The Fashion Industry (Still) Has an Image Problem

Is idealised imagery a necessary part of communicating the dream of fashion? Or should brands project a more realistic image of women?

Skinny Model Backstage | Source: Kenneth Lyngaas, Campaign Against Eating Disorders

LONDON, United Kingdom — I hopped into a taxi the other morning and, as often happens with our famous London cabbies, the driver engaged me in a bit of friendly chit-chat. Invariably, this means talking about the bad weather, the traffic snarls, the origins of my accent — or, on occasion, my job.

“What line of work are you in?” he asked. I told him I worked in the fashion business and went back to busily checking my emails on my iPhone.

“Are you a designer?” he asked.

“Nope. When I said I work in the fashion business, I really mean the business of fashion,” I responded, explaining that I had started this website and worked as a consultant and did some teaching and lecturing as well.

That’s when the conversation took an unexpected turn.

“Can I ask you something?” he went on. “Why is it that you lot insist on putting clothes on models that are stick thin and 6 feet tall, when the average woman is curvy and only about 5 feet 6 inches tall?” Good question. As it turns out, he wasn’t far off. According to some quick Wikipedia research, the average woman in the UK is about 5 feet 4 inches tall (in many other countries, she is even shorter).

“And, all those advertisements, with those skinny legs flying in the air. What woman wants to see those? I can understand that blokes might get off on seeing those legs, but why would women want to see them?”

“It’s not much better for the guys,” he added. “My son keeps going to these castings for Abercrombie & Fitch, where all those young men wander around in their underpants with their muscles all rippling. He’s only five foot seven, so each time he goes, they turn him away. It’s very upsetting,” he said, explaining that his son is regularly cast in films and television, but can’t seem to crack fashion’s ideal male image.

All of a sudden, I felt like I had to defend the fashion industry and I couldn’t. “I am really not quite sure why the industry insists on doing this,” I said.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard these kinds of complaints from someone from outside the fashion industry. My sister, a paediatric endocrinologist focused on childhood obesity, attended a fashion show with me in New York once. She absolutely loves fashion and loves shoes and bags, but she could barely look at the models because she found the whole thing so revolting. “None of these women are menstruating,” she said to me frankly. “They all look so unhealthy.”

Recalling this conversation with my sister and reflecting on my chat with the cabbie, I left the taxi feeling pensive. As beautiful as fashion imagery can be, the so-called ‘dream’ that the industry projects can lead to unhealthy behaviour. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23 percent less.

Would the industry ever be able to change and step outside these ideals? I wasn’t sure.

Then, over the weekend something popped up in my Facebook feed that gave me a little hope. A friend from university, Nishi Aubin, a full-figured woman with a personality to match, posted something that caught my eye.

“Way to go H&M!” she wrote, along with a photo of two size 6 and size 10 mannequins, dressed in sexy lingerie. Apparently, H&M had introduced normal-sized (not ‘plus-sized’, as we might like to call them) mannequins in some of its stores in Sweden.

Åhléns

Mannequins at Åhléns | Photo: http://www.becka.nu

According to the Huffington Post, the photo went viral after a website called Women’s Rights News posted the photo to their Facebook page, with the comment “Store mannequins in Sweden. They look like real women. The US should invest in some of these.”

As it turns out, the image was not taken at H&M, but rather at another Swedish clothing chain called Åhléns. Regardless, the post received more than 60,000 likes, 18,000 shares and 3,000 comments, from people saying it was about time fashion reflected humanity as it really is. This overwhelming reaction seems to support the conclusions of a Cambridge University study that found women prefer brands whose advertising reflects their own identities.

Maybe there is hope for us yet.

What do you think? Is idealised fashion imagery a necessary part of communicating with (and enchanting) consumers? Or should more brands be taking Åhléns’ approach and communicating a more realistic body image?

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79 comments

  1. I agree with the mannequin portion for sure! Most of the mannequins even have to have the clothes pinned up. I still believe that tall people should be used for advertising clothes and all. I just think it’s more unique and stands out. I feel like models used to ne even thinner a couple years back. I definitely agree that very thin models do not help to communicate a healthy body image.

    –A tall Canadian girl

    Shantae Johnson from Brampton, ON, Canada
  2. First of all this is a really well written article so far from the usual article about this subject. From my point of view the cabbie really did a good question, not because is an original one but because it’s as simple as things really should be. The problem is in the communication. We grow up with the general idea that skinny and tall girls and guy with muscles are beautiful but it’s only because the Tv, the newspaper and the advertising were projecting this for years and years in all the mass media. If you start to spread images of chubby people all over in 10 years fat will be the new beauty. It’s all about our brain is not even about bodies. Congrats anyway, I loved the article

    Marco Santaniello from New York, NY, United States
  3. This is a really thought-provoking post, Imran, but I just want to spotlight one thing. What’s great about the image with the two mannequins is not that one might be considered “normal sized”, it’s the DIVERSITY.
    Here, we’re seeing the svelte size 6, aside a size 10- both looking comfortable if mannequin’s expressions are anything to go by…- and whilst one deviates more significantly from the “norm”, it’s not that fact that strikes me. What strikes me is how seeing the two together is more reflective of the diversity of our modern lives; lives where we engage, love and laugh with individuals of all heights, weights, ethnicities and age.

    That does however highlight the disconnect between fashion imagery and real life: one is a reality, the other is aspirational. And being encouraged to aspire to something ‘greater’- whatever the ideals- aspiration is at the centre of Western culture’s prescribed work ethos (whether we adhere to it, or not). We “must” always be working towards becoming “smarter”, more “skilled”, and let’s be honest, all with the intention of fundamentally becoming richer.
    As long as the model for life that we’re instilled with is centred on become ‘better’, aspiring to ‘great’ things, and creating better lives for our children, aspiration is always what will drive us- whatever the goal.

    How that responds to whether idealised fashion imagery is a necessary part of communicating with (and enchanting) consumers? It may not be necessary to communicate with potential customers, and encourage dialogue, but it seems it’s central to enchanting, and that’s not something I’m sure will change in the near-future. Pessimistic as that sounds…

    (I appreciated the way this unexpectedly punctuated my work-day… now back to being tethered to the desk/ a cup of coffee).

    Sara from London, London, United Kingdom
  4. More brands should should communicate to a diverse range of body types. Over time, experts in the fashion industry has established labels for different body types and ways to best style them which us great, but this innovation has not yet translated to the runways. This was ok years ago when only insiders of the industry were interested in fashion shows and remaining abreast of trends and new line launches. However, now that pretty much everything media focused, blogs & online fashion editorials are becoming increasingly popular to the everyday person and fashion shows are being covered to share trends to the everyday person. So, why not communicate to the everyday consumer?

    Ciera La'Shae' from Ellenwood, GA, United States
  5. I agree that a lot of models could have a bit more meat on their bones but is the media not also to blame for drawing so much attention to the issue?

    Women’s magazines are constantly printing diet related articles and judging people in the public eye for gaining/losing a little weight. Meanwhile, fashion designers are focusing on their craft and trying to design the best clothes that they can, marketing them as such so that they will look their best, turns out that’s on a slimmer person.

    I think it is forgotten that fashion is an art form. The media should be focusing on the designers, it’s the industry’s responsibility to look after the models.

    Kate from Saint Helier, 00, Jersey
  6. I’m a personal stylist and many of my clients say that they feel alienated from the fashion world because of the unrealistic images of women. They tell me that they love clothes, but feel that fashion isn’t targeted towards them because of the way it’s advertised. I often have to go through a coaxing process persuading them that there is actually something for everyone. When they realise this then they start to love fashion again, but the unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy imagery doesn’t help.

    Rosa Hoskins from London, London, United Kingdom
  7. There’s a submerged issue here. One thing we have to ask is exactly whose ideal the runway body type reflects. These ‘normal’ mannequins, you’ll notice, are extremely fit–you can see their abs! The ‘normal sized’ image they reflect is not actually “realistic” compared to most people–even ideal-body-weight people. Going ‘thinner’ than that, then, is not really a matter of being fitter, or working out more–it’s a bizarre sort of gauntness that’s prized on runways. For whom? Fashion buyers? Fashion sellers? Women? Men? It seems nobody’s interested in the unhealthy thinness required in those who walk to the ramp; it’s a pointless convention.

    Firas from Delhi, Delhi, India
  8. Alexander Lieberman told my friend once that a great fashion photograph is one in which a woman projects herself into.

    That is, the woman in the picture is the woman that she (the woman looking at the photo) wants to be.

    Fashion is a business, as this publication understands better than most.

    The fashion business does not chose those models, the market does. If the market did not choose those models, the fashion business would not use them.

    It’s easy for Dove, that does not target youth, to criticize Photoshop and the status quo, but they don’t sell Fashion, they sell the Resurrection of Fallen Beauty.

    There are two conflicting world views in the question. One in which there is assumption that Advertising is a question (is this you?) and the other which assumes that Advertising is an answer (this is you!).

    Big Brother fear mongers would have you believe that Anna Wintour & her gay mafia choose boy-like mannequins as some kind of assault on femininity, but the bottom line is the bottom line even if it has no ass at all.

    Women intrinsically trust men more than they trust women, and a gay man is the ultimate confidante because he can honestly tell a woman whether or not a dress makes her look fat without an ulterior agenda (kind favor)… or if the bangs work, or the lipstick color.

    Of course society could change the equation. In societies where straight-men control everything, the Burka is all the rage.

    Shorter curvier woman will be in Vogue when women trust a woman’s opinion more than a man’s. In other words, when Sarah Palin is elected President.

    Peter Duke from Los Angeles, CA, United States
  9. not sure that mannequin is a healthy body either.

    Kate from Closter, NJ, United States
  10. Hi, had seen the picture, and I agree, it is about time. You want to be able to recognise yourself in a model (of your own size) and feel confident in buying and subsequently wearing the outfit. And for the next generation it might be a healthier start, not having to “compete” with thin(ner) models. (the brand Dove has been doing it for some time, used normal size women in the advertisments, very refreshing, very us)

    liewke from Saint-germain-en-laye, Île-de-France, France
  11. This article made me think of the documentary ‘Picture Me’ documentary. It is very odd that the fashion industry has been able to sidestep this issue and just occasionally show off some plus-size (or even regular) models every once in a while. Not sure there is an easy solution to this but questions should be asked.

    Josh from New York, NY, United States
  12. Mass market brands catered to women’s sizes of the middle class demographic may actually do well to use average sized women mannequins.

    But when you think of high fashion brands.. the customers of high fashion may not catch on to it real quick. Lets face it.. high fashion brands don’t cater to the average woman.. and high fashion customers don’t pay the expensive prices to look/feel like the average woman.

    Jasmine from Hacienda Heights, CA, United States
  13. I love fashion and all the wonderful things about it, however when I look at these skinny models that are one meal away from withering away it disgusts me. I think what makes fashion so beautiful is that you see fashion and women and men from all walks of life that are gorgeous. I am working my way into beingthe fashion business and I want my models to be curvy and to promote healthiness. However, I would not mind women of all shapes and sizes. I would like women of all shapes and sizes that are healthy so those that may mimick these models will find it Ok to eat if too skinny and others that are unhealthy obese will get motivation to make healthier choices and hopefully being on a rippled affect that touches all women everywhere. However, other things that segregate women like height would be unexceptional in my book. So to answer the question with a blunt answer, yes fashion needs to make more changes, open your eyes to the beauty that is going unnoticed.

    Ariona Sherwood from Monroeville, PA, United States
  14. It makes better sense in the retail business to show real-sized models and mannequins wearing the brand’s clothing because women want to know how the clothing will look on their bodies. I don’t care about how a model wears an article of clothing because I know I will never look the same in it. I learned this lesson the hard way in middle school after seeing an advertisement for a bikini at H&M. I bought the bikini only to realize that I simply did not look like the model, Daria Werbowy. Afterwards I became distrustful of nearly all fashion advertising as an indicator of fit – which is not a response that any fashion brand wants to incite. Additionally, as more and more retail moves to e-commerce, it is more essential than ever to use models (and non-models) of all shapes and sizes so that the consumer can trust the image they see on the screen as a portrayal of the reality of the clothing.

    There is a way to keep the dream of fashion intact while using normal-sized models and mannequins, and that is through the clothes themselves. If the clothes are in style, they will exude a sense of social identity that the consumer will want to emulate. There is no need for the idealization of bodily beauty when the clothes themselves are truly beautiful. Fashion should be a social art, not a public health crisis, and it will take every level of the industry to disrupt the norm to create a healthier fantasy of fashion in the reality of everyday life.

    Grace from Bronx, NY, United States
  15. Fashion industry is all about looking good and the mannequins project that especially with women. But some point in time they hit menopause and then their bodies go into a spin. So my point is that the industry should project a realistic picture and the article definitely merits that realistic bodies should be projected on the runways and shop windows..

    Miles from London, London, United Kingdom
  16. The true issue here is not whether or not it is right for fashion companies to promote an insanely unheathy, boyish-looking, weird-looking type of woman. My question is WHY. Why do brands feel the need to pick one type of figure which is by no means feminine to portray a WOMENSWEAR collection? It is a total contradiction in terms of business. These companies are providing clothes to a specific target market by promoting another type of image which does not reflect the target market they chose. Considering that most women are not a uk size 6 or 8, the sizes in which the clothes are promoted are probably the ones that sell the least. The even bigger problem in this complete marketing tragedy is the fact that clothes are designed with this boyish figure in mind, and often do not fit as well if they are produced in larger sizes. I would believe such point would be obvious to companies that make of fashion their business. Apparently, it is not. I often see shorts and dresses on the high street whose proportions simply do not fit a wide range of figures (for instance, why would one produce high waisted ultra short shorts in a size 16? There is no way a size 16 woman can pull it off). Not even the range of choices provides enough variety. In other words, even if you are a size 12, you should be a size 12 with a boyish bosom-less figure to truly fit the size 12. Thankfully, this is not always the case. However, i am constantly astounded by the fact that brands nowadays truly do not show any care or concern for the variety of body shapes out there, but still persist on the one prototype.

