Big is beautiful. We know this because we are told every day by just about any media outlet or social justice warrior you care to pay attention to. Being skinny, or even slim, on the other hand, has become tantamount to a criminal act these days if you pay any heed to the Feminist masses who are quick to cry “body shaming!” as soon as an advertisement dares to present a healthy and attractive woman as a role model.
Supersize vs super skinny
This week we saw fashion design label Yves Saint Laurent have one of their advertisements banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for “irresponsibly” using a model who was underweight and considered to be an unhealthy role model. The use of such super-slim models has increasingly come under fire for years now, and rightly so I should add, for promoting an unrealistic and unhealthy body image and potentially shaming or encouraging younger girls to strive for such a figure.
“We therefore considered that the model appeared unhealthily underweight in the image and concluded that the ad was irresponsible.” – ASA
As a Father of two young girls I applaud the decision to ban this advert, it’s easy to see what the issues were with this campaign and why it wasn’t deemed suitable for public consumption. The fact that YSL had the audacity to dispute the ban just shows how far removed from reality ‘high fashion’ is these days. For most girls and women, attaining a (skeletal) figure like the one in this advert could only be achieved by making themselves very ill indeed and if we allow one such advertisement to be shown then a precedent is set and high fashion design labels can continue in the same vein, potentially normalising this look and presenting it as something to be aspired to.
The YSL advert and its subsequent banning has sparked a debate regarding body image and the responsibility of advertisers in the fashion industry to present a healthier body image. Samantha Arditti who heads the ‘Be Real’ campaign had this to say about the advert:
“This is a prime example of advertisers selecting models based on the outdated premise that the only way to sell products is by presenting an idealised view of the female body – in this case showing a model who is so thin that she is deemed unhealthily underweight.
“We need media, advertisers and publishers to use images that show a diverse range of models to reflect what we really look like so we can feel more confident about who we are, which in turn will not only lead to a healthier attitude to our bodies but a society that values health above appearance.”
While it’s clear that this model was anything but an ‘idealised view of the female body’, the point about her figure makes a lot of sense. However, in the second sentence we hear Samantha state that a wider range of models with more ‘realistic’ figures should be shown instead, yet she stops short of discussing whether she feels that larger but equally unhealthy models should receive the same treatment.
Recently, France took the bold step of making it illegal to employ ‘dangerously skinny’ women for catwalk modelling. A lower BMI limit (according to the World Health Organization, a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight) will be set, beneath which employers must turn away aspiring models or face fines and even a potential prison term. Interestingly though, there’s no upper BMI limit being discussed as far as I am aware, and if there is then surely the current media darling Tess Holliday is in serious danger of losing her job.
Tess Holliday and fat acceptance
In recent months, Tess Holliday has become one of the worlds most well-known models and has stated that she is happy to be fat because after all, it’s “just a word”. Presumably her brain isn’t quite as well fed as the rest of her because, as the rest of the world is all too aware, obesity and ‘fat’ are very real, as are the inherent health risks, and the current ‘fat acceptance’ movement is in danger of making things far worse for future generations. Already, childhood obesity is a big health issue facing the west and is in danger of being seriously undermined by the toxic idea that “big is beautiful”. Already it is expected that by 2050 half of the UK’s adult population will be obese, if we are to change this, action must be taken in the right direction, and soon.
Don’t misunderstand my feelings regarding Tess, nobody can seriously deny that she is a stunningly beautiful woman. With pouting lips, sultry eyes and perfect hair she clearly deserves to be recognised among the most well known models in the world and genuine body shaming, regardless of size, should never be tolerated within society just as we wouldn’t tolerate homophobia or racism.
Tess Holliday is a part of the increasingly popular body positive community which fights to “boost body image at any weight”, she is famed for the popular hashtag #effyourbeautystandards and is outspoken about her size and has recently taken part in Simply Be’s ‘fightback against the fashion industry’s obsession with super skinny looks’, Which, if they were using regular sized models (10 to 14 UK sizes) would be a great message, but to use a 5’3″ size 26 model to promote such a campaign is, frankly, taking it from one extreme to the other and actively promoting unhealthiness in exactly the same way as the YSL advert.
Without even looking up the numbers it is quite obvious that, in our society, obesity is a far more prevalent concern than being dangerously underweight, and that alone should surely be enough to make it clear that promoting models such as Tess Holliday as positive role models, using phrases like ‘big is beautiful’ or ‘real woman have curves’ and describing a size 26 model as ‘voluptuous’ are, if anything, more dangerous than showing a skinny model in a YSL advert.
So what are we doing to ensure that as well as removing these dangerously underweight, emaciated models from the modelling world, we are also tackling the far more prevalent issue of obesity? Well, in the modern age of Feminism and their very public revolt against body shaming, what is being done is absolutely nothing. In fact, the main issue surrounding such models at present is the argument that they shouldn’t be called “plus-sized” because it makes them appear different to other models and so the phrase, rather than the morbidly obese models, is being called ‘problematic’.
Beach body ready isn’t fat shaming, it’s health promoting
The idea of course, being promoted by Feminism, the media and indeed models such as Tess, is that body shapes like hers which are considered abnormal, should be accepted as the norm, but in a world where two out of three Americans is obese and similarly, Two thirds of Britons are considered to be overweight, is this really the way forward?
We must ask ourselves at some point why it is that advertising a healthy body and lifestyle has become a ‘Feminist issue’ and something to campaign and fight against while terribly unhealthy bodies and lifestyles are being actively encouraged. There’s a level of hypocrisy at work here which is mind boggling and worse yet, appears to be being largely (if you’ll excuse the pun) accepted. The reason for such an obvious and yet, seemingly unnoticed discrepancy might be, ironically, that while being ‘super skinny’ is very unhealthy, it is relatively rare in western society and therefore something we feel happy to discuss, whereas being overweight is something that many of us struggle with on a daily basis, the issue has become taboo to us because in our additive filled, sedimentary lifestyles, the last thing we want is to be reminded that our ‘normal’ might not be healthy.
Tess Holliday is lauded as being representative of normal people but perhaps that is exactly the problem….