Tag Archive for models

Oh, just leave the poor girl alone: Crystal Renn faces more criticism for losing weight, raising the question, will we ever accept anyone?

Supermodel Crystal Renn showed up at a charity event in New York this week looking thinner (and blonder! as you can see in the picture above), and certain people have their panties in a bunch.

They’re upset because Renn—who was formerly the most famous plus-size model on the planet and a vocal advocate for body acceptance—appears to have slimmed down.

To understand this whole situation, you have to know Renn’s history . . .

. . . when Renn was twelve years old, a talent scout told her she could be a successful model if she lost about sixty pounds. She was five-foot-nine and weighed around 160 pounds at the time. Three years later, when she finally came to New York to pursue modeling, the fourteen-year-old Renn was a size zero, weighing in at an unhealthy ninety-five pounds (making her BMI a shockingly low 14).

About a year later—after starving herself and exercising up to eight hours a day to try to keep the weight off—Renn’s body revolted and started going back to its natural size. While the pounds were coming back, she made the difficult decision to leave the world of “fashion” modeling for “plus-size” modeling and wrote a book about her experience called Hungry:A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves.

Since then, Renn has slowly been losing weight as her body re-adjusts to eating normally and exercising in healthy rather than obsessive ways. Right now, Renn says, “I’m a 6, 8, sometimes a 10, depending on what designer I’m wearing. And that’s an interesting place to be in fashion, where extremes are the norm.”

I could not agree more.

But people are pissed. They’re pissed because they feel “betrayed” by Renn and claim, “We’re disappointed because she was our star fighting for equality and fashion for us, and now she’s going to their side.”

I certainly don’t think there are “sides” in our quest for body acceptance. Promoting body acceptance does not mean that only curvy bodies are acceptable or that curvy women should be pitted against thin women. It simply means that all body shapes and sizes are acceptable as long as they’re healthy.

If anything, I’m happy about Renn’s size. She’s exactly what we need to see more of on the runway—a regular-sized woman. As I said in my “No show with people who look like this Molly” and “What’s wrong with this picture?” posts, we don’t see many women in the middle when we look at our magazines and our TVs. For the most part, the women we see in the media are either very very thin or very big. It’s as if the woman in the middle doesn’t exist. So, from my point of view, the new—and, yes, thinner—version of Renn helps fill that void.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that Renn is no longer plus-size; what matters is that she’s not underweight and, therefore, not sending the message that the only way to look beautiful is to be unhealthy.

So I applaud Renn for her courage—the courage to walk away from the unhealthy world of fashion models when it was making her sick and the courage to allow her body to find a happy medium despite the pressure she’s under to always stay the same.

Score one for the supermodels:
Cindy Crawford pulls her daughter off the runway

Cindy Crawford and her daughter, Kaia

 

We all know about the fiasco that is stage mothers, as has been documented in gruesome detail on TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras.

Because of this, it was with great relief this week—the same week that the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue came out—that I read about Cindy Crawford deciding her ten-year-old daughter, Kaia, is too young for a modeling career. (Mother and daughter are shown above.)

Apparently, Kaia modeled for Versace new children’s line last year, appearing in this cropped jacket and miniskirt . . .

After the photo was published, it was picked up by media outlets around the world, rightly causing Crawford to freak out. Crawford claims she had no idea that one photo would get so much attention. Not long after that, she put the brakes on her young daughter’s modeling, saying Kaia will have to wait until she’s 17 to model again.

I admire the heck out of Crawford for protecting her daughter from an industry that thrives on taking advantage of young women. After all, how messed up would it be if Crawford let her ten-year-old daughter continue in a business that breeds eating disorders and requires models to bare everything for fashion? As supermodel Paulina Porizkova points out, “What people called sexual harassment, [models] called compliments.” I think we all know that the world of modeling is no place for young women, who need the space to grow up in a healthy, nurturing environment rather than one that treats them like moveable mannequins.

Despite Crawford’s wise move, there are still too many young women in modeling—last week, Marc Jacobs featured both a 14- and 15-year-old at fashion week, blatantly ignoring the Council of American Fashion Designers‘ request that all models be over the age of 16.