    Sori from Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
  17. I wish more brands would do this. It doesn’t mean that all mannequins have to be sized larger or fatter. The diversity is what makes this so great and real! I’m very curious to see if their male mannequins look as natural.

    We don’t NEED the idealized imagery at all to communicate, but it’s very effective at enchanting. The idealized images tell (and sell) the story of what the buyer can become when they wear the suit/dress/accessory in question. We project ourselves onto these characters; we’ve been doing the same thing by telling stories of heroes and myths since ancient times.

    I think it’s possible to do this with average people and minimal styling, but it takes a lot more effort and care to get everything just right. In short: it takes a lot better writing to tell the story.

    Jonathan B from United States
  18. There is no doubt that the fashion industry leaves out most women. Beauty is not actually defined as what is apparent on the outside, but our society has twisted the concept of beauty to be only that. We would all benefit from a fashion industry that welcomes beauty and celebrates it in all its forms. With DailyOutfit, I do just that. I am so happy to hear you asking the same questions and wondering how to make fashion a positive force for all!

    Allison from Almere, Flevoland, Netherlands
  19. I can tell you one main reason chain stores and department stores love to sell smaller sizes-they are simply cheaper to make so they make more money. When you’re talking about thousands of units sold it can add up for these large companies. Even for off the rack designer and couture-most, if not all brands, charge the same for all sizes. So if they can promote to and sell to the smaller and mid sizes why bother with the larger sizes. God forbid they need to use 1/4 more yardage. As a large size I wouldn’t mind paying extra for a larger size. As longs as it means I can represented more in the media and stores carry my size.
    When larger chains buy a “lot” of a garments they typically get 2 extra smalls 3 smalls 3 mediums a large and (if they make it) 1 extra large. These groups are most often sold and priced as a unit. The spread the cost of making the garment out over those sizes and come up with an average. No one ever talks about this. I’m sorry but you never see a large on a sale rack. But you’ll see tons of extra smalls-because even at the sale price they make money. If it were a large they might lose money if goes to the sale rack. Just something to add to the other reasons the fashion industry lacks diversity.

    Miss B from New York, NY, United States
  20. But I think they are so thin they can’t even be counted as people which is sort of the purpose right?

    They aren’t beautiful, they aren’t much of anything.. In fact they are so unhealthy that I think they would be dangerous to be around. I honestly wouldn’t want to hang around a bunch on unmenstruating, drug addicted, smoking, narcisstic girls and steroid pumping boys.. they would be my worst nightmare.

    I think fashion and beauty are two very different things. Most models don’t represent beauty. They are just things to slap eye-liner on.

    Normal looking bodies are much more beautiful

    Domenic Bartlett-Roylance from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  21. I dont persive skinny models as beautiful,how are you going to sell a product to a “plus size” women if youre skinny?I think that curvy women also can model just as good and this thing of only having tall models somehow brainwashes normal people to belive that being curvy or being short is ugly.young girls go on diets to such a point that they risk their healths just for the sake of breaking in the industry,Im short N m a size 10 and I cant model because I dont have the look and this has killed my self esteem in the long run because it feels asif there is no hope for us.I say big up to Ahlens and to Americas next top models because what they didi is taking the fashion image to a new better level!

    Malebo from Ashburn, VA, United States
  22. I am a fashion illustrator, and also teach the subject to university students. It has always been my practice to introduce them to the “catwalk ideal” figure with a brief look at body politics – how ironic it is that historically a fuller figure was more admired because it represented good health and reproductive potential – now we idolise people who are either healthy but freakish in their proportions, or girls who are starving – photograph them in a gloomy light and you’re looking at something close to the shocking images of concentration camps or famine – why do we cling to this aesthetic? I also notice many of the new generations of students have fuller figures – will they change the fashion world, or will an older executive whisper in their ear to drop 5 kilos?? In my experience many designers are underweight themselves or are men who have absorbed this as part of the nature of fashion and then pass this on as gospel. The other, and crucial aspect is in what we laughingly call the fashion “business” – what kind of business builds itself on making its customers feel bad and unworthy – so many young girls now (and I’m not saying obesity is a good aspect of our society) are larger sizes, but walk into high street stores aiming their merchandise at them and see the wisps of tight skinny dresses designed to look marvellous on a 12 year old (or maybe even a boy dressed up in womens’ clothing for the catwalk???!!!) It is a wholly true cliche that while you can shop ruthlessly to find a size 16 that isn’t a size 12 with an extra inch somewhere, the sale rails will be sagging under the weight of the size 10′s at the end of the season … don’t they want to SELL the stuff so much effort, skill and advertising goes into? I went into one famous upmarket chain when the new season came in – everything on the rails was size 10 and 12 … in despair, I asked the assistant “I thought your brand went up to size 16?” “Oh yes” she proudly replied “but we keep that stock out the back until someone asks” I choked back a few unseemly comments and asked “why?” “Well” she smirked “it’s not really our customer profile – our customer is really a slim, fit lady”!! I did suggest that her employers might not have realised that while a size 6 person is usually happy to bellow her size across the shop, a size 16 is not – they will quietly take their excellent earnings and womanly curves to another brand – and so did I.

    Lizzie Huxtable from Staines, Surrey, United Kingdom
  23. What the cabbie may not have grasped is that there are women who find the skinny model legs highly motivating. I’m one of these women, and this doesn’t necessarily lead to unhealthy behaviour. It leads to a drive towards perfection, but that can still be a healthy and intelligently carried out drive.
    And yes, as all facets of fashion should be aspirational, and the brands aim to enchant (perfect verb) their customers, there shouldn’t be anything average about the production.

    Anabel Maldonado from Perivale, Ealing, United Kingdom
  24. I agree that some models are unrealistically skinny… But when that is said, I am surprised that no considers the great problems with obese faced by society these days. Not every body needs to be a size 6, but is equally unhealthy to be a size 10 or 12. Instead of addressing these health issues, majority of slightly overweight people attacks the fashion industry and blame it for supporting an unhealthy image. While in reality, the focus should be on health, not just on taunting skinny models… I believe that everybody would benefit from such debate!

