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-   -   The end of catwalk androgyny? (article) (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=778)

MelanieW 7th December 2006 01:28

The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
I remain skeptical, of course, but a new article from the Wall Street Journal (and republished at the following link) suggests that fashion is finally making some tiny progress towards altering its inhuman - and lethal - starvation "standards".

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06340/744051-314.stm

What is important here is that the article identifies specific editors, councils, ministers, etc., who are at least considering implementing changes. This is particularly significant. As long as the discussion was about a vague faceless entity called "the fashion industry", no one had to take any ownership of the probelm. This article finally identifies some of the individuals and groups who do have power in (and over) the fashion industry. Hopefully, they will implement the changes that are being discussed.

If they dont, there will be nothing for it, and external regulation will be required.

It is specifically encouraging to hear these individuals admitting to "the role fashion plays in the spread of anorexia." I dont see how anyone - including plussize models - can deny that the fashion industry does play such a role, any more.

Here is the majority of the text:

- - - - - - - - - -
Milan considers setting weight guide for models

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


After 15 years of waif-like models, the world's fashion scene is tiptoeing toward a healthier look.

A global debate over whether models in fashion shows and glossy magazines are dangerously thin has been simmering over much of the past year -- in part because of the recent death of a Brazilian model from anorexia.

Tuesday, a movement to get emaciated models off the catwalk got a major boost when the Italian government and Italy's fashion-trade organization -- which organizes the Milan twice-yearly fashion shows -- announced they were drafting a charter aimed at doing away with images of dangerously thin women.

No concrete moves have been taken yet, and the charter would be unlikely to have legal value. Yet Milan is one of the world's most important fashion cities -- and home to important global brands such as Gucci, Versace and Prada -- so the move could put unparalleled pressure on fashion houses and other fashion venues, such as Paris, to alter the look of their gaunt models.

"Milan is one of the key players in fashion so it's a big deal," says David Milosevich, the head of David Milosevich Casting, which selects models for magazine photo shoots and runway shows.

It is still unclear how the restrictions would work, however, and how much support they would have among the fashion industry. The challenge will be getting the different players from the fashion industry on board.

Thin models are also a subject of debate for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which helps organize New York's fashion week. Executive Director Steven Kolb says the CFDA is still considering the issue and "will have its own response at some point. If change comes, it's a collective response." The CFDA does not currently regulate how designers choose their models.

Fashion houses have so far been quiet on the subject. A spokesman for Prada declined to comment until more information about the manifesto was available. IT Holding, which owns brands such as Gianfranco Ferre and controls the licenses for Just Cavalli and Galliano, said it was considering backing the manifesto. "There is increasing pressure on the design houses," the spokesman said.

In the hey-day of the flashy, supermodel era of the late 1980s and 1990s -- when brands like Armani and Versace made waves through Madison Avenue and Hollywood alike -- supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer were slim but curvy. But suddenly in the early 1990s, the thinner look prevailed.

Supermodel Kate Moss helped kick off the trend with a series of famous Calvin Klein ads in the early 1990s. Ms. Moss's androgynous look captured the grunge scene of the early 1990s, a reversal from the go-go days of the 1980s.

Quickly after, Italian fashion houses such as Prada and Gucci became the most aggressive in pushing the ultra-thin image in fashion capitals such as New York, Paris and Milan.

A backlash began to spread to the industry this past fall. Organizers of Madrid fashion week, a local event that doesn't attract much attention abroad, made headlines by barring models under a certain weight, after doctors' and women's groups protested against the emaciated look. Then, last month, the debate flared again after Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died of complications from anorexia.

Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.S. has already picked up on the changing thinking. Kate White, editor-in-chief, recently created a policy against running illustrations of women who are too thin. "We were looking at some illustrations for the magazine and I thought, 'We just have to put more meat on their bones,'" said Ms. White, who rejected the drawings and ordered up new ones.

"In photographs, we make a real effort to use models who are not extraordinarily thin, but it's tricky because fashion models tend to be thin," she said.

Starting with the February issue, Cosmopolitan illustrations of women now have to feature women who look like they wear a size 6 or 8, she adds.