But maybe more mothers will follow Crawford’s example and let their daughters enjoy their adolesence without the extreme pressure of the catwalk. God, I sure hope so.

Is it wrong to feature plus-size models?
The debate ranges on


PLUS Model Magazine has caused quite a controversy with their recent “Plus Size Bodies: What Is Wrong with Them Anyway?” article, which questions the size and health of most models and pushes for more plus-size ones. As one of their pictorials points out, “Most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for anorexia.”

PLUS Model also claims “50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller” and argues we need more a greater variety of sizes in retail stores as well.

PLUS Model’s editor-in-chief explains that her magazine is “a response to a fashion and beauty industry which continues to endorse a skinny ideal that is not always healthy and alienates a huge percentage of the market.”

Of course, the response to this story has been mixed.

Some people are thrilled about Plus Model Magazine, insisting it’s about time we show women in magazines who look more like the average American woman (a size twelve or fourteen depending on who you ask).

Salon admits “there can be no denying that the standards for beauty have drastically changed over the past several years. As Americans have been getting bigger, our lingerie models have been going on wackadoo ‘no solids’ diets to attain runway perfection. Thanks to the magic of photo editing technology, already slender models can be whittled down to near nonexistence.”

Still, others argue that showing size-fourteen women is endorsing obesity.

I’ve had the same kinds of comments on I Will Not Diet ever since I created this blog.

But it’s a false dilemma to say or imply that we have to choose between anorexic or obese models.

Most women who wear a size fourteen are not obese. I started wearing a size fourteen when I was in college. That was when I weighed 150 pounds; since I’m five-foot-six, that made my BMI 24, which is well within the normal range.

But I’ve always had big bones (my wrist is 6 ¾ inches), so I wear bigger clothes than most people who are the same weight as me. Some people think that saying you’re “big-boned” is just a euphemism for being overweight or “fat,” but it’s really not.

There are numerous thin people who have big bones (examples include Sandra Bullock, Kate Winslet and Nathan Fillion), and there are plenty of overweight people who have small bones (but I won’t name them here since doing so would only be cruel).

(If you want to find out if you’re big boned or not, here’s a simple way to do it—wrap your right thumb and longest finger around your left wrist. If your thumb and forefinger overlap, you have small bones; if they just touch, you have medium bones; and if they don’t touch at all, you have big bones. You can also use this chart or this calculator to determine if you have big bones. To read more about the big-boned-equals-fat misconception, go here and here and here.)

And big-boned women aren’t the only non-obese women who require a size fourteen. Tall women are another great example. I have several friends in the five-foot-ten to six-foot range and nearly all of them wear a size fourteen even though they are lithe and nowhere near obese.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

The point is that featuring women who are a size fourteen is not about endorsing obesity, its about endorsing variety, which is all but absent from the women we see everyday in our magazines, television shows, and films. As Plus Model Magazine points out, “Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less.”

That’s why, as the magazine asserts, we need to pressure retailers to stop only catering to women who are smaller than the average American women. No one is saying this needs to happen at the cost of smaller women, but rather that we need models, clothes, advertising, and entertainment that reflects what a wonderfully diverse world we really are.

What’s next? Cyborg models?
How H&M is going all Stepford on us.

Think photoshopping models to have thinner legs or arms, smaller waists, bigger breasts, or blemish-free faces is bad?

Well, then you’ll be interested to know that, as reported by Jezebel, H&M has taken photo manipulation a step further. The hipster retail outlet is now using computer-generated models on their website and in their catalogs to get away from that pesky problem of models who look too real.

After the virtual models are created, H&M puts a photo of a real model’s face on top of these faux bods to make them look more life-like. But otherwise the current crop of H&M models is all CGI. (Notice how all the models above have the EXACT same body.)

According to Jezebel, “H&M designs a body that can better display clothes made for humans than humans can, then ‘dresses’ it by drawing on its clothes, and digitally pastes on the heads of real women in post-production.”

I could tell you why this is a problem.

I could tell you that if we think it’s hard to measure up to photoshopped models or models who are underweight, that’s nothing compared to trying to measure up to a model who isn’t even real.

