Size celebration vs. the fashion establishment
Many of the topics that come up on this forum deal with news articles about the fashion industry and body image. These articles often involve journalists asking members of the fashion "establishment" why their industry promotes anorexia by exclusively using emaciated, corpse-like models.
Dissecting these articles is important but frustrating, because the fashion apologists' excuses are pathetically weak. Yet the journalists who interview them never challenge them on the flimsiness and doublespeak of their excuses, but allow their easily refutable claims to stand unquestioned.
This new Guardian article is a rare exception. It's a must-read.
In it, finally, some fashion insiders get called on their B.S.
The caption sets up the discussion
First, the designers try to defend the perversity of the fashion industry by claiming that it's about "extremes." Ms. Gold acknowledges this but irrefutably points out that the girls' bodies don't have to be "extreme" to the point of looking sick.
Ludicrously, the designers say the following:
What???? These designers aren't "locked" into anything! They're implying that some vague outside force is making them choose cadaverous models. But that's a falsehood. They, as designers, choose their own models. They make these choices. They could choose differently, any time they wish. It's their choice. They're hiring the models.
Then one of the designers says something so nonsensical, resorting to such a thoroughly debunked canard, that I'm amazed he could even say it with a straight face:
Think about it: The whole point of this Guardian article, and of the hundreds upon hundreds of articles that have been written about the fashion industry's promotion of anorexia, is how distractingly emaciated the minus-size models are. Those models are nothing but distracting. Distracting is exactly what they are, more than anything else -- given the endless reams of press that this issue gets. This designer is literally saying the opposite of what is blatantly, obviously true -- as proven by this very article, in which he is participating!
But he lets a moment of unintentional candour slip out when he says:
There we go. "As we want it." That's what it comes down to, with the fashion establishment. As they want it.
Well, if "as they want it" tiggers anorexia, then they cannot be allowed to have it "as they want it," any more than someone wishing to sell asbestos clothing would be allowed to do so, given that asbestos leads to a fatal illness (and anorexia is likewise very often fatal).
But here's where Ms. Gold takes off her gloves and punches a hole in his argument:
Brilliant. She just pointed out that by this designer's very practice of artificially augmenting his models' figures, he acknowledged that a fuller figure was "more conducive to creating fashion."
Next, the designer acknowledges that fashion "privileges one shape" (although a size 0 is no "shape" at all), and Ms. Gold continues to deflate his balloon:
Applause, and kudos to her for having the temerity to say this, point blank.
Next, the designers shift to the "wealth" excuse. (And notice how this discussion proceeds. When one excuse gets demolished, they shift to another, then another, even when their excuses contradict one another. They themselves don't even believe anything they say. They're just spewing out well-rehearsed, rehashed lines that others have adopted. They're working backwards from "We just want anorexic models because we want them," and trotting out any talking points at random to rationalize this.)
But the "wealth" angle is utter rubbish, because it is in fact the aesthetic of full-figured beauty that communicates opulence and richness.
The next excuse (see what I mean about an endless litany?) is that skinny women spend more money on fashion than full-figured women. No wonder this is the case, says Ms. Gold, when designers don't offer clothing in their sizes. They don't buy because there's nothing to buy:
Unbelievable. First, the designers claim fashion doesn't exclude full-figured women intentionally, then, in the very next sentence, they admit, point blank that fashion does exclude women intentionally. One sentence contradicts the one before. It would be comical, if the results weren't so harmful. The fashion apologists have zero credibility, as proven by their own contradictory statements.
Ms. Gold concludes her remarks with an observation that has been made here at the Judgment of Paris many times:
Tragically, this is all too true, and in so many ways.
The fashion industry tries to eradicate women by starving its models, physically erasing their figures, and sometimes even erasing them from existence (by causing their death).
The fashion industry eradicates women in general in the same way, by brainwashing them into worshipping an inhumanly skeletal shape that makes them diminish their own bodies to the point of nothingness, especially when that worship leads to eating disorders and death.
The fashion industry eradicates women by deceiving full-figured goddesses to be ashamed of their substantial selves and hiding away to the point of invisibility -- hiding in body-disguising clothing, and sometimes even hiding from public view.
It's time for women to turn this abuse on its head.
