A recent article
in The Independent
newspaper offers a shocking glimpse of the truth behind fashion-industry standards.
In a rare moment of horrifying candor, a designer exposes the actual ideology that underlies the death aesthetic which dominates modern society:
Nathalie Rykiel, sister of Sonia and director of the Sonia Rykiel group declared: "Fashion must be excessive. The woman who parades on the catwalk is the artistic vision of a creator. Let them express themselves freely. They don't exist to speak of reality but to transcend it. Fashion feeds on excess. Women of the street who follow fashion adapt it to their own bodies."
The mind boggles. What kind of "artistic vision" is it to promote death as an ideal?
What if someone's "artistic vision" involves encouraging abuse and bodily harm? Should they be allowed to "express themselves freely" to advocate criminal behaviour?
If a self-styled "artist" poisons the water supply, should this be accepted under the rationale that he is "expressing himself freely"?
Our culture rightly puts restrictions on expression that incites harm to others. And what is the modern starvation standard, but a thoroughgoing advocation of harm, of self-mutilation?
As the growing number of model deaths proves, the emaciated aesthetic kills. Since the fashion industry claims to be producing "aspirational" images (i.e., images that women "aspire" to emulate), they are literally, by their own words, encouraging women to "aspire" to die, to die of self-imposed starvation.
Why should these poisoners of society be allowed to "express themselves freely"? Just because they can? "I will make the world miserable, just because I can"? To allow this to go on forever is madness.
The designer's statement does, however, reveal the glaring weaknesses of the campaigns that have been created to combat the androgynous aesthetic. By advocating a sweeping denunciation of beauty, via homely "reality" campaigns, the pro-plus movement has disastrously conceded the attractive, natural, and wonderful concept of the "ideal" to the promoters of starvation.
But this is not only misguided, it is irresponsible, and self-defeating. It is human nature to desire to "transcend" reality, and to delight in "excess." And, as these very terms indicate, plus-size goddesses more naturally embody these appealing concepts than do skeletal waifs. The notions of transcending norms (of being "more than"), and (obviously) of "excess," naturally lend themselves to voluptuous beauty.
If, instead of creating ugly "reality" campaigns, and creating a false opposition between thin/ideal and plus/real, the pro-curvy movement instead created campaigns that surprassed the aesthetic beauty of emaciated fashion imagery, by featuring plus-size goddesses who are more beautiful, more ideal than runway skeletons, the designer's "ideal" argument would be negated.
The plus-size industry must take back the notion of "ideal," and embrace it, and perfect it.
But Rykiel continues:
"The distance between the girls who exhibit and those who flip through the magazines must be the same as that between the hero of a novel and the reader. Fashion is not responsible for anorexia."
The second point is, of course, a bald-faced lie. Countless medical studies have conclusively demonstrated that fashion imagery is responsible for anorexia. For this designer to simply claim that this is not the case is like someone denying the earth's rotation, or gravity.
Pretending that facts do not exist does not make them disappear; nor does substitituing fiction for fact turn lie into truth.
But the designer's notion of the hero/reader relationship is a powerful argument, and here again, the pro-curvy movement is undermined by its own misguided championing of the plain and the ordinary. If, instead of Ugly Bettys, the opposition to the anorexic standard took the form of Charlotte Coyles, Barbara Brickners, Christina Schmidts--and the many more models like them whom the plus-size fashion industry should have discovered and promoted, by now--then exactly the same dynamic that Rykiel describes would be fully realized by voluptuous vixens.
While models like Charlotte Coyle, or singers like Chloe Agnew, do have natural, womanly figures, their extraordinary, superhuman beauty does make them transcendent ideals, does put them in the position of storybook heroines who are admired, envied, and idolized by the world's readers.
There is a tremendous distance between plus-size goddesses and ordinary women. However, this distance is uplifting to the general public, not demeaning and destructive, as is the distance between androgynous models and regular women.
The plus-size heroine embodies a heighened femininity, compared to the ordinary woman, a positive and healthy ideal, while the skeletal model embodies an eradication of femininity, an erasure of self (with death as a cruel, logical consequence).
In other words, the distance between timeless beauties and ordinary women is an elevating distance, a distance upward, while the distance between androgynous models and ordinary women is a degrading distance, a distance downward.
Riykel's final comment, however, may be the most coldly candid and revealing statement that any designer has yet made on this subject:
Cadaverously thin models reflect "the change in the position of the woman in society," she went on. "The woman of today is liberated, active. This dynamism returns to an idea of speed. We must eliminate everything that gets in the way of reaching this speed."
"Dynamism"? Anorexia victims (and starvation sufferers generally) are anything but dynamic. They become so weak that they can barely move their limbs.* * *
"Speed"? To paraphrase Dickens, "Drive her fast, to her tomb."
"We must eliminate"...what? Whom?
What this designer is really saying is, "We must eliminate femininity itself, to make women what we want them to be." This imperative, intolerant language will be familiar to anyone with even a trace of historical knowledge. It is the language of Marxism (later appropriated by feminism)--the compulsion to social engineering at any and all cost, regardless of human lives, and heedless of human misery.
And what does the ideology behind these words seek to "liberate" women from? From joy, from food, from beauty, from love. By this thinking, women are to be "liberated" from the last vestiges of human heritage, to become . . . asexual, androgynous robots, fit for nothing but functioning as efficient drones in a new proletariat dystopia. Who cares if this runs contrary to human nature? Who cares if this is not what women want, and if they starve, suffer, and even die along the way? Once again, the designers' wills are supposed to be obeyed like some of divine edicts, like the decrees of a tin-pot dictators, never to be questioned, simply followed blindly.
It is amazing that in a time that claims to champion "democracy," that a small group of like-minded individuals has managed to erect a citadel for themselves, in the form of the modern fashion industry, where their whims are law, and from which they can dictate grotesque, unnatural, harmful (and potentially fatal) regulations to the rest of society on how women should look--and even, as this designer's comments reveal, how they should behave and think.
The modern fashion industry is an island of oppression in a sea of freedom. It is long past time that someone put an end to this aesthetic Politburo, and restored the ideal of timeless beauty that gave the Western world a healthy and natural (and "transcendent," and "excessive") standard of womanly appearance throughout history.
Charlotte Coyle, for Torrid: