Is it fashion’s fault?

Today, I was reading an obligatory article on anorexia, and the influence of fashion industry on it. While reading it, I got more and more angry at the writers, for their obvious eye patches and lack of nuance. Their point: anorexia has everything to do with today’s fashion, above all today’s obsession with a skinny body. Whatever they said, it all led to this conclusion, and I started to be annoyed.

Very annoyed, in fact.

Because in no way, I am able to see why today’s fashion is so responsable for anorexia, or any eating disorder for that matter. Who can even prove me that anorexia is way more common today? It might be like that, but I’ve got plenty of explanations for that – if you have to work your ass off to buy food, you’ll never get anorexia, I think. You will cherish food. So I do believe that it is possible that eating disorders are way common now. But why do you point at the fashion industry? Don’t you just need a scapegoat? I do not agree on this matter.
First of all: fashion, and its ideals, have always been present. We claim that everybody has to be so skinny nowadays. Pray tell, what did corsets serve for? I’ve seen corsets from around 1800, and they made your waist the size of a fist (approximately). They were equally unhealthy, they even screwed up your ribs. That was fashion too. Wouldn’t you like to be as skinny as possible to fit in that thing of torture? Oh yes, you would! Who knows how many women have starved just to have a waist like a wasp? There are no ciphers around – anorexia wasn’t known yet (if I’m right). Will you tell me that today’s fashion is so much more guilty then?

And another thing: fashion is always something different. The clothes change every season (three times every season), because people have a biological tendency to long for change. In fact, fashion is in our genes, we want it. Do we want to starve for that matter? No, we don’t. But we do want a different look every now and then, a new aim to get, and I’m not only talking about clothes. In 1950, women wanted a small waist and curvy hips. Now we want skinniness. The newer tendency is even a more curvy figure anyway. Though the models are still mostly as thick as a finger. It’s also a form of fashion, and it has always been that way: fashion gives us a new idea, is a new idea of what is beautiful, and it’s in our nature to try to be beautiful.
We can see fashion from a different angle too: it’s a form of art, and art is never reality. It may look as if it’s so close to what is real, but it never is. Art is not daily life. The models are like sculptures: they show us something that seems very realistic, but in fact isn’t all true. The same for fashion photography: pictures of models would make people insecure, even though we know how those pictures have been touched up. I repeat: art is never reality. It might come close, but it never is. Most people will agree on the fact that photography is a sort of art, and that implies that every magazine includes art, which isn’t real, so we should not look at it as if it’s real! Just like you shouldn’t watch Titanic, believing that those people have existed!

V Magazine has done a photo shoot with an ‘average’ model and a ‘full size’ model.

How is all of this linked to eating disorders?
Well, I named reasons why you should not identify with models. It are mainly reasons why the entire fashion industry should not be banished. It aren’t really reasons why you wouldn’t get an eating disorder due to it. But look: ask any girl with an eating disorder why she got one, and I don’t think you’ll find one girl (or boy!) who claims to have gotten it due to fashion. There are always background troubles: insecurity, being bullied, a bad situation at home, abuse,… Maybe the society that asks too much of us today. But just the pictures of models in a magazine? I don’t think they can ba the only reason for feeling bad. Or at least you will not starve yourself because you think you don’t look like a model. An eating disorder is such a complex thing that can’t be explained by one thing only. And yes, today, we’d consider the Venus of Milo rather curvy, or even chubby. But at that time too, there must have been women who did not look like her, and who tried to be lookalikes. Maybe they ate much fat to get the same curves. Healthy?

We should also not consider 44 to be the best size. It isn’t a bad size, but so is 36. Being too skinny isn’t healthy, but so is being too fat. Of course there are models who starve themselves, but I believe that that has more to do with the focus on their body, and maybe they’re even told they should lose weight to be successful. If becoming a model is your dream, it is normal that such verdict turns you sad. And it’s normal that pressure and loneliness and the aim for perfection make you sick. But it’s not okay that people judge on your looks only (if you’re a model, actually it is normal), or rather: it’s not normal that people are able to judge on something like looks in such a hard way.

But when I’m looking at the pictures of models, I never get insecure. I know how Photoshop has changed them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m one of the blessed people who are naturally skinny. I do have friends (a lot of them) who tell me they want to lose weight. Maybe they even try to do it. That is the real consequence of this weight hysteria: people will be thinking about their weight and food. My friends start to eat healthier (or do nothing at all), and that is never a bad thing.

This picture has been criticised: it would provoke eating disorders.

It might be much related to each other, but the tendency of every fashion magazine to tell women which are the new diets, are way more harmful than models on a catwalk. Those magazines are always ambivalent: they tell us how we should feel great of ourselves, and a few pages further on, they’ll reveal us the secrets of Gwyneth Paltrow to lose weight by eating soup only for three weeks. Yes, you’ll tell me, but they do so because fashion tells us we should all be so skinny.
Is that so? Models are skinny, yes, but clothes are available in a lot of sizes. Maybe 52 is harder to find, but 52 isn’t healthy, so I don’t feel really sorry for that.

I won’t disagree that there is an obsession with thinness, but do NOT just point at the fashion industry to blame them.