Fashion’s Little Weight Problem
The unshakable obsession with the Size Zero.
Here’s a secret: I used to be fat. An all-rolling, all-jiggling chubster deluxe.
I was a Michelin Man, fashion-obsessed teen. You might think it’s quite an oxymoron – leafing through the latest copy of Vogue with your right hand, while chomping the Big Mac in your left. I didn’t feel unhealthy or unhappy – I could even do the splits (all three ways – take that Darcy Bussell).
This summer, a couple of friends and I were at Milan fashion Week, and it felt like the aliens had landed. These girls stomping the streets in their thick strapped Prada heels, and offensively skinny jeans were like another species. One look a these models made the fat teenager inside me want to weep. How do they do it? Is it natural? Are they happy?
Fashion is about aspiration, and these women’s ‘look’ is being sold to us as much as the clothes on their backs. But why? For the first time, in Milan, I felt truly uncomfortable at the size of some the models. I’m not denying their astonishing beauty but someone just needs to tell them to eat a fucking burger. Please.
You may be thinking this debate is old, but it’s actually an increasingly serious issue that has wrongly fallen out of the limelight. 10 years ago the weight of the average catwalk model was 8% lower than that of the average woman on the street. In 2012, the average catwalk model is 25% lighter. How can these designers appeal to the woman who is actually buying their garments when they’ll have to shed a quarter of their body weight to fasten the zip?
Loads of designers promote body beautiful campaigns. High fashion labels are doing lines for Evans, Matalan and Tesco – clothes in the range of size 14 to size 32. But the real problem is in the high fashion world of the catwalk – the world that should be leading the way.
Maybe this is the fat girl inside me talking. Maybe I wish I could fit into a custom Dior number straight off the runway. But realistically, I’d rather go a size up and finish my chips. The worry is whether the fashion industry will ever feel the same.