    Maria from Skanderborg, Central Jutland, Denmark
  25. As a slim, medium height woman, working for many years in the fashion industry, I cannot help but notice that many, not all, but many, men, choose models that are far more similar in body type to adolescent boys rather than real women. One has only to look at the sorry state of male-induced female coverings all over the world to understand the fear of the power latent in a woman’s body.
    Portraying women as ass-less, breast-less, power-less and generally non-threatening seems to make some feel safer.
    As for the muscle men, it seems to me there is a bit more variety amongst men models.
    I have often thought it strange that we view the ultra tall super skinny models as the fashion norm, and those differing from this norm as the exceptions, the odd ones.
    Shouldn’t it be the reverse?

    Laura Mars from Saint-gratien, Île-de-France, France
  26. I so applaud this article because it addresses the simple fact that humanity is what it is and all the fancy ideas of aspiration to be 6ft becomes irrelevant when your genes dictate that you are 5ft.

    What the industry/media does not address is the fact that we are all different SHAPES. I have been in the business as a designer for nearly 50 years and have always focused on this fact of humanity rather than thinking that there are standard ‘boxes’ in which to fit. Even the Japanese are not made in molds and I myself, one of three sisters, am not the same shape/height as my siblings even though we came from the same factory.

    I therefore design for shape/height rather than size – and when we did our big shows in London in the late 80′s we used models with real breasts, much to the surprise and delight of many in the audience.

    This is what needs to be portrayed – the real femininity – not some strange alien look that is uniquely tall and out of almost everyone’s potential of being able to emulate.

    As for the often quoted comment that a model or mannequin is ‘plus size’ when in fact it is still below average size. Utterly ridiculous.

    Patricia Lester from Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil, United Kingdom
  27. When we opened Rent frock Repeat we used women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and age and we received an overwhelming response from our members and the media applauding us for doing so. We didn’t do it for one campaign or use “models” for all our marketing and then add “normal/average” women as an additional ploy to get people to talk. Guess what, business is great and our members say they feel included and embraced and are even more proud about how they look. We will be glad when a woman’s size isn’t a topic of discussion and we simply talk about the clothes (that is what fashion is all about).

    Lisa from Scarborough, ON, Canada
  28. I agree on everything this article says. I am tall and skinny but I don’t really do any sports so I have curves and my face is not so defined like some models. And because of that, I was denied in already 6 models agencies and that makes me so mad! Like I’m “fat” for them because I am not bones skinny. I think it’s time for fashion industry to make something about it. I am not going to change to go after my dream, because it’s not that worth it be that skinny. Because it’s ugly! People outside fashion industry hate it. And I hate it, too. It takes away all he beauty in women’s body..

    Catherine from São Paulo, Brazil
  29. Surely the problem is not just with the images of fashion, but in the language that we use to talk about the bodies of women. All you need to do is read the language used within this article and in the comments to see that this is the major issue.

    Within the article itself the connotations for thin and skinny women are that they will be potentially seen as unhealthy, unable to menstruate or even drug addicted (according to one commenter). How are these fair comments to be read by women who are naturally thin? Or how would a hard working model feel about being grouped in with these types of assumptions?

    According to some comments, it also seems that if you are a woman who has a slim and less than curvaceous figure then this should also be something to be ashamed of? Should a woman be made to feel like less of a woman for having small breasts or no hips?

    So is it left to the more curvaceous women in our society to be the only “real” and “normal” women? Are we saying that this is the ideal and that women who don’t have there curves should be made to feel inferior?

    Surely the message should be that there are many forms of beauty and that this should ideally be represented better in all forms of imagery in the media? But until we reach that point we do all women a disservice if we only insult and generalise about every different body shape and size.

    Sophie McGinn from United Kingdom
  30. “Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23 percent less”. – Just wondering, is it anything to do with the fact that obesity levels today are much higher than 20 years ago (thus rendering the average woman heavier?!)
    As for the (very important) last question, “Is idealised fashion imagery a necessary part of communicating with (and enchanting) consumers?” – I firmly believe that idealised fashion imagery is indeed a necessary part of enchanting customers (remember Chanel saying something along the lines of “these girls will make my customers dream and my dresses sell”?) What interests me more is why is it this taut, gaunt, long body that happens to signify perfection? Why is it not, say, a perfectly muscular body (for women), nor a perfectly round body, nor a perfectly square body – something equally unnatural (because clearly the modern beauty ideal all about the triumph of human will over nature), difficult-but-not-impossible-if-you-work-hard-enough to obtain as a thin body?

    Jana from United Kingdom
  31. The “business of design” like the skinny body because there are no fitting issues like a round bust, or hips, or butt, or stomach, or thicker upper arms. AND, there’s lots less fabric waste on this “skinny” garment. The mannequins are displaying stretch fabrics so they’re easier to fit. The market simply ignores this issue of fit for real bodies. Lotsa luck if you aren’t 5’8″, hour-glass shape, less than 125 pounds. I have a blog discussing “fit” at http://www.fitorfaux.com

    Marilynn Barber from United States
  32. This conversation has been going on since 1970. Clothes look better on bony shoulders, no boobs, no hips. Finito. Yes, it is unfair but until a real designer comes along who is not celebrity-obsessed, who is willing to truly sculpt, address the female body as an artist would, women have to shrug off the pre-pubescent model syndrome. Photoshop is also a culprit. Sad.

    judy blotnick from New York, NY, United States
  33. It is the way it is because it sells. No? Taxi driver should ask people , why do they buy :)) If they wouldnt approve on skinny and tall models (buy purchasing goods) – there wouldnt be skinny models.

    And look at Gisele, Miranda Kerr, Nalalia Vodyanova, even skinny Kate Moss – all of them have cute healthy kids, whats the problem with their health?

    Kate from Kadoma, Ōsaka, Japan
  34. Of course they should reflect (mannequins) a normal body image.But I would like point to another direction (fashion ind. image).Why, would one think, is the reason that fashion”bloggs have so many followers.I dont think it is beacause people “dont know what to buy, or what is the lates trend”,it is for instance far less for a woman,intimidating and recognizeable for someone who reads a blog to look at what that person is wearing and finding the outfit nice and thinking” hey, that jumper,shoe or trouser or that dress, fits her, and she is not a model , yea, I’ll buy that!I belive all the fashion-bloogs have changed how women shop, what and who the identitefy with.The models, some used still in big campagnes /magazines(for me)dont make me impressed, anymore.I get far much more influenced if i see a an actor fronting the ad, or a totally different person who is not fashion, wearing that celine shirt”,.As for the rtw, and catwalks, I sadly think that fashion will always want to show their collections on thin people,…xxx

    sandra from Västra Götalands Län, Sweden
  35. Should fashion be capped at a certain price? Should it be accessible and relevant to all? Start nitpicking the facets of the industry and you find that none of it is realistic — the image, the cost, the ideals — it’s all an illusion. Fashion is an aspirational fantasy. I don’t necessarily endorse eating disorders, and believe caution should be taken when unintentionally conveying this message to young girls, but nevertheless the industry is fundamentally built on image. And I don’t think that should be compromised for “realism”.

