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Old 23rd February 2011   #1
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Default London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Former Marie Jones editor Liz Jones has written a devastating slam of the straight-size designers' continuing promotion of anorexia at London Fashion Week.

It's a must read, especially as contrasted with the luscious, robust, full-figured beauty of FWPS and the Lane Bryant runway show in Las Vegas.

While those wonderful, life-affirming events were going on, this is what the so-called "mainstream" fashion industry was pushing:

The images physically disgust me. There isn't even a trace of beauty there, just hideous, cadaverous ugliness. The only reaction I have is complete repulsion.

Here are some of the most significant passages from Mrs. Jones' article.

Skeletal models and super-sized hypocrisy: As fashion designers insist they've turned their backs on anorexic chic, do they think we're blind?

By Liz Jones
23rd February 2011

At a London Fashion Week where one designer, Maria Grachvogel, was forced to take in the seams on her samples because she couldn’t find any models who were a size ten, a ghost appeared on the catwalk.

It was as though I were looking in a mirror, at me aged 18, weighing 5st, about to be drip-fed on a ward in St Barts hospital.

I sat up straight on my narrow gilt chair. I looked around me to see if anyone else had seen what I had seen. But no, it was all sycophantic smiles, or that other thing fashion folk do, just the tops of expensively highlighted heads, tap, tapping away on their iPads.

I looked over at front row guest Samantha Cameron, but even she had failed to go pale. It is the drip, drip, drip effect, you see, when so many girls swim like matchsticks before your eyes, a death mask on the face of a teen becomes unremarkable.

Jones was herself anorexic, so she speaks with authority on this issue. The last point, in bold, is crucial -- the fashion industry comes to accept this parade of repulsive emaciation because it mutually brainwashes itself into seeing these diseased frames as "normal." It would be like working 24/7 in a tuberculosis ward: over time, anyone healthy would look abnormal, while the diseased, dying patients would look standard.

Jones goes on:

I was at the collection for the autumn/winter shown by Erdem, the hot Brit designer of the moment. And this was the "hottest" model of the season: Chloe Memisevic. She was back on the catwalk yesterday for Mary Katrantzou looking horribly emaciated...On a Body Mass Index scale, she would hover somewhere below number 15...A healthy BMI falls somewhere [above] 18.5. This means she is at risk of brittle bone disease later in life. And heart failure. And pneumonia. And an early, horrible death...

Disenchanted by what I had seen at Erdem, I turned up at the Mark Fast show on Monday night, in the hope of a breath of normality. After all, it was this knitwear designer who had caused such a storm a few seasons ago by using bigger girls on his catwalk, a decision that caused his stylist, a woman who is probably so starved herself she has started to consume her own organs, to storm out.

But while there were bigger girls on his runway, notably Gwyneth Harrison and Laura Catterall, who are both size 14, there were two of the thinnest girls I saw all week: Hannah Hardy, whose hip bones could grate parmesan; and Martyna Budna, who helpfully appeared in just a bra top, so we could break the boredom by counting her ribs.

This is why the idea of mixing plus-size models (or rather, in this cause, faux-plus models) with the shrivelled corpses that constitute today's straight-size models is a terrible idea. It all but gives sanction for the designers to keep putting girls on the runway who are so severely anorexic-looking that they are putting their own lives in danger, and worse, triggering eating disorders among young women in general.

The only solution is an all-out ban on underweight models, accompanied by a mandated use of plus-size models.

On the Friday before London Fashion Week kicked off, I had gone along to a packed debate on this very topic held at the National Portrait Gallery in London...The most sense all evening was talked by Erin O’Connor, who described going backstage at a show, trying to get into a pair of trousers and finding she couldn’t get them on. This woman has the dimensions of a reed.

Make the trousers bigger!’ she yelled. ‘Make them bigger.’ We all cheered.

Kiki Kendrick, who came up with an award-winning self-esteem campaign for The Body Shop in 1997, featuring a size 16 cartoon doll called Ruby, explained that a woman is like an onion. If she has layers of love, family and self-esteem around her, the negative images in the media will not be able to penetrate. But if she does not have those protective layers, and so many of us don’t, then she is very vulnerable indeed to images telling her to buy stuff and to change herself.

Now, this is the passage that is truly shocking:

It was Lorraine Candy who made me see red. Asked about the airbrushing used by her magazine [Elle], she said: "My readers want amazing and beautiful."

Amazing? Beautiful? Any person who thinks that the skull-faced cadavers who walked in London Fashon Week are "beautiful" has such a terminally warped and diseased notion of what is ideal that they cannot be permitted to have so much influence on culture and on women. No sane person could find such nauseating emaciation appealing.

