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Helen Dickman explores the rise and fall of the 1990s supermodel othing tastes as good as skinny feels”. Well Kate Moss, I’m here to tell you otherwise.

The “pressure of skinny” is something a majority of the teenage population can relate to – I for one most certainly can. But why do we aspire to these unhealthy and frankly unattractive forms? While I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to be thin, there’s a fine line between being healthy and being unhealthy, and for the past few decades, that line has been a Burberry catwalk. The fashion industry in the 1990s grew out a period of beautiful, curvy women. During the 1970s and 1980s, the industry and its models promoted a fuller body aesthetic than they do today. Now, this glorification of a size 0 (UK size 4) figure has been known to lead to some serious issues such as anorexia and body dysmorphia. If the 1990s came after an era of the voluptuous bikini babe, during which size 10 (UK size 14) was the norm, why did this so drastically change? Cindy Crawford, one of the original beauties of the industry, has openly said she feels sorry for the models of today. And yet, while we watch the size 0 and size 2 (UK size 6) models strutting down the catwalks of the Louis Vuitton show, the average size for a woman in the UK is a size 16. Have you ever seen a size 16 supermodel? No. Me neither. In fact, in the modelling industry, sizes 8-10 (UK sizes 12-14) are considered “plus-size”. To me, this seems absurd. These plus sized models -- with a few exceptions -- are never as successful as their “normal size” counterparts.

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By creating these categories of “plus-size” and “normal size”, all the industry is doing is creating a discourse of an unattainable body image. It makes it seem like a size 8 is abnormal – but it’s not. In the US, this is starting to change. There are a number of American plus-size models, ranging between sizes 14 and 22 (UK sizes 18 and 26), who are finding success, a big first step toward fashion better representing the everyday American woman. While this is a change I support, I think you have to be careful to not go too far the other way – promoting an obese body image is no better than promoting an excessively skinny one. It’s time the industry finds the balance. Perhaps if runways weren’t one or the other, but a mix of body sizes, then women wouldn’t feel the need to fit into either extreme. Having a mix of sizes, as opposed to one ideal, helps make variety normal and rids the feeling of women needing to fit a mold. In recent years, the fashion industry has found itself at the centre of another hot topic: the objectification of women. But is this really happening as much people say it is? Of course it’s an issue, but I think most people are missing the point. Fashion is art. The act of designing, creating, and displaying clothing is an art. It may not be accepted as an artistic practice


by institutions like the Royal Academy, but for those of you who made it to Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty show last year, I think you’ll agree with me. Models are part of this artistic aesthetic. They’re the mode of display for the clothes, for the art, and their entire appearance is one part of the

Another interesting question is why modelling is such a female-dominated profession. Does it just have to do with the nature of the fashion industry? Is it just because there are more brands, designers, and products for women? Men can be these walking works of art as well, can’t they? Perhaps we give

Profile for Pi Media, UCLU

Pi Magazine, Issue 713 - Re:Generation  

Our third issue of 2015-16 explores our generation of millennial, and our collective identity. Why is our generation the way it is - what ex...

Pi Magazine, Issue 713 - Re:Generation  

Our third issue of 2015-16 explores our generation of millennial, and our collective identity. Why is our generation the way it is - what ex...