''Picture Me'' exposes fashion-industry abuses
I caught a segment on the Canadian TV series FashionTelevision on the weekend that described a new documentary called Picture Me. The film was made by a model and her boyfriend to expose some of the industry's abuses, especially toward models.
The model's voice-over explains how the film was conceived:
As the FashionTelevision host comments, the film highlights the mandated starvation that poisons the fashion world. In the movie,
There are countless horror stories, from girls being so famished that they eat cotton balls (I almost vomited when I heard that), to models being pressured to put their lives in jeopardy by having liposuction.
One already thin model tells of being put on a literal starvation diet, and states of her agency:
The most revealing insight can be gleaned from putting the two following quotes in opposition. One model states:
Now, juxtapose this with what another model says:
The models themselves recognize that women are supposed to look "more womanly" and "more curvy." But the people who run the fashion world have such a warped aesthetic, such degenerate tastes, that they see natural curves as a negative. In their sick minds, clothes look better if they "hang flat and straight."
Only someone who is not attracted to women at all could have such a twisted idea.
In fact, the opposite is true. As the images on the Judgment of Paris constantly prove, clothes only look good when the bodies underneath are sufficiently full that they form the fashions into rounded, curvaceous shapes.
The bottom line is clear: the problem with fashion is that it is run by people who have a distorted aesthetic, and who are not attracted to the womanly body, which is by nature full-figured and soft and round. These people must either change their aesthetic to accommodate the natural shape of womanly bodies, or get out of fashion, because their warped tastes are killing models and giving women rampant eating disorders. They have no business deciding how women they should look.
The director and the model who created the film say the following about the industry's professional abuses, but these words could just as easily apply to the industry's unacceptable mandate on androgynous emaciation:
Here's the segment itself:
I take exception to only two points. First, the "age" issue is a canard. Plus-size models like Kailee O'Sullivan were working in their early teens and were never mistreated, nor developed eating disorders. But the key is that she was working as a plus-size model.
Age is not the problem. Size is. Girls of any age could be working as models, given parental supervision, so long as they are plus-size models and are never told to drop a single pound, never pressured to lose an inch.
The other comment that is very wrong is this one, which comes from a fashion-industry lawyer:
Not quite. The problem is that the "beauty on the surface" isn't beauty at all -- it's a gaunt, androgynous appearance that is toxic for women. Rather if the image "on the surface" were one of timeless, full-figured beauty, if models were comfortably plus-size, then the "rotten activities underneath" would not exist.
Re: ''Picture Me'' exposes fashion-industry abuses
The Picture Me film has a web site, with links to the DVD and a slew of media articles about the project.
The revelations in it are horrifying. I can't believe that people can become numb to the weight abuse that this industry perpetrates.
I find it especially disgusting when models, just for the sake of their own selfish career interests, become apologists for an industry that they know is so toxic to young women.
This reminds me of a behind-the-scenes video from one of the seasons of Project Runway. (I can't remember whether this was already posted on the forum or not.) It shows the models on the show literally passing out on camera, due to their being underweight and underfed.
What's even more appalling, though, is to see the show's budding designers - who are obviously representative of the type of people who run the fashion industry - laughing at seeing these malnourished girls fainting, especially since the only reason these girls are so feeble is just so that they can stay emaciated enough to fit in the designers' tiny, oh-so-creative styles.
It is not natural for girls in their teens and 20s to be collapsing after standing on a runway for a few minutes! How self-absorbed does someone have to be to laugh at seeing enfeebled young girls fainting from starvation? It never even occurs to these designers that maybe these girls are passing out from a dangerous lack of caloric intake - and that there is something really wrong with an industry that allows this to happen.
The fashion industry needs significant reform, and increasing the size of the models would be the most basic and important first step, which would go a long way toward solving many of these problems. But for that to happen, the industry's "leaders" need to become accountable for their actions.
Re: ''Picture Me'' exposes fashion-industry abuses
Absolutely. The association of an underweight appearance with youth is ludicrous; and is merely yet another fashion-industry myth, another attempt to excuse the promotion of emaciation as being merely a consequence of the age of the models. Nonsense. North America abounds in full-figured teens that could make excellent models. Indeed, fleshy curves are emblematic of the robust vitality of youth, the well-fed freshness of blossoming womanhood. It is in old age that the body becomes shrivelled and dessicated, losing its rounded contours.
Nevertheless, Ziff's Picture Me documentary is highly commendable and should be required viewing not only for everyone in the fashion industry (as well as the mothers of any daughters who are considering modelling careers), but also for legislators, who, upon viewing the horrors that it exposes, might be persuaded to finally being regulating this industry as it need to be regulated, from banning underweight models to mandating the use of fuller-figured girls.
The only way in which the film might have been improved is if it had offered constructive suggestions in addition to its (completely valid) criticisms. One cannot expect each project to do everything, but a segment on plus-size modelling as a corrective to minus-size tyranny, as a healthier and more positive expression of fashion, would have been most welcome.
Here is an image of Shannon Marie from an early issue of Mode magazine, when the goddess was still in her teens. We have never posted it on the forum before, owing to the so-so hairstyle. But although Shannon Marie became even more gorgeous in subsequent seasons as she blossomed into a more genuinely curvaceous size, her astounding beauty was already evident in this early image. She was already the most beautiful plus-size model in the industry, surpassing even the then-curvy Sophie Dahl. Observe that although this tear sheet is in the "high fashion" mode, with the dramatic eye makeup and the curious hairstyle, it is nevertheless a gorgeous picture. Shannon Marie possesses the high cheekbones that are emblematic of supermodels, but attractively softened and roundly contoured, not harsh (as is the case with today's androgynous skeletons). Shannon's is a grown-up version of girlish beauty, with both maturity and youthfulness in perfect harmony. Moreover, Shannon is clearly not a starving model. The trace of soft fleshiness at the neck is intoxicatingly sensual. She achieves a chic, artistic look, but retains a healthy appearance as well, unlike the corpse-like emaciation of minus-size waifs.
A model such as this, blessed with such astounding beauty and modelling talent, could meet all of the artistic needs of a Vogue or Elle, but could do so while retaining a touch of softness that readers would find pleasing as well as aspirational, a look that they could recognize as a heightened incarnation of their own appearance. This is a Classical look that is ideal but not unnatural, perfect but not plastic, and worlds superior to the warped, cadaverous standard that modern fashion has instituted.
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