    Cindy from New York, NY, United States
  36. The awareness and change that can come about after a single picture hits the social networks is fantastic. I too hope to see better representation in the choice of models.
    And, I am, as a “fashion business” professional hoping and waiting for the right picture of the rampant exploitation of garment workers. Only consumer awareness can change that too.

    Leah Barrett from Toronto, ON, Canada
  37. A friend’s reaction to this article:

    Yeah. It’s too bad this article doesn’t offer anything new to the discussion. It’s what everyone already knows. I read the entire article for the same reason people check out circus freak tents. It’s for that “Oh look how freakish this situation is!” feeling with not much deeper information. The writer here is the editor and didn’t discuss any research as to what drives corporate advertising regarding shopping and imagery of the female body.

    I thought of studies that show most people of all colors have a negative reaction to the image of a person of color and a more positive reaction when presented with an image of a person of lighter skin. We can say we don’t want to be racist but then we tend to respond more positively to images featuring people of lighter skin. How did we all get this way? Goes back hundreds of years, right. It’s going to take another couple hundred to undo the side effects of western European domination of the world.

    So, with regard to women, if marketing studies show that women respond more positively to the image of a thin, tall and long legged female form, who’s going to risk their investments in products by using another image for advertising purposes for any other reason besides increased sales and profits? How did women get that way?

    I think it has to do partially with aspirational lifestyle branding and exclusivity. To create this, you offer up an image that most women cannot easily become. The tall, white and thin club is the one of the worlds most visibly exclusive by nature so it’s easiest to associate it with an aspirational brand. To be close to 6 feet tall and slim puts you in a smaller club than the club of women who are that height and curvy. Toss in a bunch of other strange factors and things go from what they looked liked 20 years ago to what they look like today. I’d like to have a journalist examine more of these factors in depth.

    Maybe it’s the runway show in particular that has made things get really out of hand. Think of the visuals and logistics of what looks best trotting down the runway in person and in photographic images. Height and slimness is a generally a visually pleasing aesthetic. But for a woman to be close to 6 feet tall AND slim, it’s easy to get into the underweight category. I think it’s unfortunate but driven by a range of factors that add up to disaster. And for whom?

    It’s also interesting to consider what kind of women are typically affected by eating disorders related to this beauty trend. I’m willing to bet that they are mostly white women. The closer you are to being able to be in the exclusive club, the higher the chances for an eating disorder. Are image based eating disorders potential issues in Asia, the middle east or among afro or “ethnic” populations around the world? I’d suspect that most of the women with any disposable income around the world aspire to be part of the euro-beauty club through consumer spending but not through dieting or starving themselves. They just want to be as light/white as possible with blonde or straight hair.

    So the question is how do you motivate white women around the world who are already in the top 5% of the aspirational club? Provide them with an image of female beauty very few can actually become to keep them hooked on a never ending aspiration. That NYT article about model hunting in small villages in Brazil comes to mind. It’s about finding something rare because rareness has value as long its the kind that can be place on the top of the rareness pyramid.

    Caroline from Locust Grove, VA, United States
  38. Also worth noting that being a size 10 or 12 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy. Look at Michelle Obama.

    Caroline from Locust Grove, VA, United States
  39. I am so pleased with this post. This is an issue that has been discussed before but very little has been done to truly address it. There has been some attempt to protect models like with the Israeli lawmakers banning underweight models. But more needs to be done within the industry; designers, magazines, retailers, etc. Åhléns’ use of healthier appearing mannequins rather than the lithe version, is a start.

    The consumer’s eye needs to be exposed more to a true representation of the average female body. I believe the more we look at the uber thin models, the more we accept it as a norm, and promoting the idea that anyone that does not fit in that ideal, is abnormal. If more industry professionals start to think out of the box, they could help foster a healthier physique, as well as mind set of young women.

    I believe the use of very thin models on the runway derived from a need to present collections with an artistic theme. When you look at artists such as Picasso who wanted to create something abstract that would shock and provoke art enthusiasts; the same can be said for designers and their models or muses. They want to put their clothes on a canvas like no other, something shocking or unbelievable. Unfortunately, it’s melded into a notion of how the ideal woman should appear.

    Mignon from Phoenix, AZ, United States
  40. From my leg of the elephant, the pattern cutting angle, clothes shown on the ultra skinny are simply easier to fit to any skinny model sent out by the agency — they are like hangers. Plus designers invariably do not want to elevate the importance of the complexity of fit and then have to pay drapers and cutters more and worse, have to educate the consumer about what a good fit is, slowing sales. On top of that, we’re not talking people here, we’re talking brands so pitching to the easiest to fit is in their best interest. And buyer-wise, retail therapy usually involves fantasy not functionality so that’s yet another reason the practice goes on. But consumer demand changes all and this change to clothes that fit and diverse shapes is long, long overdue. Do your homework, shoppers, study fit and expect it for yourself with every purchase. Thanks, Imran!

    Sandra Ericson, Center for Pattern Design from Belmont, CA, United States
  41. This has obviously touched a nerve with lots of women. I am presently studying for an MA in Fashion and the Environment as a mature student at the London College of Fashion. My dissertation is partly about this subject, and the lack of diversity in the market due to what the media decides it will pump out as aspirational. Reading the comments here and the feedback I am getting through the interviews I am holding at present. It really is time for change!. There needs to be diversity to reflect the population including age. Women over 50 hold 80% of the nations wealth and make up one third of the population, yet advertising targets the 20 something age group. The 55-64 year olds have the highest disposable income of any age group, yet are completely ignored. Is it any wonder that the Dove campaign (2004) increased their sales by 600% in six months because they spoke to real women? The disdain I am witnessing from women who are tired of seeing ‘photoshopped’ images which impact women’s self image. In some cases causing the proliferation of eating disorders and a collective ‘body dissatisfaction’. Fashion should make us all happy and be all inclusive, embracing shape, size. colour and age. I hope to change that, when designing a capsule collection for final submission, later this year. The feedback here has been brilliant and will certainly help feed into the design process.

    Vivienne Austin from Barrow, Cumbria, United Kingdom
  42. I think there’s quite a difference between showing a normal-sized mannequin in-store and sending a normal-sized woman down the runway. Fashion shows present a vision of the designer, and in the shows, their vision is not always meant to cater to the ‘average woman’, whether in terms of height, weight, shape or even budget.

