Lucy Westenra bitten by Count Dracula in Stoker's famous novel. Let no one claim that fair-featured "pretty pretty" models such as Kim cannot do editorial. In fact, they do finer editorial work than any of today's "ugly/edgy" models, because their beauty allows them to explore wild themes while maintaining a high level of aesthetic appeal.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/26.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/26c.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Another way in which the supermodels of the past trumped the waifs of today was in having clear, radiant skin. These days, models with ruined or aged complexions are Photoshopped into plastic waxiness and still find work, no matter how artificial they appear. But prior to Photoshop, models actually had to maintain healthy, natural, youthful skin.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/54.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/54.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>As these two raw images of the model <i>sans</i> makeup demonstrate, Kim possessed truly amazing skin, with nothing except a touch of exhaustion under the eyes detracting from absolute, natural perfection.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/55.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/55a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Kim Alexis's long, fair tresses were the stuff of legend. Perhaps her signature look was a regal and aristocratic hairstyle that had her golden locks cascading off to the side and flowing over one shoulder, as exemplified in this ad for a hair-care product.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/45.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/45a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>When recapping the career of a fashion model, though, one must inevitably cover the images in which she actually promoted fashion. Never would we do this with a present-day minus-size anorexic, except to point our the horrors of the modern industry's skeletal standards. But with Kim Alexis, an '80s supermodel, it is reasonably possible to find images in which the model does not appear completely emaciated.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/40.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/40a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>In another testament to the malleability of the fair-featured Nordic look, observe how regal and aristocratic Kim seems in this fur editorial, coolly elegant and sophisticated.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/36.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/36b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Bear in mind that she produced these mature images at the same time that she shot her teen-looking <i>Mademoiselle</I> covers and her girl-next-door bridal images.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/39.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/39b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>This editorial conveys a sense of wealth and opulence. Even in this image, skinny as she was, one can see the belt attractively pressing into a hint of softness around her middle. This slight trace of flesh, as well as her patrician beauty, perfectly suits the theme of the layout.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/41.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/41a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>A very different fashion editorial of the time shows her channelling another Kim, Kim Novak, the most gorgeous blonde of the late '50s and early '60s, whose crown of iconic beauty Mrs. Alexis inherited. The set of the face and the look in the eyes could have come directly from <i>Vertigo</I> or from <i>Bell, Book, and Candle,</I> Kim Novak's greatest films.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/35.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/35a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Even in images where the model's figure <i>does</i> appear painfully thin, the doll-like prettiness of her facial features mitigates the effect and lends the image beauty (as do the romantic frills of this very pretty dress).<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/44.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/44a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>For a touch of wholesome sensuality, here is an image of Kim sleeping under soft, downy covers, looking for all the world like an angel at rest.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/46.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/46b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>And here is how the same angel might look in the morning, if one could sustain one's dream into the waking hours.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/49.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/49a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>In short, when one considers the sum total of Kim Alexis's modelling work--her 500 covers, her fashion editorials in the industry's top magazines, her ads for perfume, cosmetics, hair products, etc.--one must acknowledge that she truly was "the face of the '80s." With her fair features, light eyes, and golden tresses, she was the American Beauty of her day, just as Lillian Russell (who possessed many of the same physical features) had been, a century earlier.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/48.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/48a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>And since Kim was genuinely attractive in a way that appealed to both fashion-industry insiders and to heterosexual men, she gave these disparate groups a common ideal of beauty.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/63.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/63a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Alas, how times have changed. Current straight-size skeletons are attractive to no one except to the degenerate fashion establishment. The polarity between the standard of appearance for "women's magazines" and for "men's magazines" is so vastly different that each seems to target a different species. Cadaverously thin, corpse-like models dominate "high fashion," while ropy-muscled, radioactively tanned amazons with plastic busts populate "men's magazines," both ideals painfully unnatural and unattractive, both modern, both anti-feminine, both abhorrent to any traditionalists.

This decline in the standard of female beauty reflects how much our culture as a whole has coarsened in just two short decades, and how our media has been taken over by individuals who wish to mandate freakish ugliness as the societal norm and to eradicate any last traces of traditional Western aesthetics.<p><center>* * *</center><p>"All of this is fine and good," readers must be saying to themselves by now, "but what does it have to do with plus-size beauty?"

Plenty. Here is one of Kim Alexis's modelling comp cards from the peak of her career.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/58.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/58.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>Did you miss the pertinent info? All right, we'll show you another one. See if you catch it now:<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/57.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/57.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>That's right. We have two more cards from Kim's supermodel days, and they show the same thing:<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/57a.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/57a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>A size 8.

A dress size 8.

