About skinny people and the fashion industry

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There`s always a lot of complaining that the reason we have so much anorexia, low self esteem, etc etc (you know the drill) in the world is because of the image of the “perfect woman”, created by the fashion industry. You know her. The really skinny girl, with the big eyes and the smooth skin and the long legs. But most of all that flat stomach (preferably combined with big boobs). You know the type of girl, the one that almost no girl ever actually is by nature. They say that we have the fashion industry to blame for all of this, that it`s the fashion industry who decided this was going to be the norm from now on, and then forced everything and everyone to change.

And sure, the fashion industry is bound to have a more-than-usual amount of say in this.

BUT.

But.

Did anyone ever consider the possibility that the fashion industry responded to a growing image in the general culture of thin = beautiful? Maybe it`s the general zeitgeist, and the fashion industry acted on it? Just like how curvier people were considered the most beautiful in the Roman empire, and slightly fatter people were considered the most beautiful in later eras. What`s considered beautiful changes every era, and this is ours.

It`s true that quite possible the effect is more extreme now, thanks to modern media and, yes, the fashion industry. It`s more of a vicious circle now. For some reason I don`t know, thin people were starting to be seen as the cultural norm. The fashion industry reacted to this new trend, as the fashion industry always does, picking up new trends, even trying to predict them, and acting on it. And through that they reinforced this new image, by spreading it around all over the world, turning it into a vicious circle, dragging everything and everyone deeper with them.

But doesn`t the fashion industry start the trends in the first place?

Partially, yes. Sure, the fashion industry cooks up a whole lot of things all by themselves. They`re designers, it`s in their blood. But it wouldn`t be so popular if what they designed didn`t for some reason resonate with the public at large. And what about the media? The media sure as hell has a very large part to play in this. But so do the artists of the world, the singers, the actors and actresses, and even the mothers and friends of the world. I can`t even count how often my own mother has told me and my brother and sister that we`ve “obviously gained weight” and should be trying to lose it again. Never mind that she`s obese herself.

It gets worse: before you keep blaming everyone else, I know that attempts have been made to create magazines with plus size models. I know that almost none of these have survived, because they weren`t being bought.

Here`s how it works: basically, the fashion industry scouts the public for new trends, new colours, etcetera. They make a big book out of it, give it to the designers, who use the upcoming trends  to create new fashion, which in turn gets picked up by the public. And so the circle goes round and round and round.

So who`s to blame? I think we should stop trying to pinpoint someone specific. In the end, we`re all to blame. You can`t just take one part of a circle and put all the blame on that part. We all carry the responsibility of getting into this mess, and likewise we all carry the responsibility to change it again.

Granted, I have been seeing quite a lot of change. There`s more and more focus on “normal” women`s bodies (though the word “normal” seems to be quite flexible in use).

And I think that, like before, everyone has the responsibility to change the idea of what beauty is. Beauty isn`t about being skinny, it`s not about having the prettiest eyes, or the prettiest clothes.

I`m not saying we should all embrace size 44+. It`s not healthy, and obesity is a huge problem. But  we have to accept that different bodies exist, that some people are naturally bigger, wider, with wider shoulders or on the other hand smaller waists and hips. It happens, and it`s all beautiful.

There was an article in this May`s Glamour magazine here in the Netherlands, a very small column, about how “curvy girls” are being accepted more in Hollywood. And though everyone is still on insane diets and “moving lettuce across plates”, it still goes to show that something is changing.

And I, for one, intend to keep working on that change. And I hope everyone reading this will join me. Let`s make healthy bodies the norm, in whatever shape  they come. 

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