Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Fashion Industry & Our Teens!

As I browse the magazines and the internet I get really sick of seeing all the underweight models. It’s annoying to see so many size Os. I mean, what is that?! As a mother of two young girls I see how much these ads influence them. Moms, whether you like to think about it or not, young girls are looking at those pictures and they’re wondering why they don’t look the same. They’re staring at themselves in the mirror and seeing bulges, instead of beauty. It makes me so damn angry!
I do believe that the fashion industry has a responsibility to our teens. I do think they should be held accountable! Did you know that 75% of normal weight women think they’re overweight? Did you know that two models died last year, and in both cases there was mention of their weight as being the direct cause? Since these two models’ death Milan has put guidelines into place regulating underweight models and since then the U.S. as well. But we need to do way more than a few guidelines!

On the same token, I read an article about the lack of black models. In one case, Naomi Campbell explains that at the Paris Haute Couture there was only one black model in all the shows. To me that’s ridiculous. I want to know why? What reason can they possibly have for not mixing it up? Are they so stupid as to think that black women aren’t beautiful? I was surprised to read this myself. I don’t understand the racial issues. I guess I thought we were beyond all that idiocy, but it would seem not. I applaud Naomi for striving to make a difference!

My plea. Bring out normal women for crying out loud! We want to see all races and all sizes on the damn runway! After all, normal women are going to the be the ones buying these overpriced clothes! Besides, I want my daughters to see that not all women have to be white and wear a size 0 in order to be considered beautiful!! If they can’t showcase women in the proper light, then put the freaking camera down!


Regina Carlysle said...

Great post Anne and yes, we all need to look beyond weight in our judgments of beauty. You recall the other night we were talking about America's Next Top Model choosing their first PLUS sized model. She's GORGEOUS. Like you, I have a teen daughter and yes, they pay attention to this stuff. I can't tell you how many young girls who have been in and out of my home over the years become anorexic. Their little elbows poke out, their hair looks bad and all because of this awful illness.

I DO believe the fashion industry seems lately to be more racially diverse and that's a good thing to see. We're seeing more African American and Asian models and that's a good thing. Maybe our world is becoming a little more color blind? I hope so.

Molly Daniels said...

AMEN! I absolutely cracked up when I heard that size 12 was considered 'plus size'. Excuse me? I was a perfect 12 until about ten years ago, and was in my target weight for my height! Since the birth of the toddler, yeah, I've gone up a few sizes, but so what? I can still buy my clothes off the rack, for christ's sake! (Well, pants have to be ordered, as some stores don't carry the 18's!)

My own daughter has inherited her father's body-type, but we've not made an issue of it. She's as confident and active as she was at age 7, and gets annoyed when her slimmer friends gripe about their bodies. She tells them to 'get over it!'

Ana Lee Kennedy said...

Mae West and Marilyn Monroe were size 12 and 14. Their bodies voluptuous, curvy...but sadly today they'd be called overweight.

Dove cleansing products is now on a campaigne to show young girls how to love who they are and the bodies that God gave them. I think that's wonderful.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Well said, Anne. Great post. I get tired of the standards that women have to be tiny to be beautiful. So not true. I hope things start to change. I have two young girls as well.

Diane Craver said...

It's sad that young girls and women feel so much pressure to be underweight because of the thin models and media. My daughter's friend did severe dieting and now has a lot of health problems.

And you're right, we need more diversity in models. We should be beyond just having white models.

Great post, Anne!

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--I sincerely hope our world is becoming more color blind!!

Molly--Exactly what I was ranting about the other day. 12 is NOT a plus size!!! That's just normal! Women weren't meant to be stick figures. We have the joy of creation. We were designed to have rounded hips for child birth and a little extra fat for nursing...

Faith--I agree totally about Dove! I started using their product after I saw that. Finally a company who gets it!

Anne Rainey said...

Kelley--It can be so frustrating when the girls flip through the magazines and see those supposedly perfect images. I try to explain that they've all been airbrushed, but the image is still in their head.

Diane--thanks for coming! I hear you about your daughter's friend. My daughter has several friends who purposely do the 'no eating' thing. It makes me nuts.

Kate Johnson said...

It's a shame Sophie Dahl went skinny--she used to be a really lovely example of a healthy, attractive woman on the runways.

Fashion used to be dominated by gay men who'd fit women's clothes to their young male muses--this is true--and the habit has persisted. It seems obvious signs of femininity are still considered off-putting.

Everyone's always got a beef about weight. On the one hand there's the size 0 debate, on the other government warnings that we're all morbidly obese. It's hard to tell what is normal, and healthy, sometimes.

Just the other day a friend apologised for describing me as 'curvy' because it usually means 'plus-sized' these days. I don't think of myself as plus-sized, but then I'd never fit into a runway sample, either.

