Thread: Tone Deaf
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Old 11th August 2011   #1
HSG
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Join Date: July 2005
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Default Tone Deaf


We all know that the professionals who run the plus-size fashion industry are tone deaf to public criticism. (Or at least a great many of them are.)

For as long as the Judgment of Paris has been following curvy fashion, (i.e., from the debut of Mode magazine in 1997 till today,) on every message board, Facebook page, and in every other form of public communication, the full-figured women who comprise the customer base for plus-size fashion have been asking, demanding entreating, and imploring the industry to feature more generously proportioned models.

Those calls have largely been ignored, unheeded, or rejected. If anything, the industry has alienated itself even further from its clientele by steadily shrinking the size of its models, to the point that they look practically indistinguishable from straight-size models--certainly those of the pre-Kate-Moss days.

Instead of seeking the approval of full-figured women (i.e., their own customer base), many plus-fashion professionals abjectly curry favour with the dictators of the "high" fashion industry. An editorial with a faux-plus model in a "mainstream" magazine elicits delirious euphoria, while complaints from customers that the models are too small are dismissed without a word.

In essence, many plus-fashion professionals have sold out full-figured women by self-censoring the actual full-figured body from fashion, all for the approval of the anti-plus powers who run the supposedly "elite" fashion magazines.

Why has this happened?

In this and a subsequent post, we will cover two of the main reasons. This is the first of the two.

* * *

If you were, say, the CEO of a symphony orchestra, and you were assigned to select the orchestra's new musical director, whom would you choose to fill that position, and how would you choose him?

Would you merely select a person with general administrative ability?

Obviously not. You would also need him to prove his affinity for music, because, as the music director of a philharmonic, your hire would be choosing the soloists, setting the music program, conducting the orchestra, and so forth. Your hire would be making all of the decisions that would prompt concert-goers either to love the orchestra or to hate it, to attend concerts or to stay away, to subscribe to the season or to find other ways to pass their time.

You would not choose someone who had generic organizing skills but no taste in music, because the role of a music director requires someone with proficiency in musicianship as well as directorship. Even if a candidate had exemplary administrative skills, if he didn't have musical talent--i.e., if he was tone deaf--then the music would sound bad, regardless of how well the orchestra were organized in terms of scheduling, punctuality, and other purely administrative criteria.

More specifically, since your hire would be the music director of a symphony orchestra (rather than, say, the head of a rock-and-roll band), you would not select someone on the basis of their affinity for any kind of music, but specifically their affinity for classical music.

If a candidate were an accomplished rap performer, this would be irrelevant to you in deciding whether or not to make him your orchestra's music director, because his rap abilities would tell you nothing about whether or not he would be a good music director for a philharmonic--an entity that plays classical music, which is veritably the opposite kind of music from rap.

You wouldn't select your orchestra's director on the basis of his affinity for Eminem. You would select him on the basis of his affinity for Beethoven.

You wouldn't choose someone who hated the classical sound, someone who wanted to eliminate symphonic music and replace it with jazz, or hip-hop, or any other form of degenerate modern noise, because you would know that if you did this, your audience would despise the concerts and stay away in droves.

Yet amazingly, that analogy describes what happens in the plus-size industry all the time.

Why are the professionals who run the plus-size industry tone deaf to public exhortations to feature fuller-figured plus-size models?

Because they are tone deaf to plus-size beauty.

They just as surely tone-deaf to plus-size beauty as a rap artist hired to be the music director of a symphony orchestra would be tone deaf to the beauty of classical music.

The people who are hired to book the models for most plus-size clothing companies do not exhibit a love of the plus-size aesthetic. Rather, they favour the minus-size aesthetic and apply its thin-supremacist strictures to plus-size modelling. They think in terms of the straight-size industry and incongruously impose its rules on plus-size models.

They don't want models to have full facial features and a luscious curve under the chin (plus-size beauty), but harsh facial features and a gaunt, sharp chin-line (straight-size aesthetic).

They don't want models to have fleshy, rounded arms and legs (plus-size beauty), but disgustingly ropy-muscled limbs (straight-size aesthetic).

They don't want plus-size models to have soft, full, feminine physiques (plus-size beauty), but androgynously "toned" bodies (straight-size aesthetic).

They are, one and all, like a rap performer who has been appointed to be the music director of a symphony orchestra, who removes classical music from the programs (even though that is what the concert-goers wsih to hear), and instead imposes performances of dissonant modern rubbish (which is what the rap performer himself wants to hear).

To be sure, there are plenty of people who wish to listen to rap (for whatever reason), but they do not comprise the audience for classical-music concerts. Likewise, there are plenty of women who wish to see anorexic models, but those are not the clientele of the plus-size fashion industry.

Thus, tragically, although plus-fashion professional are tone deaf to plus-size beauty, they are the ones choosing the music for the rest of us. They select the models--their looks and their size. They determine what kinds of music (i.e., what types of models) the rest of us can experience, and what kinds of music (i.e, what types of models) are suppressed.

This situation has a negative effect on the plus-size industry in ways that are both obvious and subtle.

The obvious way in which this negatively impacts the industry is that plus-size models are selected to be thin-looking, to resemble their minus-size counterparts as much as possible, because that is the only kind of music (i.e, the only kind of fashion aesthetic) that the non-plus-loving plus-fashion professionals want to hear (even though it's specifically not what full-figured clientele desire).

