(Rosie Tapner and Jourdan Dunn PC: The Daily Mail.)
There has been a lot of contention in the media this week as comments were thrown out about the way certain models looked on the runway. Before I take this article any further I need to start by saying a healthy body is the best body. I am in no way advocating or glamorizing any eating disorders in this article and the opinions I express are just that; opinions.
Apart from writing for The Boyfriend Shirt I work for a well known Australian clothing label which means a large portion of my job is helping people with styling and putting together outfits to make them feel great. Our sizing runs from a 4 to a 16 however on occasion a woman will start browsing who I KNOW is not going to fit the brand. Imagine for a second that I walked up to this woman and said “I’m sorry but you are way too fat for this brand and you are going to look awful in everything.”
How horrific would that be? How would that poor woman feel? Mortified? Ashamed? Embarrassed?
It seems it is absolutely unacceptable to call a person fat but talking about how thin someone is is deemed as a perverse compliment as societal pressures push us all to be doctors and lawyers with the body of a Victoria’s Secret model and the kitchen prowess of Nigella. No wonder that poor woman turned to cocaine, imagine the stress she was under!
So when the papers splash pictures of model Cassie Van Den Dungen all over their covers and Alex Perry has to publicly apologise for using a model that the industry deems ‘too thin’ she is meant to sit there quietly and take it even though all she did was walk down the runway to do her job? Can you imagine the backlash if fashion commentators decided to bitch about how fat one of the models was? The way the lighting really played up her cellulite or how much her thighs wobbled when she walked? It would be chaos.
Personally, my weight fluctuates. I have been so thin that I was nicknamed ‘Ana’ (how sick is that) or, ahem, comfortably plump post a food rampage while away on a month long trip to Paris. The thing that really struck me is that when I was clearly too big for my clothes everyone was really kind and supportive and didn’t make me feel horrible about putting on a bit of weight. (For the record I didn’t feel horrible and plan on returning in the same state post Paris fashion week this October.)
It was only when I went on a medically imposed diet to cure my chronic fatigue that I started feeling bullied by people close to me. Suddenly I was fair game as they vented their body insecurities on me just because I was thinner than them. I wasn’t dieting to get thin I was dieting to get healthy and regain the energy to actually live my life but it was like my weight loss gave people around me permission to bully me based solely on the numbers the scales were showing.
Don’t get me wrong, eating disorders are horrible and very, very serious but as anyone who has ever been in the throes of one will tell you its not about the food but instead about the control. Publicising your horror is not going to “shed light” on the situation or “cause the fashion world to re-evaluate.” Publicly humiliating someone who you feel is too thin is just cowardly and Mia Freedman commenting that MBFW14 looked like ‘The Hunger Games’ is bullying. Don’t hide behind your humour in order to get away with bitchy and mean spirited comments aimed at girls who are just trying to do their job.
At the end of the day a healthy body is key. In some ways chronic fatigue is the best thing that ever happened to me as I have let go of so much (self imposed) pressure of how I should look and instead focus on being grateful that my body works. Sometimes I am bigger, sometimes I am smaller but I get up every morning and reflect on how lucky I am to be given this body that allows me to live a full and healthy life. If the girls on the runway are eating well and exercising to maintain their health then who are we to judge what size they should be? At least this time it looks like no permanent harm was done: amongst all the controversy Cassie Van Den Dugen is handling the haters by posting pictures on Instagram of her eating hot chips. Love it.