The world's top supermodel of the 1980s, the cover girl of <i>Vogue, Cosmo</I> and dozens of other magazines, the "face" of many a makeup line and perfume brand, the star of campaigns for Versace and Christian Dior and countless other fashion labels . . .

. . . and a size 8.

Today, a good portion of the fashion industry tries to pretend that a size 8 is a "plus-size model." Obviously it is nothing of the sort, and any such contention is disgusting. But the same size that used to be the standard measure of a mainstream fashion model <i>just one generation ago</I> is now miscast and mischaracterized as "plus size," whereas standard "models" have come to resemble concentration-camp victims, pitiful anorexics who look like they are about to die on the runway in every show--and sometimes do.<p><center>* * *</center><p>But it gets worse.

Kim Alexis was probably the first model of any kind who ever caught our notice. Before the proliferation of the Web, before Sophie Dahl or Kate Dillon, before Emme made her big breakthrough, we saw the following magazine on a newsstand at McMaster University in 1993:<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/00.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/00a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>We had never heard of any of the girls on this cover. (After all, what did we care about fashion?) But the sight of such a gorgeous blonde goddess alongside the caption, <i>"Starved herself for days"</I> triggered something in us. The very concept seemed so unjust, as if a troll had captured this fair princess, imprisoned her, and deprived her of food and water, like a prisoner of war. It was incomprehensible that such an attractive woman could be deprived of <i>anything.</i> She should have had all her desires satisfied, all her wants met by a thousand eager suitors. Kings and princes should have been vying to feed her to her heart's content. That she should have been made to starve . . . it was unforgivable and intolerable. Whatever circumstance or conditions were causing such an affront to the natural order of things had to end. Now.

That one blazing moment, the sight of Kim Alexis on that <i>People</i> magazine cover, and the concept of such beauty sentenced to deprivation whereas it should have been rewarded with unreserved entitlement and limitless gratification, was the true moment of conception of the Judgment of Paris, though the site was only born five years later, when a medium (the Internet) had been invented to house it.<p><center>* * *</center><p>The contents of the <i>People</I> <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20109578,00.html" target="_blank">story</a>, particularly the information about Kim Alexis, seemed even crueller than what the cover promised. Reading about the model's hunger was like reading about a fairy-tale heroine imprisoned in a tower. One felt the overwhelming urge to rush to her rescue.

As the magazine related:

After a talent scout discovered her in Buffalo's June II modeling school, the 5'10", 145-lb, blonde beauty was led down a greener path by John Casablancas, owner of the high-powered Elite modeling agency. "He guaranteed me a certain amount of money, "she says, "if I lost 15 lbs."

ALEXIS: I remember starving myself for four days in a row. When I first started out, I was rooming in a New York City hotel with Kelly Emberg. One night I came home, and I was eating only a head of lettuce for dinner. Kelly walked in and said, "You're eating a whole head of lettuce? How could you?" <strong>I cried</strong> and said, "But it's all I've had all day. It's not even 50 calories!"
Those tears pierced our heart. But there was worse to come:

ALEXIS: I think I was a normal person before I started screwing around with all these diets. My metabolism got screwed up. I lost my period for two full years. [I] had mental anguish about eating. I remember every booking I'd go to. I'd dread lunch because the client would look at me and say, "You're not going to eat that, are you?" <strong>Women who styled clothes for the shoots would say, "Honey, your ass is a little big." They didn't want me to be perfect, so they would pick on the one flaw</strong>. I cried for the first year of my career.
The article went on, but we could hardly read it. The thought of such a goddesslike beauty in tears from food deprivation was simply too much to bear. To this day, we remember reading that magazine in the bookstore, besides ourselves with anger that any force in the world could exist to make this beauty cry and starve, overwhelmed with an impossible desire to comfort her and to dry her tears.

The jealous motivations of the wardrobe stylists that Kim described--like ugly stepsisters, consumed with envy, trying to put a blonde goddess in her place, shrewishly using weight as the only means by which they could falsely question her superlative beauty--also exposed something very revealing about human nature, something that Nietzsche's philosophy described so well: the impulse by everything that crawls on the ground to destroy anything that has height, to ruin anything great or beautiful.

And sure enough, while researching the model's career this week, we came upon the following image, which is identified as the model's very first published work. This is Kim Alexis prior to her starvation regimen. She clearly looks softer and fuller (and thus more attractive) than in subsequent years, with an appealing roundness in her facial features and even a trace of fleshiness at the neck. Today, appallingly, even faux-plus models look skinnier than this.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/53.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/53b.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>That anyone could have wanted to deprive this model of the soft, feminine appearance that she possessed in the above image is incomprehensible--but typical of degenerate fashion-industry thinking, then as now.<p><center>* * *</center><p>Now we come to the point with which we began this thread. The idea of encouraging the fashion industry to return to the "supermodel" standard of the past would be a hopelessly inadequate solution to the anorexia crisis that fashion has propagated.