As for race...I read an interesting article in the UK Times a few months ago about race and models. Minette Marrin makes some interesting points about how beauty is viewed in India and Japan--with western looks still seen as aspirational. Alek Wek, the Sudanese supermodel, was apparently bullied by lighter-skinned Sudanese because she came from a darker-skinned tribe.

However, Naomi Campbell? She accused British Vogue of racism a while back, saying that they'd never put a black woman on their cover. Somehow forgetting that she'd been on its cover. Twice.

Linda LaRoque said...

Great post, Anne and so true. This has been an issue since Twiggy in the late 60s and caused so much suffering for young girls and women. It would be nice if we could go back to the women of the 50s. Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14 and looked great!

I'm an American Idol fan and have to say I've been pleased to see larger young women being successful on the show. It's good for our youth to see you don't have to be petite and skinny to make it in music. And, it's pleased me to see several of the successful candidates are African American.

I was told long ago that fashion designers wanted their models to be skinny so people would look at the clothes, not the women's bodies. While in college, I took fashion design and models were drawn 8 heads tall rather than the normal 7. And we wonder why those dresses in the pattern book don't look the same on us.

anny cook said...

If they had "Plus" size and super plus size models, then the clothes would have to be flattering--right? Look at the market potential. It's all good and well to tell obese women to lose weight, but don't you think having attractive clothing would make it easier to be "out and about", getting exercise and stuff? Same goes for the chubby girls. If they had attractive clothing that fit them, wouldn't they maybe take part in activities that helped them slim down?

Anne Rainey said...

Cat--LOL, boy did Naomi have egg on her face or what?! And thanks for the link. I'm going to look that article up!

Linda--AMEN to the American Idol comment. I was telling my husband the same thing recently! It's good to see some normal teens on their showing their talents!

Anny--this is one of the issues I've heard my mom ranting about lots of times. She gets so disgusted because clothes for heavy women look horrid. She has to really look far and wide to get something that actually looks stylish.

Molly Daniels said...

My daughter found a swim suit that she feels good in, and is no longer embarassed to go to the pool:) She hasn't worn a bikini since she was 8, and will never wear the Speedo racing suits, but she looks great in it. And not having a moody teen who only wants to wear a T-shirt and shorts to the pool is wonderful!

Regina Carlysle said...

I'm actually WRITING a plus sized heroine in my newest WIP. She's 6 ft. tall and a size 14 (which btw is the AVERAGE size of American Women right now). She's sassy and confident and sexual.

People need to GET IT. Buying power is in the hands of people over 40 and yes, most of us over considered PLUS SIZED. Maybe if they get hit in the pocketbook things will change.

I just blogged at my personal space about this issue since lots of us have been talking about it and I'm currently DOING a plus size woman. Mmm. Linda mentioned Marilyn. There are plenty more plus sized iconic beauties...Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren for example.

Our world must start seeing things through different glasses.

Anne Rainey said...

Molly--This is great to hear! I'm glad you found a suit she's comfortable in.

My youngest isn't heavy, but she's extremely shy and she doesn't like to show herself in public. It's so hard to make her understand that a bathing suit does not mean your naked! LOL She's forever wanting to throw a t-shirt on over the suit. The girl is nearly 5 foot 7 and she's only 12 and she's beautiful. Why she's so insecure I don't know. I just hope by letting her be herself, she'll eventually break out of her shell and feel good about her body.

Molly Daniels said...

Mine just turned 14; she's pushing 5'7" (she's millimeters taller than myself!) and weighs over 200 lbs. It broke my heart when she hit the 100lb mark as a 4th grader...I didn't do that until I was 13!

But, she's my daughter and I love her. I don't make an issue of her weight; I simply encourage her to stay active, and to eat the same low-fat/calorie foods as the rest of us. And I keep the snacks in the house to a minimum.

And with the threat of diabetes in my hubby's family, the dr is keeping a close eye on her as well.

Anne Rainey said...

Molly--this sounds like my niece. She's gorgeous, but she's been overweight her entire life. It's hereditary. Her dad's entire family is well over 300lbs. When my niece got into college, her weight climbed. She's always been mega active and she doesn't eat half of what her sister (skinny as a twig) eats. But when she saw a video of herself it forced her to act. She walks every day and watches her carbs. For the first time she's losing weight and keeping it off. I'm so proud of her because it's been really tough.

Molly Daniels said...

Kudos to your niece:)

I was praying my kids would inherit my metabolism (Having kids slowed it somewhat!), but so far, 2 out of 3 have inherited their father's genes. And both started showing it around ages 6-8. So I've got 2-4 years to see if the baby's going to be 'just like Daddy'.

Ali Rassi said...

Amen to all of it!

What bothers me isn't just the thinness of the models, but the masculinity. Tall, broad-shouldered, flat-fronted, slim-hipped. These are all qualities we associate with the male body. Look of some of these models from behind sometime, and you won't be able to identify their genders.

And then there's this trend to so-called edgy features with the big noses and craggy brows -- more traits we generally associate with men.

