A major breakthrough has been made in the campaign against seemingly anorexic models. Style bible French Elle has put plus sized models on this month's cover, as reported by the Guardian this week;
This is, without putting too fine a point on it, a MASSIVE DEAL. It may not change the skinny-obsessed world of fashion forever, but it is a statement, a message sent from one of the industry's leading publications to the rest of the world. I am not naive enough to imagine that this will be a permenant fixture - and am sure that next month the magazine will revert to tres petite models again. However, just by being brave enough to go with this cover shot, Elle has moved the goal posts.
There is definitely a positive movement within the fashion industry towards promoting real bodies, real women with real curves. This is a realistic idea - fashion in general is becoming far more open to to the general public, with blogs, fast moving high streets and magazine websites, so it makes sense to represent real women. As part of the industry myself, I can understand why designers prefer thinner models. They are easier to create clothing for, because there are none of the restrictions and worries that normal women have about curvy bits busting out all over the place! Dressing a size six model is the closest a designer will get to showing their clothes on hangers - almost as two dimensional as the sketches in their workroom.
I am happy to see slim, healthy models on the catwalk, because ultimately a slender body will generally be healthier than an obsese one, and it makes sense for designers to create smaller samples to save on fabric. As long as a large range of sizes are represented once the lines hit the boutiques, fashion lovers will be a lot happier. But the practice of using adolescent, anorexic girls in fashion shows has to stop.
Having sat in the front row at LFW a few years ago, I was shocked that the models were even skinnier in the flesh - what little there was of it - than in their Style.com photos. Their hip bones virtually entered the room before them. It was scary. Now, I hugely respect and admire Karl Lagerfeld, but he would probably group me into the category of 'fat mummies' (as he labelled all women who criticise thin models) because I don't fit the size zero model ideal.
However, I am in a position to criticise, because I have been that thin - possibly even thinner - due to that ever popular teenage trend, anorexia. Yep, I couldn't escape the dreaded A-word and I was a very, very sick little girl. Health wise, my body was shutting down, and my personality was warped by a parasitic illness that made me a stranger to my family. Don't worry, this is not one of those pity stories that gets dragged up in self help books and This Morning - I am simply saying, that the mental illness that takes over your brain and makes you want to stop eating until you die, is just not really 'chic'. It is horrible - and what is more, it screws you up for life, if not mentally than definitely physically. There are serious repurcussions to this illness, and anything that can be done to prevent another generation suffering in it's evil clutches is a good thing.
I am not saying that all models are anorexic. I am sure that is not the case, especially for the youngest ones - they have not even hit puberty yet, so of course their bodies are still tiny and unformed. But the older girls, whose collarbones could pick up Channel 5 and skin is grey from malnutrition are obviously in trouble. They are either being forced to starve themselves by their agents, or have already fallen prey to anorexia - the illness that only needs the smallest of triggers to take up residence in a young person's mind and body.
So I applaud French Elle, and their small step towards regaining a sense of reality in fashion. Fashion will still be glamourous, gorgeous, and fantastical, and we won't need to be size 6 to appreciate it.