Now, this is where the article becomes especially pertinent to this forum:

After the debate, we were all invited to view an exhibition of photographs of women supposedly of all ages and shapes and sizes, taken by celebrity fashion photographer Rankin. It purported to be a celebration of ordinary women’s bodies, but it was nothing of the sort.

First, these supposedly realistic images were airbrushed to look lovely, but, second, what I cannot countenance is that the models chosen to depict plus size were a size 12! This is not plus size...!

Bravo. It's one thing for those of us who follow the plus-size industry to state, time and again, that a size 12 is NOT plus-size, but for someone with a background in the straight-size industry to confirm and support this point is extremely encouraging.

Plus-size must be, at the very least, a U.S. size 16 or bigger, or, as Liz Jones indicates, it does nothing to counter fashion-industry thin-centric propaganda.

Just before London Fashion Week, I asked Carole White, the boss of Premier Model Management and one of the most influential agents in the world, why she thinks nothing has changed and why models on the catwalk are still so tiny.

I’ve campaigned on this issue since 1999, when I became editor of Marie Claire, and I told White my belief is this arrogant industry has merely been paying lip service...

White again passed the buck, saying she thinks it is down to the demands of the industry in New York, Paris and Milan. There, everyone has ignored the age limit of 16, using underage and underweight girls on shoots and in shows, champagne on tap backstage.

Liz Jones mentions that all the so-called "curvier" models are actually very thin, and then she makes the most important and insightful point in the article:

These girls have been used as a smokescreen, so that the gay men who run the industry can continue to peddle the idea that women should look like adolescent boys (it was no coincidence that nerdy, weedy boys walked the runway in womenswear this season). This is their dream, not ours.

Bravo to Jones for having the courage to state this so directly and unambiguously. It's true. The sociopaths who run the fashion industry don't care about women's health. They are simply obsessed with their own perverted vision and inflict their toxic, grotesque aesthetic on society. And not until they are forced, by law, to reform their practices, will this industry ever be anything other than a blight on society, one which ruins the lives of half of the population.

Jones ends her article on a tragic note:

The week...was a sad one indeed. Sad for all those women out there who are easy prey to these overpaid idiots. Who will go on a diet..Who will worry about fitting into that bikini come summer. Who will look at these impossible, clearly harmful images and find they just don’t measure up, and never will.

I wish Erdem had come along on that Friday night and met one of the women in the audience, Nita Dickson. She is the mother of Sophie, who died in her 40s from anorexia-related illness. I had become friends with Sophie — who in the end weighed 3st — while working with her on a documentary. I remember sitting talking to her, in her South London terrace house, and gasping when two of her teeth clattered to the floor.

This is what these beautiful fashion shows don’t show you, the ugly side of being thin. Nita had come along to hear the debate, hopeful that a decade after her daughter’s death, something had changed. I watched her leave the building that night, shoulders stooped, impossibly sad and alone.

How many more mothers have to go through what Nita has gone through before someone, somewhere, says: ‘Enough!’

The situation is intolerable. The cancer on society that is the straight-size industry must be made to change, and only government intervention can make it happen.
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Old 24th February 2011   #2
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Default Re: London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Originally Posted by Meredith
The cancer on society that is the straight-size industry must be made to change, and only government intervention can make it happen.

Thank you for posting such an illuminating article, Meredith. Your "cancer" metaphor is more accurate than one might initially think. If I may, I will share something truly disturbing that happened as I was reading this article at school.

I was scrolling down the page, and I could feel myself growing utterly disgusted at the sight of those emaciated, skeletal models. The poor women looked like they were literally starving, as if they could barely support themselves. As I observed, with increasing horror, the two side-by-side images of the models with the stick-like legs, I heard a voice from behind me.

"Her legs are perfect."

I immediately wheeled around, my jaw dropping. One of my fellow students was looking at the images with adoration. I was honestly frightened, appalled, concerned for her well-being.

"Perfect? They're anorexic! How could you think such a thing?" I barely managed to stop myself from shouting, trying to rein in my slowly bubbling size-activist rage. Her proclamation that a positively cadaverous and sickly victim of the fashion industry such as that model could ever look anything close to "perfect" truly startled me.

"I just think her legs look perfect," my friend replied. I glanced back at the image of the model with her deformed-looking, skeletal legs, and closed the page.

"I'm just going to close this now. Clearly, it's warping you." The conversation ended there -- I was honestly too distressed and incensed to rationally discuss the issue further. To think that those around me could honestly consider such unhealthy images to be "perfect" truly unsettled me.

This little incident sadly reinforced what the article, and the Judgment of Paris, have been saying all along regarding the use of such models. They warp the minds of young girls, twisting their vision of what is normal and what is "perfect" into a toxic and disgusting underweight ideal.