Similarly, designer Alice Roi designs her samples in sizes 4 and 6 and is eager to have the issue of weight addressed more openly..."It's not a hidden tragedy in the fashion world anymore," Ms. Roi says.

In Italy, the move against too-thin models is being spearheaded by Giovanna Melandri, Italy's minister for youth policies, and Mario Boselli, the head of the National Chamber for Italian Fashion, an industry group. After the two met for an hour in Rome Tuesday, they decided to draft a plan to combat what they say is the role fashion plays in the spread of anorexia.

They plan to issue a "national manifesto" by January, in time to be applied to the women's ready-to-wear fashion shows in February, Mr. Boselli said. The manifesto will also address fashion beyond the catwalk, including advertising...

Mr. Boselli says he also wants to stop super-thin models from being used in advertising, and has met with an Italian publishers association. The Italian manifesto will target other fashion industry players in addition to the brands, such as modeling agencies and photographers. Mr. Boselli says he's also spoken to the head of the French fashion association about the topic.

Though fashion houses can't be legally forced to follow the charter, Mr. Boselli says that punishments could be meted out to those who refuse to adhere to its guidelines. Among the sanctions could be being banned from the official fashion show calendar of the Milan catwalks -- a move that could complicate schedules around the already busy week.

If it gathers momentum, it could change the ways fashion houses design the clothes and looks that define their image world-wide.

Some experts say it would actually bring looks more in line with what women associate with real, glamorous lifestyles...

There is no standard size yet for being healthy. Madrid's guideline, based on a calculation using weight and height, was that models had to have a body mass index of 18 or higher, meaning that a 5'11" model would have to weigh in at 130 pounds to just barely make the cut. The World Health Organization considers anyone with a body mass index below 18.5 to be underweight. Milan has not yet chosen its criteria...

Kaitlynn 7th December 2006 08:18

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Interesting article. It's slightly promising, but it seems that the reporters who penned it are pretty skeptical themselves, and cautious about announcing any real progress until it happens.

As they note, "No concrete moves have been taken yet."

Still, there's no question where public sympathies lie- and even the sympathies of at least a few reporters. Just as Melanie's article noted signs of hope in the fashion industry, here's an article that talks about possibly positive developments in that other notorious promoter of the androgynous, skeletal look- planet Hollywood.

It's from an Irish newspaper (which I find fitting, as so many Irish girls are born to be well-fed beauties), and I like the fact that the reporter makes her disdain for the emaciated standard evident. People are slowly becoming more confident in their ability to express a open preference for plus-size beauty.

The link is here-

http://www.unison.ie/entertainment/...=312&si=1736599

but the site might require registration, so here's the bulk of the article:

.......................
So long to the Size Zero Sisters

Wednesday December 6th 2006


Hip, hip, hooray. In fact, make that hip, thigh, hooray. Skeletal celebrities are finally cashing in their chips (not edible chips) as the evil cult of Size Zero worship falls apart faster than Lindsay Lohan's career.

For far too long, gangs of skinny self-obsessed starvelings have paraded their prepubescent bodies around the celebrity circuit, stick-like arms weighed down by outsized bags, and giant shades perched atop their lollipop heads...

But there are signs that the Size Zero Sisterhood have consumed their (calorie-free) 15 minutes of fame. Most tellingly, the guru of the gaunt girl-stars, stylist Rachel Zoe (pronounced to rhyme with 'so'), has fallen out of favour with one of her high-profile clients.

For over two years, Zoe has draped the super-skinny frames of teen icons Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton. This trio, plus various other underfed starlets, were dubbed 'Zoebots' and sported vintage dresses or loose tops over skin-tight jeans, teamed with a headscarf, ridiculously large sunglasses and vast handbags.

It was a hugely influential fashion look, but...some of Zoe's clients have dropped alarmingly in dress size, most noticeably Nicole Richie and Keira Knightley.

But the devoted friendship between Zoe and Richie came to an abrupt end last week when the stylist was sacked by Richie. Shortly afterwards, a snide item popped up on Richie's MySpace page: "What 35-year-old raisin-face whispers her order of three pieces [sic] of asparagus for dinner at Chateau [Marmont] every night, and hides her deathly disorder by pointing the finger at me, and used her last paycheck I wrote to her, to pay for a publisist [sic] instead of a nutritionist? HINT: Her nickname is Lettucecup". Lindsay Lohan then posted a smiley face and added, "hmmmm. no comment".

