Vogue editor on the grotesque starvation of size-zero models


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Well, that was fucking depressing. /soon-to-be-mother of a girl child

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If you are concerned with models health, you can actively boycott the fashion designers that endorse the anorexic beauty ideal. Karl Lagerfeld, for example, used his influence on the former first lady of France Bernadette Chirac (one of his customers), to kill a draft bill protecting all models working in France against dangerously BMI requisitions demanded by models agencies. That bill was inspired by the spanish law against human abuse that banned dangerously thin models on spanish runways.


The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of us were already boycotting Karl Lagerfeld for the simple reason that we cannot afford his clothing (and/or don’t really give a shit about wearing high fashion, to begin with). But we, and our children, still have to deal with the cultural vomit produced by his decisions. And there’s not really any way to change that. That’s the shitty part.


Cheer up! It gets better! My 7 year old is super smart and wonderful. We worked very hard at making sure her body self image is just fine the way it is, and keep her active enough to stay healthy. Of course my tune might change during the teen years. I’m terrified.

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As a photographer who has done some fashion work, I find the notion that walking skeletons make your clothing look better to be moderately insane. We’ve used models in all shapes, sizes and colours - and the responses so far have been very positive. Both on principle, for actually using diversity, but also because the customers can actually see what the clothing will look like /on them/.

The companies with the worst track records for this seem to be the high-fashion houses where you aren’t buying a dress with a label, you’re buying a label with a dress, and the actual aesthetics take a back seat to the status value of the name.


The “fit” model begins the fashion process: designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton.

I immediately wonder why they don’t just bring in a dead skeleton and be done with it. Would dressing something completely dead make any less sense than dressing someone who is almost dead?

They could bring in naturally starving models from impoverished countries. They probably wouldn’t last long in the business though. When they got their first paycheck they’d probably buy food.


I see this in some of my friends’ kids now. One of them is a 12.5 year old girl who is NOT fat by any stretch of the imagination - much to the contrary. And yet she is convinced she is fat - partly to fit in (apparently it is a popular topic amongst her peers) and partly because it is horrible to be an early teen and self-image issues are huge.

I also hear it in my 8 year old boy. Very active, fit and healthy - more so than almost all of his peers. NOT fat, and yet he often describes himself as such. We give him tons of messages to the contrary, but he is getting it from somewhere.

Fashion people are funny. Mock them, deny them influence. If I see Anna Wintour on the street I will point and laugh - look at the haughty skeleton lady! She thinks she matters!

Teaching your kids the Middle Way gets harder all the time.


I wonder if this excerpt is representative of the rest of the book, or whether the Guardian has chosen the chapter most likely to interest readers who don’t care about fashion aside from their concerns over “body image”

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That’s insane-- a fit model should be a happy medium so that larger and smaller sizes can be graded down from the reference pattern. Most buyers are not scaled up anorexics.

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I haven’t bought a fashion/women’s magazine in 18 years and I don’t buy designer clothes, so I’m not sure how else to stick it to this industry at this point. As a visual artist myself, I love sparkly things and glamour as much as the next person, but high fashion is not about beauty at all; it’s about extreme elitism and, frankly, sadism.

What completely illustrated this for me was an episode of America’s Top Model (or whatever it’s called; I’ve watched about 5 episodes). Contestants had to do a shoot submerged in a pool outdoors. After a while, most of the girls were shivering so badly from the cold, they could barely move or speak; eyes rolling back and teeth violently chattering. One curled up next to the pool in a fetal position, shaking like a leaf. Meanwhile, all Tyra Banks could do was shake her head like a disappointed headmistress and go “tsk tsk, this is a tough job. You gotta be able to work it…”. How idiotic and UGLY the situation was. A bunch of underweight waifs expected to writhe in cold-ass water until blue just to take some ohh-la-la picture with their hair floating around. Sure, the girls decided to apply for the job and are free to stop. That doesn’t negate the fact that the people devising this sort of situation clearly enjoy seeing people in distress and unhealthy. Little sadists with their pinkies in the air.

It’s not just about the dumb photos themselves. It’s precisely about the ridiculous expectations; the women bending over backwards to the point of breaking to meet the impossibly high standards. What these designers and editors find ‘beautiful’ is the masochism, the martyrdom, the abject pliancy. It’s about celebrating the very elite few who can make it to the top, either alive with such bodies or with new ideas to perpetuate even more preternatural standards.

It’s a sick, greedy, nasty spectacle and people really need to stop drinking the cool-aid. I hope to heck my daughter never falls into those trappings. I have no clear idea how to ensure this and it scares me. I hope that loving her, loving myself, surrounding her with examples of respectful and self-respecting people and not having such garbage lying around the house is enough, because I can’t control anything else.


Fit models are supposed to be moving, flesh and blood versions of dressforms, so that the designers can see how their creations fit on a real person, and make adjustments as needed. They’re contractually obligated to be a certain set of standard measurements-- whether it be a size 4 or a size 14, and to neither gain nor lose weight.

May I suggest that somebody do a fashion shoot using actual starving people dressed in couture clothes? Perhaps that would begin to shame some of these idiots.

You know, of course, that this is a symptom of the insanity of our culture that allows people to starve around the world when food is more than available to feed meat for us richer people.

A live skeleton? Holy hell, Minecraft is real!


Oh, she and her ilk certainly matter: the alternative is a world where everyone dresses badly and no-one cares about appearance. Beauty is a good thing, and there should be more of it. The problem is that thinness has become fetishised, no doubt in reaction to increasing obesity. At the very least there should be health-and-safety protection for working models even if that means magazines can’t get models with the bodies they want.

Nevertheless, fashion should display the very elite of ideals of beauty and sophistication. It should never be about equality, nor promote the lie that everyone is equally beautiful or equally capable of being beautiful. Intrinsic egalitarianism is a false consciousness that logically rules out self-improvement: you cannot become better than you are without believing that some people are better than others. It is, instead, up to us to discover and promote our own ideals of beauty, true to our own desire and admiration. The body and the mind are both part of the whole person, and both matter. (In fact, the mind is merely something the body does.)

But then, what exactly makes a dead skeleton different from a “real person” ? If some kind of movement is required, it is probably a comparatively trivial matter to hook up some kind of motor to cause the ribcage to rise and fall. It may be somewhat atypical of the breathing patterns of a living person, but clearly the designers parted ways with the typical long ago.

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Thank you, that gives me a good answer for if anyone asks why I don’t care at all for fashion, if elitism and insult are essential to it. You know, I think most musicians and writers would be upset if you told them their work should never be about equality, and yet it’s not like no-one cares about aesthetics there.


The fit model in question was probably being used for the clothes for the runway shows. The actual consumers of the very high end labels tend to be women with loads of cash, obviously, few of whom are 16 year old 6 foot tall runway models. It is basically a bait and switch - the clothes shown on the runway(to prestigious invited guests like editors and the big shoppers and celebrities) are presented with extreme styling, make-up, accessories, on impossibly young, painfully thin and beautiful women. The actual dress that is sold to consumers may be based on the same design, but I am 99% sure that the production patterns are not graded from the runway sample. If they did, the waist would be too long for most women (very difficult to alter in many garments), as well as sleeves and inseam. Many fit models are otherwise invisible - they do not appear as models in photographs or runway work. They are used because they have the ideal “standard” measurements, proportions and weight distribution for the label and target market. I strongly suspect with the big labels that there is a different fit model used for the actual production patterns.

Which is not to say that the beauty ideal that is a suffering bonerack is not deeply flawed…