While it is true that models today are even more harrowingly emaciated than they were in the 1980s, those supermodels were famine victims as well. To maintain a size 8--much less than what her body wanted to be--Kim Alexis was <i>still</I> starving herself, still suffering from food deprivation, still subsisting on rations that were tantamount to a slow death. She lost her period <i>for two years.</I> This is not merely unnatural--it is suicide. Fifty calories a day is a death sentence, a subsistence level far below even what the Geneva Convention mandates for prisoners of war.

What people today have forgotten is that just as current models are underweight and a trigger for eating disorders, so were the supposedly "healthier" supermodels of the past. To return to the '80s standard would be an improvement, but a meagre and inadequate one at best, and would leave a situation where the fashion industry was still starving its models and still propagating anorexia.<p><center>* * *</center><p>And here is the truly crucial consideration.

Some individuals in the fashion industry are attempting to create a nightmarish scenario in which size-8 models are classified as plus-size models.

But as we have just learned, size-8 models must starve themselves to maintain that inadequate weight, ruining their health, leading a miserable existence, and putting their lives in jeopardy. Furthermore, their effect on women in general is ten times worse. Few individuals possess supermodel height, so for most women to replicate modelling looks, they must literally become anorexic.

To diminish plus-size modelling into such a tiny size, an '80s supermodel size, is to destroy it as a force for positive body image. To reduce plus-size models to these underweight standards is to make them just as harmful to women's body image as were the straight-size supermodels of the past--because both groups embody <i>the same inadequate size.</I>

Faux-plus models are as damaging to women's self-esteem and body image as were the straight-size supermodels of yesteryear. Both groups were and are unnaturally thin, thus both groups foster negative body image and eating disorders.<p><center>* * *</center><p>The solution, then, is to reject the faux-plus size (i.e., the '80s supermodel size) as a standard size of plus-size models. It is simply not enough. Not nearly enough.

Rather, plus-size models should be <i>genuinely</i> full-figured: size 16 or higher. How much higher? As much as is comfortable for each individual model.

For some models, a size 16 is still far too meagre. To maintain those proportions, they still need to deprive themselves, denying themselves the extra food that they crave. Only when they blossom into a size 26 or 28 are they finally able to comfortably eat much as they want and have a pleasurable relationship with food, indulging themselves freely.

Only then, when plus-size models are encouraged to be as full-figured as they like, but no smaller than a genuinely curvaceous size (16 or better), can they become a true force for good in terms of body image, undoing the damage that is wrought by the straight-size industry's anorexic standard and showing women that they can be gorgeous and fashionable no matter how full-figured their physiques.<p><center>* * *</center><p>It is understandable why some people would want plus-size models to resemble the supermodels of the 1980s. By comparison with the ugly androgynes who dominate the straight-size industry, and indeed by comparison with more than a few current faux-plus models, the supers were far more gorgeous, seemingly offering a healthier standard than size-0 waifdom.

But their size-8 physiques were still far too skinny, and maintaining them caused the models to develop harrowing eating disorders, scarcely less debilitating than the life-threatening illnesses that beset the emaciated models of today.

Only a return to the Classical full-figured measure, embodied by gorgeous and genuinely full-figured models over a size 16, can redeem the fashion industry, turning it into a source of positive body image and restoring the timeless feminine ideal of beauty.

Here is one more <i>Vogue</i> cover featuring the best of the supermodels, Kim Alexis, who would have made a truly gorgeous plus-size model, had she ever blossomed into the fuller size to which her body naturally inclined.<p><center><a href="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/03.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/ka/03a.jpg" border="0" title="Click to enlarge" alt="Click to enlarge"></a></center><p>(No, despite the "plus" cover copy and the Judgment of Paris purple/green colour scheme, this is not a mock-up that we created, nor is it a bona fide plus-size issue from Conde Nast, but merely a <i>Vogue</I> edition, likely from Europe, that happened to use the word "plus" to indicate added content, not model size. But it does allow one to dream of what could have been . . .)

5th February 2011, 20:45
Thank you for such an informative post. When I think about it, I do remember models in the 1970s and '80s as being bigger than the ones we see today. The waifs have ruled the fashion industry for so long that one forgets this fact.

I was outraged while reading about the abuse that Kim endured whenever she wanted (or rather, needed) to eat, and how she was treated by that jealous stylist because of not being a stick-straight waif! Only a bitter, plain Jane could hate such a beautiful-looking girl and seek to take her down a notch with such pettiness.