Despite Rachel Zoe issuing a statement aimed at defusing a potential public catfight - "a mutual decision to sever our working relationship, nothing but love for Nicole " etc, etc - the celebrity press went to town on the trouble in Twiglet Paradise.

For it's just another small indication that the tide may be turning on this tiresome and troubling trend.

The death of Brazilian fashion model, 21-year-old Ana Carolina Reston last month from an infection caused by anorexia - she weighed only 88 pounds when she died - received enormous attention in the media. In an interview, her mother, Miriam Reston spoke about how she had pleaded with her daughter to eat more and see a doctor: "She would reply, 'Mummy, don't mess me around'."

In September, Spain caused a furore in the fashion world when Madrid barred models below a certain weight from its Fashion Week. Models with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 18 were banned. Although the more cynical fashionistas dismissed the Spanish move as a publicity-seeking stunt, it gave many others pause for thought when it emerged that Ana Carolina Reston's BMI was just 13.5 - the World Health Organisation consider a BMI of 15 as an indicator of starvation.

And the bad news continues to mount for the super-skinny set. A team of scientists based in a London university released a study this week which found that over-thin women who get pregnant are at a far greater risk of miscarriage.

The boffins surveyed 603 women aged 18 to 55 who has miscarried within three months of getting pregnant, and one of the more surprising findings was that very underweight women had a 72% higher risk of miscarrying in the first trimester.

Apart from the serious health issues, the aesthetic superiority of stick-thin women was given a good kicking last week. The most obsessive size zero celebrity in Britain, Victoria Beckham, unkindly dubbed Skeletor, topped a Worst Celebrity Legspoll.

Over 3,000 people were polled by an agency who are searching for the sexiest celebrity legs for a new Pretty Polly campaign. It's one chart that the shameless self-publicist will not be happy to find herself in the Number One spot. According to the poll, the Best Celebrity Legs belong to the shapely Kelly Brooks.

Posh also recently got a fierce lash from Girl's Aloud singer Sarah Harding: "She's always in the press and wears child's sizes even though she's a grown woman. It's sick. What's sexy about being straight up and down and skinny? David can't like it. The female body should be an hour-glass figure, not anorexic-looking."

It'll still take some more than a spot of celebrity sniping for the dodgy concept of 'Thinspiration' to crawl away and die. But...there are hopeful signs that the publicity-seeking antics of the Size Zero Sisterhood will soon come to naught...

M. Lopez 7th December 2006 20:42

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MelanieW
Cosmopolitan magazine in the U.S. has already picked up on the changing thinking. Kate White, editor-in-chief, recently created a policy against running illustrations of women who are too thin. "We were looking at some illustrations for the magazine and I thought, 'We just have to put more meat on their bones,'" said Ms. White, who rejected the drawings and ordered up new ones.

"In photographs, we make a real effort to use models who are not extraordinarily thin, but it's tricky because fashion models tend to be thin," she said.

That is precisely the problem - that fashion models DO "tend to be thin"!! There is no reason why they should be. If Cosmo's editor really wanted to improve the situation, the most important thing she could possibly do is to use fashion model who don't "tend to be thin" - i.e., plus-size models.

It's nice that she's changing her magazine's illustrations, but what she should do is "put more meat on the bones" of her bony models, not just on her magazine's drawings.

There's another new article about these slightly-positive developments here:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L0742708.htm

Here are a few quotes from it. Note the last one, especially:
"After Spain barred models below a certain weight from a Madrid fashion show in September, industry leaders in Argentina and now Brazil have joined a campaign to ensure models are over 16 years old and are not excessively thin.

"...after Boselli, whose lobby represents big names like Armani, Versace and Prada, met Italian Youth Minister Giovanna Melandri this week, he agreed to work with the ministry on a self regulatory code of good practice.

" 'Italy has an important strategic role in world fashion so we have to send a strong signal,' said Flaminia Spadone, an aide to the minister.