Instead of the fashion industry eradicating women, women should eradicate the fashion industry.
They should eradicate it as it currently exists, and put in its place "an industry that could potentially do so much to empower women and enrich their lives and make them happy," as Ms. Gold says so well in the article.
Re: Size celebration vs. the fashion establishment
I think Tanya Gold was as tough as she could be while still remaining civil. What a dream opportunity she had, though - the chance to actually come face to face with two members of the fashion establishment who are pushing the underweight standard and to torpedo their risible excuses and rationalizations.
It's disgraceful that the press, which claims to have lofty goals of "speaking truth to power," has largely given the fashion industry a pass on the issue of anorexia promotion. Even in this article, it wasn't the writer himself who called out the fashion apologists, but Ms. Gold, who was brought in to voice her position. Kudos to the article's writer for at least setting up this dialogue and for allowing someone to finally have it out with a pair of fashion insiders.
This passage in the article was especially infuriating. The designers state another outright falsehood when they claim that there is an absence of plus-size models:
Okay, what exactly do they mean by "high-end fashion models"? If they're going by Evans's casting policy, well, I've never seen Evans use Kelsey Olson, Katherine Roll, Lindsey Garbelman, etc. There's nothing "older" or "mumsy" about those voluptuous vixens! If these designers want to make pronouncements about the quality of plus-size models, then they need to look a little harder and see beyond the disappointing model choices that companies like Evans make, and recognize that there are some breathtakingly gorgeous full-figured models out there.
If the designers can't find such models with one agency, they can find them with another agency.
But if, when these designers claim that there are no plus-size "high-end fashion models," they strictly mean that there are no fuller-figured models getting high-fashion jobs, well, that's a circular argument. Throughout the article, the designers parrot the dozens of the industry's excuses and rationalizations for excluding plus-size models, then they lament that there are no plus-size models in high fashion! In other words, the upshot of their argument is, "We need to exclude plus-size models because plus-size models are being excluded." Insanely, that's what they're actually saying.
And besides, despite the industry-wide prejudice against curves, this last excuse about the absence of high-fashion plus-size models isn't even true. Sophie Sheppard received a print editorial in Vogue Italia - which is, by definition, high fashion. The aesthetic quality of her look surpasses that of any top-level model, even Doutzen Kroes. And Sophie is even located in the U.K.! So these designers do have a plus-size, high-fashion-quality model available to them in their own country, if they would just make the decision to book such a goddess.
Re: Size celebration vs. the fashion establishment
Shelley's criticisms of Evans are fortunately now moot, because, to its great credit, Evans has significantly improved its casting policies since the time that this article was published. As celebrated on this forum, the Evans winter catalogue features gorgeous plus-size models Kailee O'Sullivan and Justine Legault, both of whom are younger and fuller-figured than many of Evans's past choices. The company has taken a significant turn towards size celebration, for which we applaud it most enthusiastically.
But what a marvellous Guardian article Meredith posted. The way in which Tanya Gold dismantles every single excuse and evasion offered by the thin-supremacist designers is priceless. It is also highly instructive. As with the Guardian symposium on fashion-industry abuses from earlier this year, everyone should take note of the logic by which Ms. Gold systematically demolishes the fashion establishment's equivocations, and keep these rebuttals in mind whenever anyone else tries to defend the promotion of anorexia with such flimsy sophistry.
Everyone should take Ms. Gold's example to heart and never let any anti-plus assumptions pass by without a rejoinder--not the valorization of the word "skinny," nor the use of "health" as a code word for figure diminishment, nor the contention that clothing looks better on skeletal frames, nothing. One should challenge every such claim because they are all false, all founded on nothing but an irrational bias against curves. Nothing else.
As Meredith observes about the designers' litany of justifications,
Ultimately, then, important as winning the war of rhetoric may be, the bottom line is that size celebration will never triumph unless it can persuade the public with images rather than words. Only the increased visibility of plus-size models looking gorgeous and genuinely full-figured will undo pro-anorexic fashion-industry brainwashing, because such thin-supremacist indoctrination was achieved through visual means in the first place.
The rich fleshiness of golden girl Hayley B. (Bella Models, size 16), in a masterpiece of gentle sensuality.
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