My friend is a rather normal girl. Prone to self-disparagement, but otherwise quite ordinary. To think that even the most seemingly healthy and cheerful teens are brainwashed into idolising anorexia is horrifying.

London Fashion Week is promoting a deadly, hideous aesthetic. Its poisonous standards of starvation must stop masquerading as beauty; its unnatural images of corpse-like women must stop disguising themselves as normality. These false standards of "perfection" need to be revealed for what they are, before the minds and hearts of women are destroyed entirely by their corrupting influence.

And the true perfection of the full-figured feminine ideal must be restored.
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Old 28th February 2011   #3
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Default Re: London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Liz Jones's article is indeed a must-read. It takes the scales from the eyes of anyone who has been duped into believing that any meaningful change is happening in fashion.

I was struck by many things in the article, right from the opening:

Originally Posted by Meredith
At a London Fashion Week where one designer, Maria Grachvogel, was forced to take in the seams on her samples because she couldn’t find any models who were a size ten...

I knew I'd heard of that specific situation. It's described in detail in this Guardian article:

This is a textbook example of the problem that many have identified -- that designers and agencies keep blaming one another, passing the buck back and forth, so that no one is left accountable.

Here's the situation that the article describes:

One designer at London fashion week has been forced to shrink her samples to a size eight because larger models are in such short supply. Who is to blame for this change in the industry?

Jess Cartner-Morley
Friday 18 February 2011

This season, designer Maria Grachvogel has given in to fashion industry reality, and had the catwalk samples made in a size eight rather than the size 10 she has commissioned up until now – because it has become too difficult to find experienced catwalk models large enough to wear a size 10 dress on the catwalk.

"I have succumbed," was how she put it to me. "What can I do? I'd much rather make a size 10, but the clothes have to fit the models who are going to wear them." For the past three years, Grachvogel has been restricted to hiring the biggest models on agency books – "send me your curviest girls" has been her mantra – in order to fill out her size 10 samples. This season, she admitted defeat.

"Having real women try on the clothes and see how they work . . . is so helpful to me, as a designer."

There is no one in the fashion industry who would deny that models, and the sample sizes they wear on the catwalk, have got significantly slimmer in the past five years. Last week, supermodel Erin O'Connor admitted: "I'm a fashion model and I don't fit into the sample sizes. I haven't for some time. At one show I couldn't get into the trousers. The designer said, 'What happened to you?' I replied, 'Why don't you make your trousers bigger?"

The chicken-or-egg question of who is ultimately to blame is a sticky one. Grachvogel's experience is that model agencies no longer have size 10 models on their books, but others blame designers. Two years ago British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman sent a strongly worded letter to many of the world's top fashion houses, asking them to stop producing "minuscule" press samples, which force her magazine to hire the skinniest of models in order to wear them.

The size zero debate is emotively linked to several high-profile deaths among anorexic models.

The problem, as Grachvogel points out, is that "this is an unachievable body shape for most women. It is absurd and frustrating that women are so obsessed with trying to conform to a body shape which is simply impossible for most of us."

"What I love doing as a designer is making clothes that make real women, women of different heights and shapes and sizes, look beautiful and feel amazing. It's frustrating that I can't put that on the catwalk."

But is the designer really the blameless victim here? Hardly. Rather, it seems as if she's just saying the right things to cover for the fact that she's diminishing the size of her already too-skinny samples, and thus contributing to the problem as much as anyone else is.

1. If she supposedly can't find models in a U.K. size 10 (which I don't believe for a minute), then why is she going smaller? Why not go larger? Why not hire plus-size models? That would prove that she really is concerned about body image and isn't just trying to pass the buck and avoid bad press. There is no reason for her to default to even-more-anorexic-looking models unless she's just caving in and conforming to what other designers are doing.

2. If (and this is a big "if") we accept her contention that the designers have to conform their samples to the size of the models that are available, then the solution is obvious: the agencies should all be compelled, by government regulation, to only represent fuller-figured models. By the premise of the article, that would force designers to finally make their samples in a healthy size.

And certainly, as we recently learned, agencies are resorting to underhanded and unethical behind-the-scenes ploys to keep down the sizes of the models.

But on the other hand, if a designer insists on a bigger model, then that's who gets booked. When Mark Fast wanted faux-plus models, he got them. And when a designer wants androgynous corpses, he or she gets those.

So the designers are still the ones who are most criminally at fault for the promotion of anorexia. They create the samples; they book the models. But the agencies clearly are severely culpable as well.