"...models who came under 18.5 on the index -- the World Health Organisation's definition of underweight -- should be banned from working for the sake of their own health.

" 'In the Third World, if someone has an index of less than 18.5, they send in humanitarian aide,' she said."

The latter point is especially important. The article that Kaitlynn posted revealed that "Ana Carolina Reston's BMI was just 13.5 - the World Health Organisation consider a BMI of 15 as an indicator of starvation."

It's not just pro-curvy individuals who are pointing out that today's fashion models are malnourished and starving. It's a clinical fact.

The fashion industry may still be in denial about this, but the fact is that the starvation of their models, and of the women who emulate them, is a humanitarian crisis, by any definition. I hope they finally do something about it - before more women die as a consequence of their callous and self-centred adherence to an inhuman aesthetic.

Chad 8th December 2006 16:56

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaitlynn
In September, Spain caused a furore in the fashion world when Madrid barred models below a certain weight from its Fashion Week. Models with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 18 were banned...it gave many others pause for thought when it emerged that Ana Carolina Reston's BMI was just 13.5 - the World Health Organisation consider a BMI of 15 as an indicator of starvation.

This is truly a shocking statistic, especially because, from her pictures, this model who died had a figure that was almost exactly identical to 99% of the models in the business. That means that MANY of the industry's models are also in this life-threatening category - life-threatening for themselves, and for the women who emulate them.

What is especially troubling is who the media puts on TV, whenever they treat the issue of banning underweight models. It's always either:

(a) two-bit authors out to shell style books. Very "informed" individuals. (Not.)

(b) fashion magazine editors. Gee, I wonder what THEY will say? That's like getting a tobacco company CEO to talk "objectively" about the dangers of smoking. And of course, they self-servingly try to deflect blame from themselves by saying, "This is a complex issue and emaciated models aren't the ONLY cause of anorexia." Yes, but they are ONE of the causes!!! That's reason enough to protect the public from their harmful influence.

That's like saying smoking isn't the ONLY cause of lung cancer. Yes, but it's ONE of the causes! That's bad enough to warrant regulation.

E.coli doesn't cause ALL bacteria-related deaths, but it causes some. That makes it a health hazard from which the public MUST be protected.

One medical study after another has conclusively linked images of underweight models to promoting eating disorders, and these people are allowed to appear on TV and pretend that these fact don't exist. Why doesn't some responsible reporter stick these reports and studies right in these editors' faces, and ask, "What do you have to say for yourself now?" Here is PROOF that the images you create, the models you use, ARE part of the problem."

The media has been going after other industries for years (60 Minutes does nothing but this sort of thing). Why does the fashion industry get a pass?

How many more people have to DIE before they are held accountable?

HSG 10th December 2006 23:52

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MelanieW
Thin models are also a subject of debate for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which helps organize New York's fashion week. Executive Director Steven Kolb says the CFDA is still considering the issue and "will have its own response at some point. If change comes, it's a collective response."

The CFDA director's statement is shockingly candid. It reveals that the fashion industry is not just a "Wild West," where every designer does whatever he or she likes. Rather, there is an overseeing body--and one that obviously holds enormous power.

The director's assertion that "If change comes, it's a collective response," is tellingly imperative. He seems remarkably confident in his ability to speak for the industry. He would never have made such an unequivocal pronouncement of what the fashion world would collectively do, if he didn't think that his council had precisely this much power over the industry as a whole.

His statement proves, unequivocally, that the fashion industry could change the size of its models, if it wanted to, and that this council is the regulating body that could make such a change happen.

It simply chooses not to do so.

So, for all of the eternal back-and-forth discussion about who decides models' sizes, and who could change this standard--with editors pointing at the designers, designers pointing at agencies, agencies blaming the movie industry, and so forth--now we have an answer: this entity, the CFDA, is the last word on the subject. They have the power to effect change unilaterally, if they choose to do so.

Furthermore, the CFDA director's statement that his organization is "still considering the issue" is quite transparent. Are they "still considering" the tragedy? Or rather, are they "still considering" whether they can get away with it--get away with letting designers select skeletal, deathly-ill models? Are they "still considering" the problem, or "still considering" how much "heat" they can stand, still watching whether the public furore will die down--which would allow them to go on ignoring the crisis? (At least until another model dies.)

