Sofia Redgrave

It’s January, and I’m sure that the extra pounds accumulated over Christmas are playing on all our minds

As I write this, I can feel the floor of my bedroom shake to the sound of my housemates dancing along to “pump it up”, the weight loss video by Ministry of Sound. It’s January, and I’m sure that the extra pounds accumulated over Christmas are playing on all our minds. This obsession is time and time again linked to the ‘superficial’ world of fashion. My friends all look fantastic, but their exercise highlights an inherent trait in women to worry about their weight. We are all aspiring to emulate an ‘ideal’, often modelesque figure, and at the same time these models “aspire to be aphrodite” – a never ending cycle of disappointment. There is a confusion between fashion and beauty standards, and Tanya Gold is most definitely confused. In her Guardian piece ‘Why I Hate Fashion’, she states: “sometimes, I tear them up, these glossy pages full of anorexic children – part human, part makeup, part computer program.”

We are all aspiring to emulate an ‘ideal’ often modelesque figure

Gold is confusing fashion with body image: rather than worrying about models, we should focus on fashion as an individual entity rather than bringing the focus back to the body. Fashion enables people to express themselves in creative and original ways. In opposition to Gold, one of the most influential figures in the industry, Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, put the notion to rest last year in a strong worded letter addressed to some of the largest fashion houses in the world. Shulman accused designers for pushing thinner and thinner models into magazines, ones with “jutting bones and no breasts or hips” as a result of the “miniscule” sample sizes they receive for shoots – the Vogue art department was, for years, retouching photos of models to make them look bigger! Also, take a look at Mark Fast – he sent three plus sized models down the S/S 2010 catwalk, another stand against the beauty ideals of the fashion industry.

All the models looked fantastic in tight, ripped and short clothes – dresses that I would never wear. Why would I find it difficult to wear one of these dresses? It is because we are led to believe clothes like this are designed for the ‘ideal’ body to which we aspire, but yet the models look great. While we struggle to get thin, an increasing number of models, with an ‘ideal’ body, are breaking away from the rules dictated by their profession and putting on weight.

Think Gemma Ward, Crystal Renn, Lara Stone – maybe they know something that we don’t: curves might actually be having a fashion moment. Currently, billboards all over Manhattan are posted with high-fashion images from V Magazine showing beautiful girls who do have a bit of meat on their thighs and the odd tummy roll. The catch line – “One Size Fits All”, appropriately describes the side by side identical looks from two is a typical model size zero, the other more ‘normal’. The effect is powerful and shows that fashion can flatter bodies other than those of models. So, maybe we should join, Fast, Shulman and V Magazine in encouraging designers to create clothes for different shaped women and promote individuality, and hope that comments such as Kate Moss’ “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” have been put to bed…. fingers crossed for LFW next month!

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