By Sonya Rehman
For decades, fashion has always seemed to saunter, hand in hand with skeletal, size-zero frames.
But is the honeymoon over? In an ideal and ‘normal’ world, you bet. But high-street fashion, it seems, is hell-bent on promoting twig-like-and-trendy body images.
However, over the past few years there have been a couple of glimpses of light, at the end of the – rather narrow – tunnel of fashion.
One such was in 2006 when Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano used heavy-set, plus-sized models for their shows held in Paris. One in particular was Crystal Renn – a well-known, voluptuous size16 model (featured in Vogue), who graced the catwalk for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s line.
And then there’s Elena Miro too – a designer dedicated to churning out classy, fashionable garb for larger-proportioned women.
Having tapped into the profitable market of catering towards natural and full body types, Miro’s prêt-a-porter collection is a frequent show at Fashion Week in Milan each year. Sold like hotcakes, Miro’s outfits are sought, bought and sold remarkably well.
Remember Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ in 2005? Featuring ‘ordinary’, voluptuous women in their under-garments, in print ads and billboards abroad, the campaign proved to be a commendable, cunningly sensational, yet highly controversial effort on the part of Dove.
Yet, in light of the above, and the Italian government’s aim to discourage anorexia among models and Spain’s strict rules regarding low BMI’s (body mass indexes), thin, still seems to be very much ‘in’.
Should poster girl of the 60s, Twiggy be blamed then? With her short bob, large, doe eyes and hermaphrodite physique, fashion faced a massive ‘let’s-get-fashionably-gaunt’ revolution – that was to last for the decades to come.
Ironic then, that Twiggy after four years of being in the ‘bizz’, retired relatively early (in comparison to her peers), stating: “You can’t be a clothes hanger for your entire life!”
Why thank you so very much Twigster, while you scampered off into the sunset of broadcast television and three healthy meals, women the world over contemplated: ‘to eat, or not to eat?’
However, given the immense pressure that the world of fashion entails, models – both at home and abroad – have to constantly stay on their toes (or whatever’s left of them), to ensure slim waists, non-existent hips, and toothpick legs.
Take Luisel Ramos’ case for instance – a South American model who succumbed to the pressures of her job, after being told to lose additional weight.
So how did she die? Ramos suffered a heartattack at the ripe age of twenty-two (!) after living on a suicidal diet of lettuce leaves and diet coke! Unbelievable.
And after Ramos, Ana Carolina Reston – a jaw-droppingly gorgeous Brazilian model – followed pursuit, passing away in the same year, due to a restricted diet of tomatoes and apples. Reston was reportedly 5 feet 8 inches, and her weight was a staggering 88 pounds when she died. By jove. That truly is frightening.
Just last month, Newsweek’s February 18th issue carried an article (‘Rise of the real people’) which earnestly stated: “Fashion-industry folks say the trend of using real people to sell clothes attests to a fatigue with skinny, expressionless models in ads and on runways.”
Who was the author kidding? Fashion is not quite ready to throw its arms around the concept of normalcy regarding weight for crying out loud.
Sprinkled with examples of casting agencies and television shows which propagated ‘real models’, the article came across as half-baked and ill-researched – yet, its overly optimistic tone, I admit, was admirable.
During an election special on a local channel, talk-show host Nadia Khan, asked her model/actress guest, Iman Ali, if she was currently modeling.
Replying in the negative, Iman went on to answer: “For that I’d have to lose weight which I’m not ready to do right now”.
Looking as healthy and gloriously glowing as ever, one couldn’t help but wonder which area Iman needed to lose weight from!
Do fashion photographers and designers really deem it that necessary for models to be underweight? Do clothes look better with a model’s bones jutting out? What gives? Why do models have to give the impression of walking, talking hangers?
And concerning Pakistan, taking into account Eastern curves, why aren’t well-known local designers getting proactive and using full-figured women in their fashion shows? If Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano could do it, why can’t we?
This skinny epidemic – fueled constantly by airbrushed models featured in top-notch fashion glossies (both international and Pakistani) has warped – and continues to warp -generations upon generations of young girls and boys.
Yes, boys too. Why? Noticed the 21st century male model? On the average, his weight will range anywhere between 145 and 165 pounds at a height of 5 feet 11 inches and above.
Why so underweight and low you’d inquire? Simply because the whole ‘genderless look’ has been in for a while now.
Flip through an international fashion publication and notice how effeminate the male models appear – with narrow waists, slim arms and soft features; one can hardly distinguish between the male and female models!
The day Fashion Weeks the world over start using ‘real people’ to strut confidently down catwalks – on a consistent, regular basis – will be a much-needed 360 degree spin for fashion. But as declared earlier, the notion is a utopian one at best, but that’s not to state that it cannot happen…the question that seems to loom large right now is, ‘when’?
If you want to live longer and happier, simply don’t buy into the subliminal, skinny-is-hot mumbo jumbo that fashion endorses.
Be a cut above the rest, by eating healthy and blaming it on Twiggy instead!