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Old 25th July 2010   #1
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Join Date: January 2010
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Default UK govt. wants curvier models (article)

Its ambitions seem too limited, in a number of ways, but it does seem that the new British government intends to at least attempt to pressure the fashion industry into using fuller-figured models, and to start issuing warning labels about airbrushing.

The pertinent points:

Fashion industry faces airbrushing clampdown

• Government to push for health warning on airbrushed images
• Equalities minister leads call for curvier women in photoshoots

Alexandra Topping, Sunday 25 July 2010

The coalition government is to put the fashion industry under pressure to stop promoting unrealistic body images and clamp down on airbrushed photographs in magazines and adverts.

Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, who has long campaigned against size-zero photoshoots, will convene a series of discussions this autumn with the fashion industry, including magazine editors and advertising executives, to discuss how to promote body confidence among young people.

The first will focus on airbrushing, which Featherstone argues is contributing to "the dreadful pressure that young people, girls and women come under to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes".

She will push for a Kitemark or health warning on airbrushed photographs, warning viewers that they are not real. "I am very keen that children and young women should be informed about airbrushing, so they don't fall victim to looking at an image and thinking that anyone can have a 12in waist. It is so not possible," she told the Sunday Times.

The minister wants to see more women of different shapes and sizes used in magazine photoshoots, including curvaceous role models such as Christina Hendricks, who plays vivacious office manager Joan Holloway in Mad Men, the US TV series about the 1960s advertising industry.

"Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous. We need more of those role models," she said. Instead, young girls and women were continually confronted with false images of incredibly thin women, which could create lifelong psychological damage. It was an issue that should worry "any of us who have children".

"All women have felt that pressure of having to conform to an unrealistic stereotype, which plagues them their whole life. It is not just the immediate harm; it is something that lasts a lifetime. Young girls are under intense pressure the whole time," she said, adding: "I was a young girl many moons ago."

She is trying to convince magazine editors and advertisers to stop using digitally altered photographs and underweight models. "Advertisers and magazine editors have a right to publish what they choose, but women and girls also have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies. At the moment, they are being denied that," she said.

Magazines that do retouch pictures run the risk of breaking their own code of conduct, which states they should not publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, she added. "Magazines regularly mislead their readers by publishing distorted images that have been secretly airbrushed and altered."

She also called the actions of the advertising industry into question. "Likewise, the advertising standards code says no advert should place children at risk of mental, physical or moral harm, but adverts do contain airbrushed images of unattainable beauty in magazines aimed at young teenagers."

While I applaud Christina Hendricks, I am concerned that she is what's being touted as a preferable alternative to anorexic models. Obviously she is a step up from size 0, but I would hate to see Hendricks' relatively thin size suddenly become the new "glass ceiling" of sizes. This is especially a problem a Britain, where the fashion industry is particularly plagued by the faux-plus blight, and has been for over a decade. Only when the British media (and indeed the worldwide media) start featuring true plus-size models, U.S. size 16 and up, with any real advancement be made.

The emphasis on warning labels is helpful too, in its own way, although the introduction of larger bodies is far more important. A cut-down on airbrushing might help end the "plus=older" myth that the media often fosters. When older models cannot invisibly be airbrushed, it might prompt the industry to begin featuring younger plus-size models, and if those younger models are genuinely full-figured, then that will be truly beneficial to improving the body image of young women.
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Old 26th July 2010   #2
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Default Re: UK govt. wants curvier models (article)

This government proposal has been widely acclaimed and has garnered a host of favourable reactions.

Here's one of the more significant statements, one that builds on the parliamentary proposal. A member of the Welsh national assembly noted concern over celebrities who lose weight, and explained how damaging this can be to women's self-esteem:

Here's the excerpt:

FEMALE celebrities such as Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins should be more responsible role models to young women when it comes to talking about their weight, a Plaid Cymru AM said yesterday

Ms Jenkins, AM for South Wales West, said while it was good to select “normal” women to be role models it was important to realise that celebrities would forever be idolised.

“Like it or not, people like Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins will always be role models and while it’s good to choose a more normal size woman they still have a responsibility,” she said.

“I used to think Charlotte Church was a role model when she was saying she was happy being curvy but then she went and lost all that weight. Now I think perhaps her image is more damaging and has done more harm than good.

That, I think, is a crucial point. When an actress or a model sets herself up to be a role model for positive body image, and then diminishes herself, not only does she undo all of the good that she did before, but her net effect is actually negative - it's actually worse than if she had never gained fame at all, because the message to women invariably becomes, "You do have to starve after all - because look, even your formerly curvy role models have sold out and diminished themselves, so you must do so too."

That is yet another reason why plus-size models should never, ever lose weight. It's the worst possible message to send, and shame on any who do. The industry should only embrace those models who stay curvy, or, better yet, become fuller-figured over time, and therefore promote positive body image.