The whole fashion industry is complicit, and by blaming each other, they deflect blame from themselves and avoid taking responsibility. That's why the entire industry needs to be forced to reform from above, by government edict, because it clearly will never reform itself.
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Old 14th October 2011   #4
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Default Re: London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Unfortunately, as the following article indicates, the fall edition of London Fashion Week, which took place a few weeks ago, was just as toxic in its promotion of anorexia as the spring event in February.

Says the article:

Super skinny is still ‘in’

Despite their insistence that they no longer advocate ‘anorexic chic,’ the runways of this year’s LFW were largely occupied by shockingly thin models. With xylophone ribs and matchstick legs, it is clear that the industry isn’t listening to calls from various groups for healthier, fuller figured models.

Undoubtedly true, but why should this surprise anyone? The premise that the fashion industry will somehow magically reform itself, stop triggering eating disorders, and begin showcasing larger bodies is a hopeless delusion.

Until this pernicious industry is forced to change, it will continue fostering anorexia in perpetuity. And such compulsion for this industry to change can only come from government regulation, given that the fashion industry is a top-to-bottom monopoly where the editors, photographers, clients, all collude in the promotion of anorexia, as the industry self-selects its own members to exclusively comprise the 1% of society which has a fetish for emaciation.

With this monopoly in place, women have nowhere else to go for fashion. It's Vogue or Elle and their sort, or nothing. And while it's nice to dream about everyone suddenly "protesting with their wallets," that will never happen. Women need clothing, and they want fashion advice. Short of becoming Amish and sewing one's own wardrobe (a lovely dream, but not realistic), the fashion industry has society over a barrel.

Only government regulation can end the industry's abuses, once and for all, and the sooner it happens, the more lives will be saved.
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Old 31st December 2011   #5
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Default Re: London Fashion Week promoting anorexia (article)

Liz Jones makes many important points in the article that Meredith linked, particularly her observation that prolonged, constant exposure to the sight of emaciated cadavers on the runways and in the magazines has inured fashion-industry insiders to just how sickly these models appear. Having forgotten what a healthy, natural body looks like, these cultural arbiters have been brainwashed into seeing abnormality as normal, and vice versa, and then proceed to inflict this toxic, anorexic standard on the right of society. When viewing a malnourished appearance, they see "health," and then proceed to infect the rest of society with this aesthetic sickness, as surely as if they were transmitting a plague bacillus.

The problem derives from a severely distorted view of beauty:

Originally Posted by Meredith
Any person who thinks that the skull-faced cadavers who walked in London Fashion Week are "beautiful" has such a terminally warped and diseased notion of what is ideal that they cannot be permitted to have so much influence on culture and on women.
Just so. Everyone is free to admire whatever aesthetic they like, but they cannot be allowed to inflict an aesthetic on society which results in eating-disorder fatalities.

Ultimately, an ever-greater schism is opening up between the fashion establishment and the general public. There was a time, decades ago, when fashion-world standards bore at least a passing resemblance to humanity. No longer. Now, the outré clique that runs the fashion world considers itself unassailable, and is moving ever further into the promotion of anorexia, androgyny (witness the use of models in drag posing as women on the fashion catwalks), drug use, and degeneracy of every kind.

Let us hope that the public will exert pressure on politicians to finally begin regulating this toxic industry. In the meantime, the plus-size industry alone can undo the damage that the size-0 establishment wreaks on society. Full-figured fashion can exemplify alternative values to the harmful mores that the minus-size industry pushes. It can celebrate femininity instead of androgyny, gentleness instead of aggression, cultivation instead of depravity, pleasure instead of misery. It can create an image of womanhood which is ladylike instead of crass and vulgar.

Not only is this a culturally beneficial approach, but it is even a sound policy from a practical point of view. After all, the minus-size establishment has cornered the market on outrage and shock value and depravity. The plus-size industry can appeal to everyone--the majority of women, in fact--whom they have left behind, who are repulsed by their corruption and the ugliness that has become de rigueur in the minus-size milieu. Even long-time adherents of fashion such as Liz Jones, repulsed by what she sees the "mainstream" industry devolving into, might soon feel more at home in the healthier world of the plus-size industry than in the noxious environment of size-0 sickness.

All of this can happen, provided that the industry takes Ms. Jones's words to heart and represents itself with true plus-size models, size 16 or bigger, rather than faux-plus frauds. Full-figured fashion can be a beautiful alternative to a rotten "mainstream," and in no time at all, one will see many women turning to this industry not just for a more size-positive image of womanhood, but a more wholesome one as well.

Fair angel Kelsey Olson (size16), in a new image for Sydney's Closet, looking as soft and untoned and gentle as a dream of ideal beauty.

- Click to view product page

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