The subtler way in which this policy of hiring anti-plus professionals to run full-figured fashion ruins the industry is that it leads to the offensive phenomenon of "padding." The obscenity of padding results from tone-deaf plus-fashion professionals--who cannot comprehend the beauty of the plus-size aesthetic on its own terms--grudgingly conceding to show a pretense of plus-size bodies, but actually still adhering to their own anti-plus aesthetic: still favouring narrow facial features and stick-skinny limbs. Because these professionals don't appreciate plus-size beauty, they think, "Okay, padding these faux-plus models should shut the complainers up," because a vaguely "larger" form is created. But it is actually an affront to the full-figured public, because the distinguishing characteristics of plus-size beauty (full faces, round limbs, curves along the back, etc.) are absent.

It would be like performing Beethoven with a rap beat--which would be just as repellent to lovers of classical music as if Beethoven were swept away altogether and replaced with Eminem tracks. It is a perversion of the sound. The notes are there, but the music is distorted.

Just as a rap artist solely committed to his own sound cannot believe that classical-music aficionados really and truly wish to hear Beethoven qua Beethoven, so plus-fashion professionals who have a straight-size bias cannot accept the truth that full-figured clientele yearn to see the visible appearance of plus-size beauty, with all of the distinguishing traits of soft, untoned fullness.

* * *

Therefore, just as the music director of a symphony orchestra is chosen on the basis of his affinity for classical music as well as on his generic administrative abilities, so should plus-fashion professionals be hired on the basis of their affinity for plus-size beauty as well as on their skills as an agent--or editor--or whatever other role they seek to play.

Their pitch must be tested; their aesthetic sense evaluated. They must demonstrate their love of the timeless feminine ideal.

How would this be done? Through simple tests or queries, such as:

Quote:
1. Do you favour models with harsh jawlines, or models with softer facial features, even with a curve under the chin?
If the former, then they are not qualified. They are tone deaf to plus-size beauty and will give the public the music it hates. They should work in straight-size fashion.

If the latter, then they appreciate the plus-size aesthetic and will create beautiful music that the public will enjoy. They should work in plus-size fashion.


Quote:
2. Do you favour models with hard, androgynously "toned" figures, or soft, natural, untoned, luscious, feminine physiques?
If the former, then they are not qualified. They are tone deaf to plus-size beauty and will give the public the music it hates. They should work in straight-size fashion.

If the latter, then they appreciate the plus-size aesthetic and will create beautiful music that the public will enjoy. They should work in plus-size fashion.


Quote:
3. Do you favour models with grotesquely jutting collarbones, or do you prefer the look of models whose clavicles are submerged in soft fullness, creating a smooth, unbroken line of beautiful flesh at the neck-and-shoulder area?
If the former, then they are not qualified. They are tone deaf to plus-size beauty and will give the public the music it hates. They should work in straight-size fashion.

If the latter, then they appreciate the plus-size aesthetic and will create beautiful music that the public will enjoy. They should work in plus-size fashion.


(The next three questions are closely related.)

Quote:
4. Would you ever tell a model to diminish her beauty by losing weight?

5. Would you ever pressure a model into disfiguring herself with barbaric surgical procedures?

6. Would you ever book a model for a diet ad or some other propaganda promotion designed to make women feel bad about their bodies and to brainwash them into starvation or gym-torture?
If they say "yes" to any one of these questions, then they are not qualified. They are tone deaf to plus-size beauty and will give the public the music it hates. They should work in straight-size fashion.

But if their answer to each of these questions is a resounding "No. Never. Not in a million years," then they appreciate the plus-size aesthetic and will create beautiful music that the public will enjoy. They should work in plus-size fashion.


One could even show candidates a series of images comparing the same model at a size 10 and at a size 18, and ask which image is closer to their preference--which body type plus-size fashion should adopt as its ideal.

If they choose the model at a size 10, then they are not qualified. They are tone deaf to plus-size beauty and will give the public the music it hates. They should work in straight-size fashion.

If they choose the model at a size 18, then they appreciate the plus-size aesthetic and will create beautiful music that the public will enjoy. They should work in plus-size fashion.

* * *

It is not the fault of the current crop of plus-fashion professionals that they are tone deaf to plus-size beauty. Different people are hardwired to like different things, just as some people are hardwired to prefer rap and some people are hardwired to prefer classical music.

But just as someone programming music for an audience of orchestral-music lovers must themselves enjoy classical music (in order to give this audience the sound that it will enjoy), so should plus-fashion professionals be those who have a preference for the plus aesthetic, who appreciate plus-size models precisely for their most visibly full-figured qualities. Then their tastes and those of their clientele will converge.

If the industry were to hire more pro-curvy plus-fashion professionals, then it would be generating the kind of size-positive images that would increase its customer base. Curvy women, upon seeing these celebratory images, would embrace their generously proportioned bodies and spend their money on beautiful clothing, rather than on diet-starvation and gym-torture. Furthermore, these images would show the world just how gorgeous genuinely full-figured goddesses can be.

Therefore to the full-figured-fashion industry, we say: For your own sake, and the sake of the curvy community, enlist more pro-plus professionals. Make the appreciation of timeless beauty a requirement in your hiring. The rewards will benefit everyone, and the music will sound very sweet.

Luscious Katherine Roll (MSA Models, size 18) defining plus-size beauty at Full-Figured Fashion Week 2011, in the Jill Alexander Show:

Click to enlarge

[Image licensed from Mr. Richard Lew (www.richlew.com). No reproduction is permitted without the photographer's express permission.]

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