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​It’s time to think twice about the negative body images promoted by DUCFS

Being bold is brave

DUCFS’s achievements have been extraordinary: the show raised £150,000 in 2019 for the Environment Justice Foundation, and it is a testament to the enormous efforts year on year of the entire creative that the enterprise continues to raise huge sums.

The fashion show has, however, not yet managed to break the mould with regard to the body image it presents, which hitherto remains unrepresentative, unrealistic and potentially unhealthy.

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DUCFS, within a university context, has the liberty to be bold and break the boundaries. The mere reappearance of dozens of the models from previous years reflects this obstinacy for change. Currently it’s relying on its flashiness in order to impress people and that is, at best, overrated and, at worst, nothing short of dull.

Employing such a homogenous range of models is unambitious. This is not limited to ethnicity or gender identity; it firmly includes body shape and type. The range of body types of the models for 2020 is depressingly reminiscent of a catwalk in the early noughties. This is disappointing considering that their first call for models on Facebook in October read: "We welcome everyone to audition regardless of body type, ethnicity or gender identity."

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Our generation has suffered the consequences of the media’s influence on societal beauty standards. We are all responsible for waking up to the reality of eating disorders and promoting healthier lifestyles. The rumours about uni fashion show models dehydrating their bodies for as many as three consecutive nights are a far cry from any sort of healthy relationship with food and our bodies.

I defy anyone to say that watching other half-naked women and men parading around you doesn’t make one reflect on their own body. It unsettles me to think that students watching the show will feel unworthy or inadequate as a result.

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Many fashion executives take cover from industry-wide criticism under the excuse of sizing restrictions (apparently dictated by designers). Considering that college fashion shows manage to use designers who are capable of accommodating “plus” sizes, it seems to me that the far more influential uni fashion show should also be able to do this. The university setting offers the perfect opportunity to evade the real-world stipulations of the fashion industry. Instead, their insistence on mimicking the professionals (though impressive to a certain extent), is simply another excuse to pander to the archaic industry and, in doing so, DUCFS continues to ascribe to an impossible beauty standard.

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It would be unfair to just pick out DUCFS as this is an issue that extends throughout the college fashion shows; however with DUCFS being at the forefront of fashion shows in Durham, it should be paving a new way and setting an example for others to follow.

DUCFS needs to wake up and work to put on a show which dazzles, not only as a spectacle, but as a forward-thinking, ethical show which makes everyone involved (not just the models) feel a million dollars.