Yes, I could tell you all of that, but I’m betting I don’t have to. Because it’s so damn obvious that even a half-real model could figure it out.

How beauty is manufactured . . .

If you haven’t seen this ninety-second film that demonstrates how a regular looking young woman is transformed into a billboard image, do yourself a favor and watch it now. It will change how you see everything in the world . . . including yourself.

Turnabout is apparently fair play on Project Runway

Sometime it’s easy to assume that men are never held to the same standards as women, but while watching one of my favorite shows, Project Runway, tonight, that idea was proven to not be true.

It was clear on last week’s episode of Runway that a contestant named Oliver has a bias against people who do not have model-like bodies. He spent the entire episode complaining about his client’s “ginormous” boobs and actually said that he hates working with women who have breasts, insisting he prefers models with flat chests.

I was pretty offended by Oliver’s comments last week, but when I watched this week’s episode, I was downright pissed.

This was probably because this time around, Oliver insulted his client—the lead singer of The Sheepdogs—right to his face, actually calling him big and “plus-size” while the poor guy stood inches in front of him.

Just for the record, this guy was not plus-size. (He’s the one crouching down in the right corner of the Rolling Stone cover above.) I’m not even sure that men’s clothes come in plus-size. I think the correct term is “big and tall.” But this guy doesn’t even fit that definition. Yes, he was a bit thick around the middle, but he was far from being out of the normal clothing range for men.

To make matters worse, not only did Oliver insult the guy to his face, but he also could not let the issue go. The entire time he was designing he was bitching about the guy’s size. He said over and over that his client was bigger than the mannequin.

Simply put, he was obsessed with this guy not being as thin as he was used to men being. Heidi had said at the beginning of the episode that “image is everything” before introducing the designers to The Sheepdogs, and during the height of Oliver’s meltdown, he whispered those words to himself—image is everything—a misguided mantra that would, in the end, lead to the downfall of this story’s protagonist, an ending worthy of Shakespeare.

It was painfully clear to me then that it’s not just that Oliver doesn’t like fat people; it’s that he’s one of those people who worships at the alter of skinny. That’s why he hates breasts—and hips and stomachs. He believes that body fat shouldn’t exist. Even though we need it to survive.

It probably doesn’t help that Oliver (pictured above) is about as wide as an apostrophe mark, but that doesn’t mean I find it any less disturbing to hear a man who wants to be a fashion designer—in other words, a person who dresses woman for a living—be so unabashedly fattist.

British rocker Beth Ditto has said that models and celebrities in our society are too thin because many fashion designers are gay men who want the women they dress to look as androgynous as possible—meaning not at all curvy. Though a small part of me wonders sometimes if there is any truth to Ditto’s claim, a much bigger part of me thinks her attitude is both homophobic and unfair.

But after watching Oliver kvetch about breasts and tummys all season on Runway, it’s hard not to notice that he fits Ditto’s description to a T. And that frightens me more than I can say. We can’t have fashion designers who believe all women should look like young boys any more than we can have bosses who think their female employees are always inferior to their male counterparts—both attitudes are sexist and destructive to the fabric of our society.

Ultimately, anyone who can’t find beauty in others—no matter what their size or gender—probably shouldn’t be a fashion designer. And maybe that’s why the judges thankfully sent Oliver home tonight.

Our mannequins have slimmed down too.
Coincidence? I think not.

We always talk about how much bigger Americans are now than we used to be . . . not only are we heavier, but we’re also taller than people were even fifty or one hundred years ago.

But there is one group of Americans that has gotten much much smaller . . . the women we see in our movies and television shows and magazines.

We know this from looking at pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Mae West and comparing them to everyone today from Zoe Saldana and Angelina Jolie to Giuliana Rancic and Calista Flockhart.

But it still surprised me when my friend Tasha sent me the photos she took below at an antiques store, and I saw that even old mannequins were bigger back then than they are now.

These images really speak for themselves . . .

If this mannequin’s body was held up as the norm today, I would be perfectly average.

And these pictures make me ask this question . . . if we keep getting bigger and our models and mannequins keep getting smaller, doesn’t that mean there’s some kind of connection?

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