The October issue of French Vogue, billed as a ‘Top Models Special’ features a blacked-up a white model in “ethnic” clothing and no black models:
“It’s horrible, there’s nothing else to describe it,” says Nana A Tamakloe, founder of Confidence Model Management, which has a diverse range of models on its books. “The image says we’d rather turn a European model white than hire a black model.”
There’s been no response from the magazine.
Germany’s most popular women’s magazine, Brigitte, has banned professional models from its pages and will feature only ‘real life’ women with their own identities – from footballers to musicians – from now on:
“From 2010 we will not work with professional models any more,” said Andreas Lebert, editor-in-chief, adding that he was “fed up” with having to retouch pictures of underweight models who bore no resemblance to ordinary women.
“For years we’ve had to use Photoshop to fatten the girls up,” he said. “Especially their thighs, and decolletage. But this is disturbing and perverse and what has it got to do with our real reader?”
He said the move was a response to complaints by readers who said they had no connection with the women depicted in fashion features and “no longer wanted to see protruding bones”.
“Today’s models weigh around 23% less than normal women,” Lebert said. “The whole model industry is anorexic.”
Sounds like a positive initiative within the obviously problematic context of focusing on women’s bodies, but I think it should be remembered that models are ‘real life’ women too. Pushing the idea that ‘real women have curves / don’t look like that’ is just another form of judgemental body fascism.
Designer Karl Lagerfeld has responded by claiming that people prefer to look at skinny women and those who complain about the size zero trend are just jealous chubbies:
“These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly,” Lagerfeld said in an interview with Focus magazine. The creative director of the fashion house Chanel added that the world of fashion was all to do “with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women”.
Lagerfeld seems so absorbed in this poisonous world that he’s become completely removed from reality. With the pressure to be curvy and sexy on one side – thanks to the ‘real women have curves’ and lads’ mags brigades – and to diet ourselves into skinny oblivion on the other, women just can’t win.