Monday, June 15, 2009

Average Sized People Are Boring

British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, who has better hair and is significantly less scary looking than her US counterpart, is also ballsy enough to write a letter to major fashion houses (read: advertisers) accusing them of forcing stick-thin models into the pages of magazines, by only providing teeny tiny samples to shoot with.

Alternately hailed as a positive step/PR gimmick, you gotta hand it to her for finally speaking up. Hopefully, people listen. She may have helped launch Kate Moss' 'heroin chic' look, but times change and it's about time breasts and curves took priority. When you think of 'supermodel', what do you think of? Is it the interchangeable eastern European lasses, who all are stunning but are basically the same version of pouts on legs, or the sporty 80's supers? The new breed might win more points with their names in Scrabble but I'd be willing to bet 'Supermodel' still means Claudia, Cindy, Elle, Naomi, Christy to most people. Not that Elle's figure is attainable, but at least she looked and looks healthy. I'd rather look like I was dragged off the beach than out of the gutter.

At the oppsite end of the scale, LOVE magazine (which I finally managed to order a copy of, thanks magnation!) put a nude Beth Ditto on the cover of their inaugral issue. Now, she is a big lady, and appears totally at ease with her looks, so good on her. But while everyone went "oooh, yay" and clapped when the mag was released, it didn't take long for sensible people to point out that Ditto isn't really a healthy role model either. She is, frankly, too fat to be healthy; and even though her confidence should inspire women and girls everywhere, is it right to say that being that big is ok? Is it not as bad as being grossly underweight?

Apparently, nobody has thought about average sized people. They are far too boring and mediocre to care about. Shulman says that magazines can't use it-girls such as Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung because they wouldn't fit into the samples either, and they're not exactly porkers. They're not the "right kind of thin" to feature in shoots - so it's not so much that thin is (or should be) 'out', it's just too-thin which is simply inappropriate. Average sizes, with the usual bumps and curves and all, are not aspirational enough. People don't want to see others who look like them, 'cos otherwise they could save $8 and just look in the mirror. Shulman wrote that readers and the public don't want to see "such thin girls" anymore. But it will be a long time - perhaps it will take a Depression or World War for us to realise that the 'starved' look isn't so pretty when it's not optional - before anything changes dramatically. Shulman has, I think, taken a bold first step, and whether it's for PR or for a genuine purpose, giving fashion houses a swift kick with a stiletto is refreshingly positive.


  1. If magazines actually used images like Beth Ditto for example, instead of stick-thin clothes hangers, I don't actually think people would look at themselves and go 'OMG I need to put on weight!' It's more likely that they'll think 'hey! She looks comfortable in her skin - maybe I should be comfortable too!' I disagree with your statement that Beth v stick-thin is the same thing. It's not.

  2. Thanks for your comment! Beth does seem comfortable in her own skin, which is great, it just is frustrating that 'healthy' or 'average' sized people/celebs barely get a mention, let alone a cover...mediocrity does not sell!

  3. Yeah, you are right about that though. It's just crazy. I mean, take the make-up and nice hair away from your "celebrities" and you've got some VERY plain looking people! Why can't we all just get real and celebrate the average joe???

  4. LOL - do you write for this blog too?
    They just did an article on the same thing!
    Great minds think alike, huh!