The following article is also interesting, if only because it correctly identifies the ultimate source of the problem:

An excerpt:

IN A rare example of a political statement that actually makes sense, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has declared that the physical role model for girls and young women should be a curvy, hourglass shape.

Instead of trying to look like the Twiglet-armed Keira Knightley or sparrow-framed Cheryl Cole, she wants modern girls to emulate actress Christina Hendricks, whose ample curves and swivel hips have made her the office siren in Mad Men, the American drama series set in a Sixties advertising agency.

On behalf of all us sturdy girls, let me just say “Hurrah!” It’s been a long time coming. Those of us who were born in the Forties or Fifties were lucky enough to grow up during a time when shapely women were adored and admired.

Perhaps as a reaction to post-war austerity, voluptuous Rubenesque women were the stars and pin-ups. Marilyn Monroe – famously a size 16 – was considered the sexiest woman alive; Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and Diana Dors would never have been called slender and yet were considered the height of female beauty.

Swayed by the designs and desires of clothing designers who want to force women into androgynous clothing and eliminate curvy bosoms and bottoms we reached the nadir when the aim of celebrities everywhere was to starve down to a size zero. Add to that the airbrushing of photos to pare down even childsize models and you have a recipe for dissatisfaction in most women and despair, leading to eating disorders in many others.

The ultimate source for all of this thin-supremacist curve-o-phobia is the designers, of course, who mandate emaciated androgyny due to the fact that they are not attracted to women, and therefore do not find womanly curves appealing, instead seeking to impose a toxic, unnatural aesthetic borne of their own warped perceptions.
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Old 10th December 2010   #3
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Default Re: UK govt. wants curvier models (article)

It is both interesting and fruitful to compare this British initiative to the Israeli bill that we just discussed a day ago. Each approach has its strengths, and the ideal effort would undoubtedly comprise a combination of the two.

Both projects recognize the fashion world as a criminally irresponsible pro-anorexia industry and note the toxic effects wrought by the universal use of harrowingly emaciated models.

Where the Israeli proposal has the clear advantage, though, is in the fact that its stipulations are mandatory, not voluntary. In the British case, Ms. Featherstone is merely organizing "discussions," and "will push" for her recommendations, and "wants to see" them implemented, and is "trying to convince" the industry to behave responsibly. Past experience justifies considerable skepticism about her chances for success, however noble her intentions may be. Hannah's comment identifies why this is the case:

Originally Posted by Hannah
The ultimate source for all of this thin-supremacist curve-o-phobia is the designers, of course, who mandate emaciated androgyny due to the fact that they are not attracted to women, and therefore do not find womanly curves appealing, instead seeking to impose a toxic, unnatural aesthetic borne of their own warped perceptions.

Such individuals will never voluntarily change their harmful aesthetic. It is hardwired in their brains. They will never bend, never reform, never rehabilitate. They will continue to impose their alien standards until they are forced to stop, compelled to put the good of all women before their own egos.

The Israeli approach, therefore, is infinitely superior in that it is a law, a rule, a clear-cut, black-and-white decree, and any transgression by the fashion world is punishable with a stiff fine. Only such ironclad legal regulation has any hope of reforming the industry.

On the other hand, the British initiative benefits from something that the Israeli bill lacks, which is an affirmative component. Ms. Featherstone's goal is to "promote body confidence," as the article says, and not merely to curb the industry's current, heinous practices.

Only a two-pronged approach, a cease-and-desist order to the fashion industry to immediately stop promoting anorexia coupled with an incontestable decree to use fuller-figured models, will actually increase women's comfort with their generous appetites and foster their confidence in their naturally full figures.

The only shortcoming of Ms. Featherstone's call for the use of curvier models is her choice of example. While Christina Hendricks undoubtedly has her appeal, and is certainly preferable to size-0 corpse-actresses, she has a regrettably caved-in waist, thin facial features, and is widely believed to be padded for her Mad Men appearances as Joan Holloway.

Rather, the British initiative should promote the use of indisputably and authentically full-figured models, especially given Ms. Featherstone's emphasis on combating artificial depictions of womanhood, such as airbrushing.

Instead of faux-plus models, or actresses who are only curvy by comparison with the cadaverous waifs who populate Hollywood, this British proposal (and every nation's similar effort to reform the fashion world) should insist that the industry employ gorgeous and genuinely full-figured models, a U.S. size 16 or better. Only the widespread dissemination of such models' images will truly subvert the current androgynous standard of appearance and restore, in its place, the timeless ideal of full-figured feminine beauty.

New, never-before-released image from Kelsey Olson's test shoot with Elke van der Welde:

With luscious measurements 40d-39-44, the stunning Miss Olson (Dorothy Combs, Miami; Heffner, Seattle) is a legitimately full-figured goddess, and is also the most beautiful model currently active in the fashion industry.

Her languishing expression, round facial features, and sumptuously untoned curves define her as the epitome of allure, of desirability, of soft femininity.

- Click to view full size

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