Vogue editor on the grotesque starvation of size-zero models

If such people matter, it is because you have chosen to give power to them.

I choose not to. Because they are ugly. The fashion industry is ugly; Anna Wintour is ugly; and fashion magazines are ugly too.

But then again, there’s that eye-of-the-beholder thing - I am content- and function-oriented, and also an essential monist… in my world the self-proclaimed arbiters of “fashion” primarily function as absurdist counter examples to art and beauty. Beauty is laughing happy people making things they love in a healthy, challenging and rich environment. Ugliness is artificial layers of shiny filth produced in sweatshops and paraded by starving neurotics for sadistic overseers in gewgaw-encrusted, hivelike fortresses of concrete and steel.


I suspect that some of the buyers for the really high end couture are quite old and thin.

Insult is not essential to it. Excellence is, and by definition excellence is that which is better than everything else. Being insulted by the notion that there are others who are better or prettier than you is a sign of narcissistic disorder.

There’s nothing wrong with writing about equality, as a theme, but no-one should aim to write or make music to be no better and no worse than any other writing or music. People should do and be their best, that is all.

I was married to a woman who developed anorexia so I’ve seen first hand how awful it can be. It’s like drug addiction in that they won’t listen to reason or admit they have a problem and so you just watch helplessly as they spiral downwards.

It was finally her fear that she might die and the fact that she didn’t want to leave her daughter motherless that helped her get out of that vicious cycle.

She’s healthy now, she’s thin but not emaciated and she doesn’t make trips to the emergency room anymore, but she still thinks she’s fat and although she eats regular food she still diets more than she should.

In that regard, like alcoholism, it’s something she’ll have to live with her entire life.


I can’t figure out who or what couture fashion is actually for. Nobody wears it; hardly anyone is physically capable of wearing it; and yet everybody always seems to be talking about it. Where’s the profit in a ruinously-expensive dress design that gets draped over a skeleton, walked once up and down a runway, and then never seen again?


Writing and music are about expressing yourself, your ideas, your emotions. Of course some people are much better at them, and we celebrate the results. But everyone can be encouraged to try; there are lots of places where everyone is welcome to tell stories and sing songs, and people who don’t manage are still welcome to enjoy them. There’s a reason people say these things bring us together.

The mash of abuse-promotion described in the article, the couture-for-nobody PF wonders about, are the opposite. And your description of a world that shouldn’t be about equality, where people like Wintour must be special or we will all fail, sure makes it sound like that’s by design.

To be fair, though, I guess people can approach music and writing that way too. But they shouldn’t, and lots of people don’t.


The strange thing is that you seem to be applauding things which are not excellent, and in fact are in all ways worse and uglier than easily obtained alternatives.

Are you saying that self-abuse is admirable, that industries that harm people epitomize aesthetic value, and that clothes that are ill-fitting and impractical have inordinate value? Because that’s a capsule description of the “fashion industry” as it presents itself to me. Ugly.


We treat eating disorders very similarly to how we treat drug and alcohol addiction.

People do live with the disorder for the rest of their lives. I am always angered when I hear people say “Why don’t they just eat?” or “They could stop if they wanted to” not realizing the actual addiction issues going on that can also be coupled with compulsive tendencies.

I am glad she is doing better.


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’s very problematic to apply this principle to physical beauty alone instead of a skill or ability that one can choose or develop. While it’s true that levels of skills can actually be measured opposite each other, you can’t do that with ‘beauty’. You can quantify a few very broad aesthetic values to some extent, but beyond being healthy and viable, there aren’t many absolute truths about what makes a human- or any animal- ‘beautiful’. Most supposedly ‘elite ideals’ are arbitrary, narrow, culturally-bound and endorsed because enough people recognize them, at some point or another. The fact that it happens doesn’t mean it’s not completely artificial and disposable (like making little mass-produced polyester bean bags some precious collectibles for a while).

I’m totally fine with the general concept of adorning oneself and gaining a general sense of aesthetics, especially if it’s done in a spirit of playfulness and genuine self expression. But I think that the notion that even bodies and faces must fit a few select models in order to be accepted as ‘sophisticated’ or ‘ideal’ is just elitism for its own sake. It’s manufacturing unattainability for the sole purpose of worshiping it. It’s also making up standards so that as many people as possible can spend a ludicrous amount of money to abide to them.


