Gina Kolata has just written a book called "Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss -- and the Myths and Realities of Dieting." Kolata is one of the NYTimes' top science reporters, and her book chronicles the difficulty people have of losing weight, explores the genetic bases for obesity, and even suggests that the outcry over obesity is overblown. Moreover, she suggests that perhaps the obesity "epidemic" exists because we're actually in beter health, and maybe, even, the extra pounds contribute to our well-being. Kolata offers a point of view that is provocative and counter-intuitive, and which should be a great relief to those of us who have trouble losing a few pounds.
"Unilever has adopted a new global guideline that will require that all its future marketing communications should not use models or actors that are either excessively slim or promote 'unhealthy' slimness," Ralph Kugler, president of Unilever's home and personal care division, said Tuesday.
It's obvious what the solution to the skinny model problem is -- stop hiring models with eating disorders.
One of the more depressing lines was from Doutzen Kroes (pictured below), a Dutch model, who was told she was too fat to be cast in the Gucci show. She says:
"I like the Versace show best so far. The collection is really beautiful and at Versace femininity is important. Feminine shapes are allowed. In contrary to Gucci where I got rejected because I was too fat! Gucci likes slim girls only."
That Kroes is not skinny enough for Gucci is a depressing thought, but it certainly confirms that Gucci is offering up a look that is so beyond aspirational it is unhealthy.
Too Fat for Fashion nails Vogue and the fashion industry for their squishy and blame-shifting response to the problem of anorexia. Perhaps the editors of Vogue and the folks at Gucci aren't thinking straight. After all, cognitive impairment is a common side-effect of eating disorders.
On the front page of today's Wall Street Journal, there's an article about how Japanese retailers are expanding the number of sizes they offer. Apparently, Japanese women are becoming curvier, and the retailers are adapting.
The average 20 year old Japanese woman is 3 inches taller than her counterpart in 1950. Moreover, her hips are broader, and she wears a bra two sizes larger than her mother did. Nutritionists believe that these changes are as a result of a more Westernized diet, and that the increased fat intake tends to go to the hips and breasts of adolescent girls.
In Japan, it has been common for girls to flaunt their legs, but flaunting their busts is something quite new. The WSJ writes that:
"The cleavage craze took off in 2003, when a young pop star named Kumi Koda appeared in ads around Tokyo wearing a barely-there metallic bra and not much else. In one image, she wore coconut shells over her chest. Then, two years later, she performed at the televised Japan Record Awards wearing thin tape-like gold satin straps over her breasts that revealed nearly everything when she danced. The 24-year-old star has become the champion of a new "If you've got it, flaunt it" attitude among young Japanese women."
Perhaps this marks a turning point for size 0 clothes. If the nation with the slimmest, most petite women is going va-va-voom, 32DD will trump size 0.
Women's Wear Daily thinks that anorexic models may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. "Under the protections of the act," WWD said, "a candidate cannot be passed over for a job only because he or she has a disability, if an employer could accommodate the person with a reasonable amount of adjustments."
It's amazing how desperate the fashion industry is to find some way to accommodate its preference for size 0 models. First, they argue that it's not the designers' fault, it's the stylists, or the models, or maybe the modeling agencies. When that argument fails, Vogue steps up with a panel of fashion insiders discussing eating disorders and the CFDA offers voluntary guidelines. And then WWD raises the specter of the ADA to an industry that has never given much thought to addressing the rights of minorities or the disabled.
When I see a model rolling down the runway in a wheelchair at the next Calvin Klein show, maybe I'll feel for the designers who worry about the legality of excluding anorexics.
If you're a snooty, image-conscious sorority, with a chapter filled with smart, but not especially cute members, don't kick those brainy sisters out of the house. This is what Delta Zeta tried to do at DePauw University, and now the sorority has been kicked off the campus. It's a fitting end to an ugly incident.
While leafing through TIME's Style & Design issue, I spotted a few choice quotes about the fashion/eating disorders controversy:
We don't see anorexic. The girls are skinny. They have skinny bones.
-- Karl Lagerfeld
I have never liked thin girls, and I have never made them go on the catwalk.
-- Giorgio Armani
I wanted to lose a few kilos recently, as I'm heavier than I was 20 or 30 years ago. It's really convenient to be thinner. I didn't eat for a day and a half, and the scales moved a little.
-- Vivienne Westwood
Fashion is not the cause of juvenile problems. There are other ways to take care of our young generation: stop showing half-naked starlets on television, ban silicone implants if one is not at least 25, for example.
This may or may not be coming to a store near you....A Gucci Phone!
-- Just when you thought cell phones could not become more annoying, intomobile.com reports on a "fashion phone" trend. Between Nokia's Vertu brand, and LG's Prada Phone, there's plenty of room for more fashion entrants.
In addition to placing and receiving calls, this Gucci phone will tell you if your clothes suck. It will also remind you to buy Marlboros and to eat nothing but salad.
The New York Times has a piece on VH1's show, "The Agency", which looks into life at the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency. In one scene, an agent measures a models hips and discovers that the model has gone from 35" to 36 1/2". “You’re like the Pillsbury doughboy,” the agent says. “You’ve gotten fatter and yes, I said the f-word.”
While some are suggesting that these scenes are contrived, with the bitchiness and conflict given a boost to create reality-tv drama, others say that "The Agency" is actually quite accurate in its portrayal of the modeling industry. From the article:
One former model also attested to a harsher reality. Amanda Kerlin, an author of the novel “Secrets of the Model Dorm,” has not watched the show, but said that while she worked in the industry, weekly measurements were not uncommon, especially during the time leading up to Fashion Week.
“After a while it messes with your psyche,” she said. “Some girls chose to starve themselves or took drugs to keep the weight off. A lot of girls develop bad eating habits. Some girls will have one Big Mac a day, smoke Marlboros and just drink a lot of coffee because it boosts your metabolism.”
Maybe, there's a book in that...."The Model Diet" -- smoke two packs a day, drink a gallon of coffee, and if your body needs a little protein, eat a Big Mag, and throw half of it up.
Is it art, or is it misogyny? Whatever it is, Dolce & Gabbana might want to reconsider their ad campaigns.
Do the women who buy D&G's products respond favorably to the rape fantasy depicted in this ad? Do the designers really understand their customers? Here's an interview with Stefano Gabbana that suggests the designers are out of touch.