Friday, 15 September 2006

Viva Madrid!

Hurrah for the Madrid fashion show! They're banning models with a BMI (body-mass index for men or for emotionally healthy women who don't care) of 18 or less from the catwalk. For reference, a BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy. For the serious health/science anoraks, the BMI calculation is as follows: (weight in kg) / (height in m x height in m) [weight in kg divided by your height in metres squared]. For those of you too lazy to convert to metric, do the exact same calculation with your weight in pounds and your height in inches...then multiply by 703.

Enough of the atrocious writing in the first paragraph. Well done, Madrid, for making a statement about how women *shouldn't* look. Now, there has been a LOT of commentary, particularly among many of the illiterates who write into the BBC "Have your say" [Attention, editors: feel FREE to put some coherent posts up. And YES, spelling and paragraph structure matter.] about "naturally thin people" being discriminated against. I happens all the time. On billboards, in shops, in fashion, the male whiplash...naturally thin people have it so hard. My heart breaks. Really.

My absolutely favourite response? It had to be from Cathy Gould of Elite Model Agency in NY:

I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer?"

She elaborated by saying that she was concerned that "gazelle like models" would be discriminated against. Let's start with discrimination against the models. Now, when a 5'6" woman who is 105 lbs is told by her agency to *lose 10 lbs* - who's doing the discriminating? The fashion show? Or is it the fashion agency? You see, Cathy, if I may call you that, you live by the law of supply and demand. If fashion shows *refuse* to use unhealthily skinny models - and trust me, there are very few women in this world with a *NATURAL* BMI of less than 18 - then YOU can't hire them...b/c there will be no demand for them. You will have to hire naturally beautiful women of a healthy size. They're not discriminating against thin models - I've done a BMI for a woman of 5' 6.75", and she only needs to be 114 lbs to have a BMI of 18 - that's still very thin; she's just not a walking skeleton. So for all the whingeing "Have Your Say" types out there - skinny is still in.

Now, the designers. A very good male friend of mine and I have had several chats about this, and he's seriously hacked off about it. He likes women of any shape or size as long as they are natural and healthy, but he resents the fashion world's dictation of what constitutes "beauty". He made the point, and I agree, that the fashion world is made up of disproportionately gay men, and they're dressing what they find attractive - women with no breasts, no hips, no curves - in essence, they're dressing teenage boys. Not to put too fine a point on it, he mentioned that he didn't fancy teenage boys, he fancied *women*. Not allowing them overly skinny models will be doing them a favour - they'll actually have to rise to meet a challenge and dress their market - women of all shapes and sizes.

And as for "gazelle-like"...well, that's a bit unfair to other animals with disproportionately long mosquitos.

I know, I know. It sounds like I'm jealous. Believe it or not, that's not the case. I'm happy with my shape, though I'd like to tone my arms, abs and thighs a bit...and that's down to me, no one else. What I DO resent is being told what I should look like and not being able to find clothes that flatter me. I have a large chest (great gaydar), a waist, and hips all in proportion - an hourglass figure that I wouldn't trade for the world. I walk more than 2 miles into work a day, so I'm pretty physically fit as well.

I know when I've hit my natural upper weight limit - I don't feel physically comfortable anymore, so I cut out the fat, eat a bit less and find my way to a more comfortable weight. I once used SlimFast to cheat, and as planned, the weight came off fairly quickly. But then disaster struck...

One day, I looked down at the pavement...and stopped dead. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. And I couldn't put my finger on it.

And then I had it. I could see my entire foot past my cleavage. That was the dealbreaker, and SlimFast and I got a quickie divorce (no annulment necessary). As I said to my friend Ruth just the other week in the pub, "I LOVE my...erm, cleavage." Now I just want tops that acknowledge that and give me a waist, and bottoms that complete the curves. To quote Jessica Rabbit, "I'm not bad; I'm just drawn that way."

Every woman, whether a BMI of 18 or 38, has the right to feel beautiful in what she wears.

Gracias, Madrid, por tener coraje para decidir este. Espero que Londres, Paris y Nueva York haran como ti. Felicitaciones y salud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you ever get to read any children's books, try reading 'Charm School' by Anne Fine. She manages to debunk the thin is beautiful concept humorously and well... I am not sure how much children reading it will take it in or remember it, but for each child who takes in and acts on that message, Anne Fine should be thanked...