Couture = handmade and impossibly expensive - like a $ 40,000.00 tailored suit. The consumers who purchase these items are personally fit from start to finish - whether they are a 20 year old celebrity with a model figure or a 75 year old flabby hunchback = individual patterns.

Haute Couture is a very specific legal classification in France which bears zero resemblance to anyone from anywhere describing their garments as “couture”(I’m looking at you “Juicy Couture” purveyors of bedazzled sweatpants with screenprinted logos fer chrissakes). Couture is also not made into any sort of production patterns or line.

True Haute Couture does not exist in department stores or boutiques, although they may have samples to show their extremely wealthy clientele. If you were dropping $ 40,000.00 for perhaps $ 5,000.00 of the finest cloth, lining, buttons, interfacing and thread, wouldn’t you expect to have your garment precisely tailored to your every whim ?


Well yes. Hand made garments, made to fit the client. If the hundred or so regular clients of a designer tend to be rather thinner than what is average, even gaunt, then the dress designs may be skewed to fit that body type.

Fashion is also about expressing yourself, and, likewise, everyone can be encouraged to try to become more attractive, more beautiful, and according both to their own and to their cultural standards. You are right to point out that there is something unhealthy in the standards of thinness (mirroring the unhealthyness of so much obesity), but the solution to that is to promote one’s own ideals, not to abandon standards entirely just to satisfy the bitter ressentiment of the lazy and ugly.

The world should not be about equality. It should be about achievement, excellence, improvement, raising up everyone or anyone or at least someone. It should be about strength, intelligence, health, ability, beauty, power and all those other awesome D&D stats, as well as much now derided under the boo-word “privilege”. It should be about whatever we, individually and collectively, truly value and admire. This really ought to be obvious.

Reminds me of the Kate Upton photo shoot in Antarctica … so cold that she could not move her legs and later experienced problems with her hearing and eyesight: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/02/15/kate_upton_s_sports_illustrated_swimsuit_cover_the_costs_of_filming_naked.html The link also mentions an episode of America’s Top Model where a model suffered hypothermia (what you saw?). Apparently first the it was the model’s fault for not being tough enough, then it was the model’s fault for not saying “no”.

Yes, in general all standards, values and ideals belong to someone, to individuals, to cultures. You should improve yourself by your own standards. You can become better than the person you were, better according to what it is about yourself that you value.

There are two bad ideas I find in the “cultural Left”. One is that there is an objective value system under which each individual is equally valuable. This is what rules out self-improvement. But actually we all have our own values, under which we may value some people more than others.

The other is a tendency to erase valuing of the body and claim that a person “is” their mind, that their mind is the only thing that counts. But actually, a whole person is a body and a mind, or a body that has a mind, and to interpret and value a person is to interpret and value any of that.

You are right to point to playfulness and self-expression, these are the keys to discovering one’s own values. But I must disagree with you about unattainability: representation of ideals do not have to be attainable, they merely have to encourage one to improve. In ancient times ideals were personified (as pagan gods), these were certainly not attainable but always drew us upwards.

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Modern times, too. Voudoun and Hinduism, I think, at the very least.

Disregarding the capitalized left schtick, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who honestly thinks all people are equally valuable in all situations. Perhaps you are confused by the American ideal of equal treatment under the social contract (as in “all men are created equal”) with a belief in literal equality? Obviously everyone knows blind people are not physically equal to sighted people (blind people have more finely developed proprioception, of course). And fatter people can be rendered into more saleable components than skinny people, and are thus inherently more valuable in a free market. But people should be treated as equals until they themselves redefine their status by their behavior, n’cest pas?

Since the behavior of the fashion industry is destructive, abusive and aesthetically displeasing, I shall consider the participants in that behavior to be lesser beings, deserving of mockery.


Treated by whom? Certainly as individuals we may, privately, value anything about a person, not only their behaviour.

The state should, by and large, treat all adult non-criminal citizens equally, but entirely for practical reasons. Even then there might be exceptions.

Fat rendered into soylent green? What?

By you and I, yes as individuals. I apologize for my poor communication skills; there are others who are more skilled and aesthetically pleasing in the craft of English composition. But one works with what one has, and endeavors to persevere.

I thought you were talking about abstract value, not cannibalism. Human fat is valuable, especially baby fat. All other things being equal, in a laissez-faire marketplace fat people are worth more money to buyers.

Certainly not. There is much to be said for treating people politely, but not necessarily equally. If someone is more attractive to me, or seems to share more in common with me, I will likely give them more of my attention and interest.