Many people who want the return of the so-called "supermodel size" are looking back towards those times with rose-colored glasses. This post reminds us that even back then, the situation was bad, and has only become uglier and more dangerous for young women trying to get into the industry. While size 8 may be better than size 4 or size 0, it is not ideal, and there are many women who have no wish to maintain such a small size or see it become the standard look that women are compelled to achieve, inside the fashion industry or outside of it.

The observation about the better skin complexion of models in past decades was very interesting. I have noticed this too. It would seem that in fashion today, anything goes: unattractive-looking girls and severely unhealthy models with obviously bad skin are allowed to work. After all, there's Photoshop. The only requirement is that they be ready to drop dead from starvation. I believe that the bad skin issue would clear up if they were allowed to gain significant weight. After all, extra weight helps to beautify the skin and keep it youthful looking, longer. They would probably enjoy longer careers.

7th February 2011, 03:14
This discussion put me in mind of an article that I read a few months ago:


The relevant portions:

Models of yesteryear remember the glory days

August 16, 2010

Fresh-faced with the innocence of youth, shorter in stature and curvier of figure, the models of the late 1960s to early '80s were a far cry from the ideals of the industry today.

"It was very glamorous. Back in those days I remember modelling really was a profession," [Sandy] Clark said. "A lot of our models were 5' 7" to 5' 10", they certainly weren't over 6 feet in height. Our girls were very much more the girl next door. They were fresh-faced, they smiled."

Ms Clark said weight, which is an ongoing issue in today's modelling circles, was not so contentious.

"You were doing well whether you were a 10, 12 or 14," she said. "There was no size 6."

TV weather presenter Jane Reilly, who started out with Sandy Clark Modelling Agency, said life in front of the camera in the 1970s was "very exciting".

"We were very fresh faced, no one was air-brushed, we didn't have spray tans," she said.
Even given that Australian sizes are one step bigger than U.S. sizes, that's still far curvier than what's accepted in "mainstream" fashion today. At that time there was no U.S. size 4 (let alone 2 or 0), and regular models were 8, 10, 12 - the size of today's faux-plus models (!).

It must have been nice, as well, to have an industry without spray tans or airbrushing. That ties in to the Kim Alexis ideal, with her fair features.

What the original post in this thread stated is very true: on the one hand, "mainstream" models were far more attractive two decades ago, when beauty was favoured over today's edgy/ugliness. But on the other hand, that's also when plus-size models were actually plus-size (size 16 or up) - and that's what the full-figured fashion industry needs to return to, to truly be size positive and to combat eating disorders instead of propagating them.

An '80s supermodel standard is not the solution. Only true and legitimate plus-size beauty (size 16, 18, 20...) is the answer.

10th April 2011, 18:49
I was reading a story today about modelling in the Boston market. It's not a significant article, except for one pertinent excerpt that ties back to the Kim Alexis post.


The author of the article is a former Ford straight-size model. Her comments are very revealing:

Back in 1977 when I first started modeling in New York, most girls were a size 6, 8, or even a 10. [Remember: she's talking about the straight-size industry.] When I posted a FORD New York headsheet on my Facebook page, many women tagged themselves in it as a way to identify with the larger sizes, as opposed to a smaller size. The women who tagged themselves sent me emails stating that they felt good when they saw the sizes of the models back then, 10s and 12s were normal and it meant that they could feel better about themselves since they were of similar size. Again I say, when did models become double zero's?
Imagine that. Even models who were size 10 and 12 (!), let alone 6 and 8, were working as straight-size models. And that's how it should be, because models under a size 14 ARE straight-size.

It is literally true, then, that the thin girls who are being passed off as "plus-size models" today are the exact equivalent of what straight-size models were, just a couple of decades ago. The plus-size models of the time, on the other hand, were authentically full-figured: size 16s, 18s, 20s, and so forth. Those girls may not have scored prestigious campaigns or mainstream magazine covers, but at least they were doing commercial work. At least they were accepted at top agencies. At least they had a category for themselves. At least there were truly full-figured bodies somewhere in the fashion world.

But today, with straight-size models pushing plus-size models out of the plus-size category, the bigger girls are excluded from fashion altogether.

I do regret that sizes 8-12 are being excluded from straight-size fashion, which is where they belong. But that doesn't justify eradicating models size 16+ altogether.

The plus-size industry must start representing full-figured women again by including girls over a size 16. And of course, the straight-size industry needs to be reformed as well.

Sizes 8-12 were perfectly acceptable for straight-size advertising two decades ago, and they still are today. It's not as if the entire female population has suddenly turned into 0s and 2s. Quite the contrary.

And just as there are at least as many full-figured women size 18+ buying clothing today as there once were (many more, in fact), so do these women deserve to see fashions on models size 18+.

The fashion industry needs to start getting better about size, instead of constantly getting worse.