4. August 2009


The UK Times' Kate Spicer has reported on the 'death of size zero', citing model/It girl Daisy Lowe's apparent ample skeletal coverage as evidence that we have finally passed go and collected some calories on the way (if Lowe is 'curvy' then Kate Winslet's a walking Krispy Kreme). Significantly, Lowe (photographed for the August issue of UK mag Tatler, right) recently told The Guardian:

"The thing is, I'm not teeny-weeny stick sample size so I don't want to go along to the cattle castings and not fit into any of the clothes. Show size is very small and I eat doughnuts and Red Velvet. I love curvaciousness. Curvy girls are the sexiest girls. If clothes were built for curvier women, which is most of the population, one: people would look better; two: designers would sell more clothes, and three: they wouldn't have to use tiny anorexic models."

Wise words from a girl (19)

Spicer writes: "At last, slowly and from within, it seems fashion is falling back in love with the things that make women truly beautiful: confidence, sex appeal, health... Could it be that, finally, we can put those two incendiary little words, “size” and “zero”, behind us, and that Lowe and her softly cut ilk are the poster girls for a new aesthetic of womanliness and personality that lies ahead? While catwalk girls will always be thin, there has been a bit more bounce lately in the bottoms and flesh on the bones that walk in London, Paris, New York and Milan...

Kate Moss was overheard saying how sexy Lowe and the shapely girls sporting hundred-quid frillies looked at the recent AP perfume launch. The super-stylist Katie Grand has talked of being tired of “the tedious stereotypes of what it is to be a wonderful 21st-century woman”. Even mean old Karl Lagerfeld, the wicked fairy godfather of the cruel world of fashion, sent some girls away from a recent show, a first, saying: “They looked as if they had grown up in a Third World country with no food to eat.”

Significantly, the original LA poster girls of scrawn, the ones who gave skinny a well-dressed media glow that extended beyond the little pond of true high fashion — Nicole Richie, Mischa Barton, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan — have all either put on weight or been disgraced... Mix up the newish girls (Lowe, the fervid-looking Lara Stone or the generously sexy Sasha Pivovarova, who, despite putting a very unmodelly quantity of pounds on recently, still got to open Prada last season) with the reclaimed supers (who, while still natural-born skinnies, have the presence and fleshy strength of a mature woman) and we have a refreshing alternative to the status quo of recent years..."

All this talk is positive but may be premature. The size-0 mentality, I would argue, is still pervasive, though arguably reached is ridiculous apex when Nicole Richie was still being styled by Rachel Zoe (that said, the new 90210 crew are doing their best to keep the momentum going, as is a media obsessed with all things bodily, a fashion industry who insists on hiring lifeless, emaciated mannequins we are supposed to 'aspire' to look like and editors who have their own food issues).

I predict we'll have a mental hangover (not to mention a health one) from it for years to come. We've become almost anesthetised to the effect of seeing skinny celebrities and their catwalk counterparts... Twiggy was once a novelty; now you can see her everywhere!

What's more, many (maybe most) women are almost always in diet mode. Food, probably since the Fonda era, has been seen as an enemy we must fight, control, fear and view with suspicion ('5 healthy foods that aren't'; 'Is your salad making you fat?') rather than as a friend to aid in our physical, mental and emotional health and stability, and the enjoyment of life. The media discourse around eating is currently one associated with guilt and sin and geared towards fat-blasting our way out of the obesity epidemic.

But for the girls suffering eating disorders, encouraged by the entrenched skinny aesthetic and tormented by magazine images of too-thin celebrities (see NW cover), editorial trumpeting the latest diet fads ('Eat more, weigh less!') and a society obsessed with kilojoule counting, it's an uphill battle to better health and happiness... and the acceptance of self, whatever package that may come in.

A whole new mindset is required that says it's okay to eschew exercise, eat the occasional treat (and carbs... for dinner!) and feel full. It's a battle I've personally embarked on and it's taxing. What women need to see and read in magazines are positive health stories minus the prescriptive diet advice (i.e. let's start talking about the pleasures of social eating, of food preparation and the foods we really enjoy), less pictures of emaciated celebrities who clearly need help, less 'a day in the diet of...' stories charting the non-eating habits of skinny socialites and their ilk, and an abundance of happy, healthy women enjoying their bodies and food and life.

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