    Christina from United Kingdom
  43. soon fashion shows will not require models, only hangers!

    gwen from San Francisco, CA, United States
  44. I think there’s a huge difference between high fashion and chain stores. If runway models reflected “normal” women, it simply would not showcase the designer’s vision as effectively. In editorials, the industry may benefit from some menial leeway in the body size category, however I think the case remains largely the same. The visions of the fashion editors, designers, and photographers would not be nearly as effectively conveyed in women of a larger body size. High fashion, in my eyes, is not meant to target a wide demographic; only a small portion of the population has the exposure or the financial means to support such a niche in the fashion world. Instead, high fashion is meant to offer a whimsical, dream-like, innovative approach to clothing. It is inspiration, it is artwork, it is the masterpiece work produced by various visionaries. However, mannequins in brick-and-mortar retail establishments would largely benefit from exhibiting their clothing on a more accurate portrayal of a woman. They are not conveying an individual’s vision, rather they are simply trying to sell. And empathy, in lieu of sex, sells commercially.

    Marissa from Mill Valley, CA, United States
  45. The mistaken assumption here is that this is at all about women. It is not. It is about the clothes. It is about the woman. Or the man. When you look at an image of fashion, the goal is to be able to see oneself in the scene, wearing the clothes. To this end, we diminish the model to the greatest functional extreme possible. The subject, the focus of the imagery is always the wardrobe, never the hanger.

    Frank Illes; Photographer from Las Vegas, NV, United States
  46. It’s a tricky subject with no one solution. Many people below have already mentioned several aspects to consider that bring us to both sides of the spectrum on the argument. On the one hand, should people who are known by the public as creators etc. be able to share their creations with the public without any responsibility over what images and ideas they are releasing? For instance, by pushing anorexic models in beautiful clothes, should designers consider the message they are sending and the impact that they will have on the young women that look up to them? Should editors choose to highlight the positive aspects of using models of varying weights in their magazines? Or is it rather the opposite, that we, as part of the mass population consuming these images, ideals and objects, have a responsibility over ourselves in what we choose to believe as right or wrong for our own lives. You can enjoy an image of a slim model who’s ten times your height whilst understanding that a) it isn’t real (check out Cameron Russell on TEDtalks) and b) you are the one that is making the decision about what constitutes an ideal image and how you feel about yourself. It is easy to implicate the Fashion Industry for a populace with bad self-esteem but perhaps there are other things at play in our society that have brought us to this point. Or maybe it is a bit of both. It’s a tough call, and I certainly don’t think we should stop the dialogue on this debate as it will hopeful lead us to progress in the best way possible.

    Genevieve from Toronto, ON, Canada
  47. As a makeup artist in NY, I’ve noticed the models – and the sample sizes – get much skinnier since the supermodel days. I hope the pendulum will swing back but I don’t have much hope – skinny may be the “steroids” of fashion, an escalation of an extreme standard that just keeps going. I do see the need to have a uniform size, but when the girls are so obviously unhealthy it’s not really an ideal anymore, is it?

    I wrote an article on why models are so skinny for my blog in 2011 (http://wildbeautyworld.com/2011/09/08/inside-beauty-7-reasons-why-models-are-so-skinny/) and it’s still the most popular post from searches…what are those searches? “Why are models so skinny?” and “How do models get so skinny?”. Apparently the topic is huge amongst both people who love fashion and those who look on in bewilderment.

    Meli Pennington from New York, NY, United States
  48. Thank you for bringing this up!

    Ksenia N. from New York, NY, United States
  49. Maybe fashion show sizing needs to change?

    Matt from Honolulu, HI, United States
  50. One of the reasons used by the industry over the years has been that the garments hang better on the javelin thin models.I always believed that a skilled designer can make the clothing work on an “as they say”average body. It will likely take some of the major houses to lead the way. Kudos to the shop in Sweden, the wise Cabbie and most importantly,your sister for spotting the danger.

    james from United States
  51. I work for a fashion designer, when the show model castings are done (by a man) and approved by the designer (a man) and the stylist (also a man) – the women in the team, we look at each other in horror as we watch really young and sometimes painfully thin young women (lets please stop referring to them as girls) being selected for the show. If we dare to pass comment on this, we are quickly dismissed as old feminists, or jealous… its really depressing….

    mpla from London, London, United Kingdom
  52. Obesity is the real problem of our age, and the reason that the difference between models & the general population has widened. I dislike the criticisms of those of us who are naturally skinny or small framed or take care to stay in the healthy weight range. It feels as though we are being punished to make the overweight feel better about themselves. Models are often thin because they are very young (younger than they used to be) and this could be addressed by an age restriction, say 17 or 18. Also remember fashion is selling us an ideal: I’m not 20 or five foot ten tall, but I do love to see clothes displayed on ideal proportions, I’m just realistic enough to know what mine are & what will suit me. If I want to see ordinary people I can look in the street, in Vogue I want stunning beauty.

    Beth from London, London, United Kingdom
  53. At present, slimmer models make clothes look more fairytale like and give them a dream. It’s always better to dream and aspire, rather than be contented with what you’ve got. I think the mannequins and thin models sell a dream to women – usually a dream that they can be lithe and willowy like a forest sprite – light of gait, and dainty. Purchasing and wearing the items found on these mannequins or as seen on these willowy models take them one step closer to their dream.
    and elevate them to a new state simply by donning those clothes.

    Think it’s more important and sustainable to educate customers to see fashion for what it is increasingly becoming – an art form open to interpretation. This not only discourages harmful dieting to conform with the shapes presented, but challenges them to take on fashion in their own way.

    If normal mannequins were used, then life would simply be ordinary – what’s the point in living then?

    Victoria from Singapore, Singapore (general), Singapore
  54. I’m tired of this “real women” vs “fake women” dichotomy, as if thin/skinny/lithe women somehow don’t count. Boo hoo, some women are skinnier than you and look better in clothes, ergo they are fake?? Reeks of jealousy, or why else would you put some group of women down just because they occupy a place high on the social ladder? Say what you will about clothing models needing to reflect the average size, fine, whatever — but calling a woman fake because she has no hips or breasts is pretty damn revolting.

    n from United States
  55. I would love to know why is it socially acceptable for people to make negative comments about thin women. Some of the comments I read on here were disgusting. Why is being a size 10 normal? I have been a non dieting size 2 my whole life and I am just as normal as a “curvy” woman i know.
    Obviously many models diet, but what about all the ones who are naturally that size. Lets remember that a lot of models are teenagers!! Is their something disgusting about the bodies god gave them? Let me tell you I grew up an african american woman with no butt, breasts, or hips and it wasn’t a walk in the park. I was happy there were women I could look up to who weren’t considered “feminine” because their body is more boyish.