It's like a tobacco executive "still considering the issue" of whether they need to alert the public to the dangers of their product. They are not "still considering" the ethics of their industry's practices, but rather, whether their industry will soon face outside regulation, if they don't do something themselves right now.

When models are dying, when women are starving, the time for "consideration" is over. A government crackdown, of the European sort, seems more necessary than ever--just as governments have always had to crack down on entities that poison the culture, and show a wilful disregard for the harm that their degenerate practices inflict.

The CFDA Web site includes the following text, as a statement of the Council's raison d'etre:

What's this? To "define a code of ethical practices"? What kind of "ethics" would not include the prevention of death, as an absolute necessity?

If this Council wished to do one single thing to fulfil the mission that it has set out for itself, of "defining a code of ethical practices" for the fashion industry, it would be to do away with a standard of appearance that causes widespread misery and bodily harm, both to the models who torture themselves to meet it, and to the women whose minds are poisoned by it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MelanieW
If it gathers momentum, it could change the ways fashion houses design the clothes and looks that define their image world-wide.

Some experts say it would actually bring looks more in line with what women associate with real, glamorous lifestyles...

This is the other particularly significant point in the article. Fashion itself would become much more beautiful via a substantial increase in models' sizes. Designers would inevitably turn away from androgynous styles constrained by vertical lines and flat surfaces, in favour of more rounded, natural shapes that better suit the soft, swelling contours of the well-fed female figure.

Even from a strictly aesthetic standpoint, fashion's androgynous standard makes absolutely no sense. If designers want to promote "glamorous" clothing, it is the height of absurdity to promote such clothing on walking corpses. What is "glamorous" about malnutrition?

It is self-evident that "glamorous" fashions, befitting a "glamorous" lifestyle, should be displayed on models with "glamorous" figures--and there is nothing glamorous about a shrivelled, 90lb frame. Rather, the lavish opulence of the voluptuous female figure is aesthetically harmonious with the lavish opulence of expensive couture. The decadent, sumptuous fullness of timeless beauty accords with the pampered, adorably spoiled, self-indulgent nature of the target market for such attire.

Displaying top-drawer fashions on malnourished frames is like composing a grand concerto for a symphony orchestra, but having it performed by a two-bit wind band.

Plus-size models embody precisely the type of luxurious beauty that is best suited for showcasing creme-de-la-creme fashion.

Casey McCabe (Wilhelmina), looking sinfully, irresistibly indolent:


vargas 14th December 2006 01:16

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad
One medical study after another has conclusively linked images of underweight models to promoting eating disorders, and these people are allowed to appear on TV and pretend that these fact don't exist. Why doesn't some responsible reporter stick these reports and studies right in these editors' faces, and ask, "What do you have to say for yourself now?" Here is PROOF that the images you create, the models you use, ARE part of the problem."

I think a major obstacle are anorexics themselves. Many who suffer from the illness presently, or have in the past, refuse to acknowledge the very powerful and pervasive influence that the media has had on their disease, specifically images of modern androgyny. Many will attribute their problem to everything under the sun BUT the most obvious thing - the fashion/beauty industry. If more women who have suffered with anorexia stood up and held the industry accountable and protested this poisonous influence, the media could no longer get away with ignoring the issue.

Emily 18th December 2006 03:28

Re: The end of catwalk androgyny? (article)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vargas
I think a major obstacle are anorexics themselves. Many who suffer from the illness presently, or have in the past, refuse to acknowledge the very powerful and pervasive influence that the media has had on their disease, specifically images of modern androgyny. Many will attribute their problem to everything under the sun BUT the most obvious thing - the fashion/beauty industry.

I think that's exactly right, and it's so glaringly true, that I am amazed no one acknowledges this. After all, the whole problem of anorexia is the fact that its victims have a severely distorted view of the femal body. Mis-perceiving the natural size of women is the crux of their illness. By definition, the one thing that they cannot assess accturately is emaciated media imagery, because they don't recognize starvation when they see it.

Of course they can't acknowledge the problem of anorexic media imagery, being anorexic themselves. If they can't see their own starvation, how can they see it in others?


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