Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Will Paris Do?

I don't know if you have been following the sudden (why did it take so long) realization on the part of Madrid fashionistas that runway models were quite simply too thin? Madrid officials quite simply banned models who were too thin. What was the response?

But Cathy Gould, of New York's Elite modeling agency, said the fashion industry was being used as a scapegoat for illnesses like anorexia and bulimia.

"I think its outrageous, 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," said Gould, Elite's North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally "gazelle-like" models.

Milan fashion week included a plus-size show and required models to carry health certificates. This comes after a 22 Uruguayan model died in August after having eaten only leafy vegetables for months.

What will Paris do? Will the fashionistas that be take a stand in Paris? No one knows, they aren't speaking. But we do know what Armani thinks:

Italian designer Giorgio Armani, writing in the UK's Independent newspaper before London Fashion Week, admitted he preferred models "on the slender side" because "the clothes I design and the sort of fabrics I use need to hang correctly on the body".

So, it seems we have two competing goods. On the one hand, we have to weigh the concerns that the highly influential billion dollar fashion industry is sending a very unhealthy and self-loathing message to young girls about their bodies. On the other hand, we have the artiste, who needs these "naturally gazelle-like models" as hangers for his or her clothes. Hmmm. What is the right thing to do?

I remember the first time the daugther of a friend of mine picked up a fashion magazine. It was designed for teenagers and she was about 11. She read it for about 2 hours while we were in a car driving back from South Carolina. At the end of the trip, she broke down in tears. Once she had flipped through the magazine, she spent the rest of the trip writing down a severe diet and exercise regime to lose weight. She decided that her totally normal, adorable 11 year-old self was quite simply unattractive. Her father proceeded to get very angry at his sister, who had lent the magazine to his daughter. He had striven to protect her from these images her whole life.

I don't think I have ever looked at a fashion magazine since.