    As for the fashion industry perspective, it really is a business decision and people shouldn’t take it so personally. Its not a slight against anyone specifically that they are not using five four, size ten models. With half of the crazy outfits that walk down the runway they need long, thin limbs to make them look reasonable. I am all for bigger size mannequins if thats what people want. But is that what people really want? The fashion industry is in the business of making money and if their advertising were resulting in low sales, trust me things would change very quickly. There are billions of dollars on the line. The truth ,if no one wants to say, is society as a whole aspires to be tall, rich, young, thin and beautiful. Doesn’t mean other types aren’t beautiful. People shouldn’t take it so personally. We all aren’t meant for everything.

    a skinny girl from Brooklyn, NY, United States
  56. I read that this wasn’t H&M. When I did see this, though I thought it was refreshing. They look normal. I wonder if mannequins and models looked slightly more average in size, how things would change. From the way we think our clothes are supposed to fit us, to the all-or-nothing rooting for the obese or sickly thin war.

    Teresa from Saint Louis, MO, United States
  57. And I do believe things’ll change (in a good way). They always do.

    Teresa from Saint Louis, MO, United States
  58. 2 words. Sample size. Make the samples bigger and then they will need bigger models.

    Brian from Vancouver, BC, Canada
  59. designers should be representing all shapes and sizes, short n tall. it’s nothing new, but the industry has done much about it even to this day.

    izzy low from San Jose, CA, United States
  60. Further delving into the aspects that create fashion… Heads up, pinched shoes, lameness, women inability or crippling
    Reflections also the fashionable indifference to real people sleeping on the streets in downtown LA. Blind vision creates fashion too. Furthermore I say free education will free fashion!

    Kathryn New from Los Angeles, CA, United States
  61. Strong,healthy, and fit are the new skinny .
    As a designer of womens sport apperal -
    I personally prefer to convey a true vision of strength
    in all women.

    PN from United Kingdom
  62. As a model, not fashion as my legs are too muscular. with a growing number of large people all around the world It is important to display a healthy image which is easily a size 6-8.
    obviously if your 6″2 a size 6 is not healthy but for the average height it is.

    I am 5″9 and a size 6-8 and i find it easy to stay this size.
    The only reason the “norm” has become a size 14 is because every one spends too much money eating constantly when it is not needed. There is no control among the general public.

    With out writing a whole document on this. I can firstly say that with the fashion industry beginning to look at sustainability. we would not waist so much fabric if only making clothes for reasonable sized women – therefore clothing should cost more for larger people as it costs more to produce.

    With the food shortage in the world becoming more significant the general public need to begin to understand they cant have their cake and eat it. (that also applies to any one who thought the budget 2013 was bad for the UK)

    I am not among the tiny models I am just fed up with every one having ago at them.

    Clothing should come in a wider range of womanly shapes as i can not find any clothing under £200 that fits me, as my waist is 25 inches (size 6) but my hips and chest are 35 inches (Size 10-12).

    These days we have enough larger women on tv. I know many high fashion models, and they eat a lot! They are just very healthy and do not fill their bodies with awful foods therefore stay at a healthy beautiful weight

    Victoria from London, London, United Kingdom
  63. I agree that we should be represented more fairly in the clothing industry. I am 5’5″ and about 122 pounds. Working on less. I am 32 and have a sevean year old. I am constantly struggling with the way I look and want longer model legs. I have a booty and muscular legs. I’m pretty sure I’m not getting any taller. I feel I wouldn’t struggle with my image, even though I know better, if I didn’t see the super skinny girls in magazines and other types of media. We all know better, but the “perfect” image is shoved in our faces constantly! Why does it all have to be perfect when no one is that way, even the air brushed models. But we STILL try to go for that image.

    Darbi from Marietta, GA, United States
  64. If a size zero model wears a dress, I, as a size 12 automatically eliminate it as a potential purchase on the grounds that the cut won’t suit me. It is very confusing. I loved Victoria Beckham’s show, but I cannot see how the close will translate to women of my size.

    Maria Lourens from Coventry, Coventry, United Kingdom
  65. Would it be acceptable to have a caption under a photo with “fat model backstage” if there was a girl with a flabby stomach and large butt?

    I have no idea who the model in the photo is, if she gave permission for this photo or has any knowledge of this photo. What I do know is that I have a daughter who is skinny and has always been skinny and she is fed up with people who think it’s ok to insult her size but consider it rude if the same is said about a “fat” person. What’s with the double standards?

    If the current system of model size and editorials wasn’t successful and the designers, stores and magazines weren’t making money then they would change it. As the saying goes; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Who is born with a perfectly proportioned body? Teach your children to love what they are born with. Teach them to work with what they are born with, both male and female.

    Fashion is ideas, not rules. Use those ideas to create what you want for yourself.

    Mirna from Manly, New South Wales, Australia
  66. Unfortunately, too many people think fashion and the media have a responsability to represent “healthy” body images. The most dangerous part about this argument is that we are attributing health to appearence. Regardless of how anyone may look, their state of health can not and should not be attributed by anyone other than a doctor. Fashion and health should not be mixed up!!

    P.K. from Richelieu, QC, Canada
  67. This argument has been going on my whole life and little to nothing has been done about it by the fashion industry. As a survivor of anorexia in my twenties and one who is very familiar with eating disorder issues, I will note that the disparity between average models’ weights and an average women’s weight is a false statistic significantly skewed by the rise in obesity. I was just hitting puberty in the late eighties and, let me tell you, the issues of Vogue I so eagerly devoured were full of impossibly thin women – worse than now- just look back. The “ideal” in fashion, particularly runway, has varied a bit over the last thirty or so years, through the “robust” era of the first supermodels, to the advent of the waif, then a return to relative normality – but it has always been an unrealistic ideal best achieved by teenagers with a naturally narrow body structure.
    I have never seen a concerted effort by the fashion business to show clothing on differing body types, or even different kinds of beauty. Even ethnically different models seem to be often booked for shock value rather than any genuine desire to show the beauty of diversity.
    Personally, I think this shows a remarkable lack of imagination more than anything else. How exciting would a true range of beauties be!
    Of course, this would take courage, a willingness to deviate from the status quo, a willingness to risk the wrath or worse disdain of editors, and, as well, an ability to truly cut clothes well.
    I want to be clear that I’m a fan of fashion and a purchaser of it, and that as a healthy, fit, albeit petite woman I have no problem finding flattering clothes. I see women every day who look great in clothes and also look heathy and relatable. Look at great street style, or the style of so many actresses, most of whom are way below runway height. It would be amazing to see any designer or better yet media leader step out and support this. There must be a reason that actresses have supplanted models on magazine covers.

    Elizabeth from Los Angeles, CA, United States
  68. The fashion industry WILL ALWAYS have an image problem.
    Why choose skinny, frail and gaunt models? It’s simple; the girls strutting the runway aren’t expected to have a personality and give life to what they are wearing. The girls are basically mannequins moving (no wonder everyone fell in love with Cara Delevingne who is an explosion of energy on and off the catwalk).