Why can't women just be women and be respected for what we are?


Anne Rainey said...

Molly--I can understand how frustrating it must be for you. There's just no figuring genetics.

Theresa--I totally agree. There's been so many times I've thought it was a man's rear, but it turned out to be a woman. When did women stop having hips anyway?! I sooo did NOT get that memo!

Regina Carlysle said...

Snicker! Get the memo. Anne, honey, you crack me up!

This is so true though. I remember back in the 80's women in the work place were all about SUITS. Few dresses. The message seemed to be...look like a MAN and you MIGHT get ahead. BLAH.

Jody W. and Meankitty said...

To be fair, Marilyn's size "12" is more equivalent to a size "8" in today's fashions. If you've ever tried to put on vintage clothing, there's a reason they wore foundation garments under everything!

Which doesn't mean MM wasn't plusher and lusher than today's stick models.

My girls are still little so I'm working hard to combat the whole fashion image thing already. Hope it works.

Jody W.

Kate Johnson said...

The other problem with all these very skinny models is the law of opposites. These girls are held up as models of unhealthiness, but it's just as unhealthy to be too fat. I never see a two-sided debate in the media--it's always anti size 0, or anti obesity. A huge, and growing (no pun intended, really!) proportion of westerners are we really want to drum it into our children that thin is really bad, without reminding them that fat is even worse?

My grandmother had arthritis that was exacerbated by her weight. She ended up unable to use her legs. She'd have told you she was a normal weight. Well, she was; but normal isn't the same as healthy.

I'm a healthy weight for my height, according to any doctors chart you'd care to consult. But I am often accused of being skinny, by people who clearly don't know what the term means. Skinny doesn't just mean 'thinner than you'. I had an anorexic friend as a teenager--she looked like a Belsen victim.

People often accuse thin models of inciting anorexia, but forget that anorexia is a nervous disease. It's not about emulating other people. It's a total distortion of personal image. Sufferers honestly don't see how thin they are. My friend didn't.

Oh, and on the subject of exercise clothes for women...why is it so damn hard to get a decent sportsbra that doesn't cost the earth? More proof the world was designed by men--if they had to run with these things in the way, they'd end up with black eyes!

Diane Craver said...

I have the same problem. 3 of our children (have 6) have weight problems. Our daughter with Down syndrome weighs 196 lbs. and is short. It's a struggle because she has her dad's genes plus she doesn't have a thyroid. (had Graves Disease so had thyroid removed and when pathological test done, showed cancer cells). Another daughter just lost 100 pounds and is 27 - she wants to lose more and she works out daily and watches what she eats.

And just read the latest comment about the big noses. I have a big nose so that is a major problem for me and I still (even at my age) want to have plastic surgery. It's true you associate big noses with men. I'm actually writing a story now about character wanting to have plastic surgery because of her big nose. If I actually make money, I'll get it done.

Sorry to vent. Have a great day, everyone.

Anne Rainey said...

Jody W.--good for you to be thinking ahead!

Cat--teaching the younger generation to eat healthy foods is so hard. fast food is everywhere, even at school. All I can do is monitor what they eat when they're around me and hope they listen to my advice when they aren't.

Diane--Very smart of you to create a character with the same issues as you. I personally haven't been brave enough to do that. I have scars on my arm and leg (skin graphing) and I want to someday create a character like that, partly because I'd like to make the public see that beauty goes deeper than the surface, but I've not had the guts yet. I know how many feelings it'll bring out in me and I'm not sure I'm ready to face them all.

Molly Daniels said...

Book #7 in my series deals with an eating disorder, which was hard to write, because 1) I've never had a problem eating and 2) when I called a therapist for research, it took 15 minutes before she 'got it' that I was not in denial! And then one of my friends yelled at me for taking out the sex scenes. My thinking was, if I'm starving myself to death, would I really want my boyfriend to see me naked?

Originally, the fact she WAS getting naked with her b/f was causing friction, because he liked her the way she was when he met her, not shrinking into oblivion.

Thoughts, anyone? This book is still 5 years from publication, unless I get a contract for the written ones, and they want 3 per year...and then I'd better get cracking on #8!

Unknown said...

I knew the avg American woman is a size 14. The last time I was my 'Ideal' weight I wore a size 18. Yep, that's right 18 and I weighed 165 lbs (you could see my hip bones). I inherited my mother's family's large bone structure. I will never be smaller than that and at nearly 46 my doctors say my ideal weight is about 175. I'll be happy if I can get below 200. I really think they need to put up real idea weights in all of the schools and teach that skinny is not always desireable.

I have a son and I work very hard at making sure he sees anorexic bodies for what they are, which is unhealthy and dangerous.

I love the trend in stories to use women whose mates can't span their waist with his hands. Models need to be real people.

BTW I have posted more than a few models who were over size 14 in my daily pics and have never had anyone say anything negative about them. :0)