Body image gone bad

Written By: - Date published: 5:51 pm, June 10th, 2008 - 7 comments
Categories: culture, International - Tags:

We’re used to the importance of presentation in the world of politics, but no-one does it quite so blatently as the fashion world. We’ve seen it in the waif-like size of girl/women models, an acknowledged under-representation of ethnic diversity on the cat walk and now male models are also under pressure to down-size.

In the Melbourne Age, one male model, David, described the reality:

In Milan, I trimmed down to about 76kg so I would fit the clothes. I am 6’2″, so for me I would say that’s underweight,” he says. “Paris tends to be even skinnier than Milan. You’ve got designers like Dior who always go for anaemic, 17-year-old bodies…

While critical eyes have been fixed on skeletal female models – with jutting ribs and collar bones, pencil-thin pegs and wan complexions – their male counterparts have been quietly wasting away.”

The New York TImes observed:

Far from inspiring a spate of industry breast-beating, as occurred after the international news media got hold of the deaths of two young female models who died from eating disorders, the trend favoring very skinny male models has been accepted as a matter or course.

In terms of image, the current preference is for beauty that is not fully evolved. ‘People are afraid to look over 21 or make any statement of what it means to be adult,’ Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, a fashion branding and production company said.

Body image is a topic that is easy to dismiss as unimportant. But it has real consequences for those who emulate  the extreme – and their families. It can also be seen as part of the world of “image” as described in the post Brand Key: Our cultural lack of substance made real.

7 comments on “Body image gone bad”

  1. This is like non-smokers trying to tell two-pack-a-day fools what’s good for them.

    Not much we can do about people determined to be stupid beyond all reckoning. At least the emaciated fashionistas aren’t shooting anyone. Their calorie-free memes only infect the minds of the gullible and the willing and that portion of the mentally ill who need to slowly commit suicide by not eating.

    There are so many more important things going on in the world than people obsessed with what they and others are wearing and who are too silly to eat properly.

  2. You do realise how pervasive body image messages in advertising are don’t you?

    Anorexically thin models on cat walks and in advertising have a highly polarising effect. Those who can (in cases this extreme its far more than a self control issue, its got a lot to do with the bodies physiology) attain them do so at a massive cost to thier health now, and in the future. While those who can’t don’t even bother trying, and are much much more likely to become overweight or obese.

  3. Vanilla Eis 3

    I’m 189cm (6’2″), and had a bout of glandular fever last year that dropped me to 65kg. It was frightening. I’m now around 74kg or so, but still painfully thin. I hope I can push back up to the 80 or so I was at earlier, but it might pay to find out how much these guys earn first.

    But I still don’t understand the persistence of using underweight models by designers. It doesn’t make any sense. The girls look awful (No hips/legs/chest… which are the attractive bits, lets face it) and I’m not exactly clamouring to look at myself in the mirror. My girlfriend wishes I had a bit more on the ribs as well. But yeah – what is with the thin obsession? It’s neither attractive nor healthy, but apparently it’s easier to make clothes look good on a skeleton?

  4. Joker 4

    I think the horse racing industry is at fault as well.

    I always wanted to be a Jockey but at 6ft 5′ and 105 kg I was told that I didnt fit their “idea” of the right body shape.

    This has left me with a terrible self image problem and I cry myself to sleep most nights wishing that I was an immaciated midget.

  5. AndrewE 5

    6’2″ at 76kg = a BMI of approx 21.5. That’s well in the normal range of 18.9 to 24.9.

    Having said that BMI is not necessarily worth anything especially if you have above average muscle.

  6. But I still don’t understand the persistence of using underweight models by designers. It doesn’t make any sense. The girls look awful

    Two parts to this. On the cat walk its not necessarily about looking good, a large part of it is having a strong stylised image, and shockingly thin is part of that. Designers also believe that waif thin models show the clothing better. The second part is advertising, generally a slightly different set of models, still extremely thin, but some times not quite as thin as the cat walk ones. Still way to thin to be presenting as a realistic body shape, no way near attainable for a large number of consumers.

    (No hips/legs/chest which are the attractive bits, lets face it)

    Underwear models are generally curved still if that’s any consolation

  7. QoT 7

    Life is really so much easier when you can just say, “But they’re just stupid! Clearly this absolves us of any responsibility to examine inground behaviours or societal mores/pressure!”

    On the other hand, Steve, some of care about other people.

    Captcha: “sitting exhibit”. Oh how I laugh!

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