    Elenore from Inveruno, Lombardy, Italy
  69. What is more endearing to asked a woman that “what do you see in your reflection that fashion will enhance or alter in provoking a day of surprise and confidence, then ending with contentment and bliss?” Does fashion really have an image problem? Or does fashion create the image solution that women desire to create for themselves? To think is our blessing to understand and women do understand fashion in all its coveted and multifaceted thinkers who are the designers of the cloth that is manipulated for every season and for every unique occasion in a girl’s or woman’s journey towards self-understanding. Having contact with strong and smart women, who do share or who do not express themselves, creates an atmosphere of sensitivity especially when it comes fashion. Clothes can make you feel wonderful and can convey a sincerity if one feels sad; I do not mean to be overly simplistic and yet I want to hit the mark of beauty—can we target the image of what is about a women’s prerogative which could provoke a singularly and unique look that could last a day or a lifetime of creating a certainty of one’s fashion persona? To me, sometimes the business side of fashion could cloud what should be left to the “eye of the beholder.”

    Joseph Nieves from Stafford, VA, United States
  70. Fashion is an amazing, inspirational and creative industry but it lacks the ability to change with consumer opinions and for the greater good of society. Due to this problem of a perceived natural “perfection” I started a blog called Hello Perfect. Hello Perfect is working to re-define society’s definition of perfection and advocates that the challenge in life is not to become perfect, it’s accepting that you already are.

    Hello Perfect is inspiring people with the confidence they need to accomplish their dreams. We are asking everyone to join our Perfect Is Movement by telling us their definition of perfect! We would love for The Business of Fashion to join us in advocating a unique perfection to help women and men of all ages love themselves so they can achieve their highest potential.

    http://www.HelloPerfect.com

    perfectly yours,
    Alexa

    Alexa Carlin from Orlando, FL, United States
  71. ” According to the National Eating Disorders Association, twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23 percent less.”

    I would like to have included in this article what the average womans weight was 20 years ago compared to the average woman today? Perhaps its not the models getting thiner but it is the average woman getting larger?

    Also as a related side note, I happen to know several TOP runway models from 20 and 30 years ago, and can attest to these women ( who are still the same sample size) being healthy eaters (and menstruating as several have children). the trouble is that their genetic positioning, which has kept them this tall thin sample size, is not common.

    With the influx of digital media, and the consumers desire for ever new visual stimuli, the fashion industry has felt a need to change models on a seemingly seasonal basis. In years past (i’m talking late 70′s to mid 90′s when my friends worked) a designer could use the same model to open/close his shows for sometimes up to 10-15 years, this is just not so today. Now a designer (or more so their desire to maintain the consumers ever more fickle attention span) demands that models change regularly in order to keep the brands image exciting. This constant turn around of models means that the few women who are healthy and model size are still used as often, but along side that there are a lot of single use models that strive to continue their careers and do so with the aide of eating disorders and unhealthy life styles, which tarnishes this industry. But is this the designers fault, the models fault, medias fault, or the consumer for wanting constant renewal in an industry that in reality does not change nearly as fast as everyone perceives it to? perhaps they are all to blame?

    Because of this the few women that actually are tall and healthy and happen to be thin ( Lagerfeld in 1982 demanded a 34 inch hip on all his chanel models in one particular show my friend did and she is 6 foot tall) are also given the image that they are unhealthy when this is just not so for the true professional models.

    Russell from London, London, United Kingdom
  72. More brands should definitely be taking a realistic approach and communicating a more realistic body image. In almost all cases (not all), the fashion industry promotes an aesthetic that is simply unattainable for the average woman, and too many women literally die trying.

    April Harris from Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
  73. It’s pure design laziness – it’s very easy to design in 2 dimensions – you can come up with all kinds of prettiness. As soon as you start designing in a flattering way for real women (i.e buxom, curvy) it’s 5 times harder to get it right. Or perhaps more specifically, it’s much harder to design something that will work for all the variants of curvy when you want to produce 1000s of the items. So, the only way the 2-D designs will look good is on 2-D models and mannequins.

    Penelope Else from Beckenham, Bromley, United Kingdom
  74. I have heard the theory that the models changed in the 60′s, when many gay men starting designing clothes. Gay men are not attracted to hips, breasts, or butts, so they made regular women look like what they perceived as beautiful- tall thin men.
    Even though most men like actual curves, these beauty images have become so ingrained in us that they too now like this straight shapeless woman, not realizing it is more masculine. It just goes to show you that if you expose society to these images over and over, we start buying into these perceptions ourselves, not realizing we are being manipulated.

    I also think that current fashion actually do look better on someone without curves. Women no longer have the option to wear fuller skirts like in the 50′s. Your butt needs to be flat and hips non-existent to wear skinny flat front jeans. These are styles once reserved only for men.

    Also, many centuries ago it was stylish to be fat, because it meant you were rich, not poor. Today we have so much fast food, the real challenge is to remain skinny in the face of all this bad food. So that would go back to trying to attain the unattainable.

    Thinking girl from Dallas, TX, United States
  75. If we start including plus sized models, and exclude the smaller sized models; this is not balance.

    ALL sizes need to be represented and shown in fashion. There are some girls who are truly healthy at a size 2, just like there are some girls who are truly healthy at a size 18.

    We need to start promoting people to be a healthy version of themselves: not what society THINKS they should look like to be healthy.

    Keri Atkins from Portland, OR, United States
  76. I think that the fashion industry has two enormous problems, only one of which was addressed in this article. The first, as the author discussed, is that the models are underage and unhealthy. It is not simply that they are a minority body type – “tall and slim” models wouldn’t be a problem if the industry used healthy adult women who embodied this standard. The real issue is that the industry uses extremely tall, often clinically anorexic, underage girls. This is not merely off-putting and alienating. It is an active, aggressive rejection of the female body. It feels hostile, particularly since women have been voicing their concerns about it for so long, and it is a conscious choice that the industry makes, year after year. So, that.

    The second major problem, which was not addressed here, is that for many years now, the vast majority of “fashion” – be it on the runway or in magazines – is very, very ugly. Just straight-up ugly. So ugly it makes your eyes bleed. As an artist myself, I get that fashion is an art form of sorts. But even as an art form, so much of what gets shoved at us by the industry just sucks. It’s not edgy, it’s not cool, it’s not unique, it’s not street – it’s not interesting. The clothes are stupid and the models look stupid in them. There is an aesthetic disconnect, because most women want to look good when they leave the house. “Good” may be subjectively defined, of course, but most women do not want to look like a crazy cat lady who got dressed in her closet. Nor do they want to look like their grandmother. Most designers offer us some variation on one or the other.

    So, I would say that the fashion industry has an image problem, yes, but it goes deeper than that. No amount of “rebranding” is going to help if designers don’t do something about their craptastic collections.

    Leigh from Brookline, MA, United States
  77. Personally I feel that the industries idealised imagery will have to change if it wants to remain a successful industry it will have to promote a realistic body size as the ideal

    Isabelle Clews from Walsall, Walsall, United Kingdom