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Silvie Koang ARE PLUS SIZE MODELS BAD FOR OUR SELF-ESTEEM?! Tuesday, March 30, 2010 Posted by Fashion Junior at Large Just when we thought we might finally get some respite from the great weight debate... Porenza schouler AW... 5

ARE PLUS SIZE MODELS BAD FOR OUR SELF-ESTEEM?!

Posted by Fashion Junior at Large

Just when we thought we might finally get some respite from the great weight debate...

Porenza schouler AW10

These are just a small selection of the size related stories I've spotted over the past couple of weeks:

Marc Jacobs insists he didn't use 'curvier' models in his AW10 show as a means to comment on the industry's ultra-skinny fixation: 'It wasn't a statement on age, and it wasn't a statement about body shape'. (WWD)

Michael Kors vows not to employ models under the age of 16, Natalia Vodianova admits to developing anorexia after the birth of her child, and Anna Wintour calls on designers to reverse the 'tyranny of sample sizes that barely fit a 13-year-old on the edge of puberty' (The Cut)

Twiggy claims all she ever wanted was 'A fairy godmother to make me look like Marilyn Monroe. I had no boobs, no hips, and I wanted them desperately' (AP)

Debenhams introduces size 16 mannequins in a bid to be more representative of the average woman (Belfast Telegraph)

Precious star Gabourey Sidibe is snubbed by Vogue insider: 'She's a joke in the fashion community. What she wore on the red carpet at the Academy Awards wasn't a dress, it was a tent' (NY Daily News)

 You may even have seen French ELLE's plus size spread featuring the lovely Tara Lynn:




The question is how do you feel about it? New research from Arizona State University suggests that images featuring 'normal sized' women (whatever that really means) can actually make us feel worse about ourselves. The study divided women into three groups based on their Body Mass Index - underweight (below 18.5), normal (18.5 - 25), and overweight (25-30). The participants were then asked to evaluate their feelings whilst looking at adverts featuring models who ranged from very thin to very heavy. 

The women classified as overweight were unhappy whether they were looking at tiny models or heavier ones, feeling uncomfortably similar to the latter and upsettingly distant from the former. In contrast the underweight participants were (smugly) comfortable whatever image they were viewing.

More surprising perhaps were the results from the group with normal BMIs. These participants were consumed with anxiety when faced with the larger models, imagining themselves to be much more similar to these women than they were in reality. For some reason we feel better about ourselves looking at unfathomably thin models! (Perhaps it's down to a classic case of numbness through over-exposure. Like when an English character pops up in an American film and for some reason they sound foreign). This is a thought that has been plaguing me for a while now. For years we imagined that if only editors would agree to feature more realistically sized models we would all feel a whole lot better about ourselves. Now our wish has finally been granted, only to leave us just as dissatisfied as before.

Whilst I fully agree that the fashion industry should shoulder some responsibility (in my opinion the model at the top of this post is painfully ill-looking and was probably an irresponsible hire) it irks me when people (my mother included) try to position it as a big bad machine sucking up perfectly ordinary happy girls and spitting them back out as anorexics. Anorexia is a vicious, all consuming, life ruining mental disorder. Friends of mine who are sufferers have much greater demons at work in their minds than simply the desire to look like waif-era Kate Moss. There will always be people thinner and more beautiful, but if we can cultivate better self-esteem and a foundation of worth based on intelligence, independence and morals we should be able to view magazines as, in the words of Karl Lagerfeld, 'dreams and illusions'. 

Maybe it's ok that magazines don't reflect reality. They represent escapism and perfection which serve to energise and inspire readers - hopefully in a positive way.

Pic credits: Catwalking.com, fashionfoiegras.com
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