Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pressure To Be Thin In Paris Fashion Week

This is an article about a model that decided to put her well-being before the eating-disordered demands of the fashion industry during Paris Fashion Week.
It's a repost from the Wall Street Journal.
I am also reposting a blog from my myspace blog about my personnal insight and experience with eating disorders.
There is a comment by Nina Garcia saying that models are getting thinner and thinner and we as a society keep getting fatter and fatter.
Well, we are no fatter in relation to one another than expected.
Firstly Nina, I know you probably flunked HS biology and did not have to take it in college, but there is such a thing as evolution. Genes for being big and storing fat in our bodies were selected a long time ago because people who gain weight easily and keep in on were more likely to survive during times of famine. Considering the way the economy is heading, those genes might be handy again and regain favour in the very near future. There is also an issue of genetic variance ( yes, there are different BREEDS of humans. Some are St. Bernards and some are Greyhounds and some are yappy Chihuahuas). What makes people and scientists so dumb to think that the same natural variance that occurs in other species is completely absent in a species as varied and abundant as humans? Not only are there different breeds of humans there are different sub-breeds and colours within breeds...
As nutrition and advances in healthcare have been made, people have also gotten taller and larger at an approximate average rate of 3-4 inches per generation. I can say that for a fact and personnal observation since my mother is 4 inches taller than my grandmother, I am 3 inches taller than my mother, and my daughter is already 5'10 at 14. With that comes more weight. But since they tinkle with what constitutes fat all the time by lowering acceptable weights and BMIs, fake instant "obesity epidemic" spikes are created along with other "fake-ified" alarmist tools co-opted from infectious disease epidemiology by researchers desperate for dwindling grants.
Also since the beguinning of the Bush administration people are getting poorer and poorer. Healthy foods like organic meats, dairy , fruits and veggies are expensive. Foods made of High Fructose Corn Syrup and ladden with oil are cheap and the only thing poor people in certain parts of the country can afford.
If incentives were given to grow and buy good, nutritious foods and they were AFFORDABLE may be people would eat them more.
That is the explanation for the "getting fatter and fatter" blame-and- hate myth.
But here are the articles...

Wasn't Skinny
Supposed to Be
Out of Fashion?
February 28, 2008; Page D1
On Tuesday morning in Paris, as the fashion elite were gathering at the Balenciaga show, 17-year-old model Ali Michael was heading home to the U.S. far earlier than anticipated.

Miss Michael was last season's model du jour, and she looks wraithlike, with a still-developing body and a 23-inch waist. But this season, after gaining five pounds, Miss Michael was told by casting directors for the runway shows that her legs were too plump, according to her mother, Mary Ann Michael, who travels with her daughter to appointments and shows. And so, after doing a string of major supermodel shows in September, Miss Michael snared only the Yohji Yamamoto show in Paris this time around. After walking the runway, her eyes blackened with corpse-like makeup, she said she was sad to be leaving but grateful to Mr. Yamamoto. "This show is special," she added.

See a breakdown of Ali Michael's career
Nobody here has been talking about last year's skinny-model cause célèbre, when a few fashion-industry leaders in Milan and Madrid began talking about instituting body-mass-index requirements after the starvation deaths of several models. This year, the models are just as thin -- if anything, they look thinner. This was particularly visible in Paris, which sets modes for clothes and fashion shows around the world.

"I think it's gotten worse," said Nina Garcia, fashion director at Elle magazine and a judge on cable television's "Project Runway," while we waited to see Balenciaga. "In the fashion industry, the models are getting thinner and thinner, yet as a culture, we're getting fatter and fatter."

The Paris runways this week have been as flamboyant as ever, and exceedingly thin models are a big part of the show. Jean-Paul Gaultier assured his continued reign as fashion's enfant terrible by creating a PETA nightmare of fur. Fashion's most famous bony models walked the runway draped in fur that was designed to shock: The heads of the foxes and other creatures went swinging down the catwalk -- eyes, noses, ears, feet, tails and all. The show ended with wild laughter over the sound system -- the huge wicked laugh of a madman.


Who's responsible for increasingly skinny models? Share your thoughts.2

Read the latest fashion news, images and analysis from around the world at Heard on the Runway3.Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière opened his show with two demure little black dresses that would look awkward on anything but a rail-thin frame. They stood out from the body with exaggerated hips, hiding models' protruding collar bones with a look like armor. Dior went 1960s-Mrs.-Robinson with a finely tailored collection that will make people rush for a martini and cigarette -- and the models, with heavily teased hair and wildly exaggerated eye makeup, were little more than highly stylized hangers for the clothes.

Several designers did grapple with modern concerns. Issey Miyake's show was an eerie ode to love in an apocalyptic age -- he blended jeans, made on special looms that weave fabric to look spray-painted, with fine black suits, run through with understated platinum and gold thread.

Mr. Miyake is right: War, famine, drought and global warming trouble us; we need look no further than the spring flowers blooming in February in Paris to know that change is afoot.

Yet what of the 21st-century problem on his own runway? Mr. Miyake deserves credit for hiring several models of color, but he seemed nonplussed when I asked him about weight. He chose models who are "just suitable for our clothes," he repeated several times.

Bodies Formed to Fit Clothes

So we have bodies being formed to fit clothes, rather than clothes designed to fit bodies.

Model Ali Michael.
"If you look at the girls, they are not beautiful like models were 20 years ago," says Jimmy Pihet, spokesman for the Federation Française de la Couture, which oversees Paris fashion shows. "The girls are thin, they have strange faces. ... At first, you look at them and you're not sure if they're beautiful or disgusting."

This has come about as the fashion industry continues its attempt to seem different while moving in lockstep. Even Viktor & Rolf, who like to make fun of fashion and built slogans like "NO!" and "WOW!" into clothes in Tuesday's show, stop short of certain revolutions. Everywhere on the runways, it's apparent that the emaciated look is still "in."

Mr. Pihet says that France has had laws since 1990 requiring models who are under 18 to obtain health certificates from doctors, and that the Federation receives complaints that the laws are too strong. But he claims that models aren't role models for young girls -- that actresses play that role.

This is a contested point. As any parent of an adolescent girl can tell you, fashion magazines become dog-eared as girls study them for beauty tips.

Thinner Than Twiggy

But it isn't fair to just blame a few designers. In the U.S., France and Italy, casting directors, fashion designers, show overseers and fashion magazines move en masse, and no one is using models who look like models did 20 years ago. In her day, the aptly named Twiggy seemed wildly thin -- but she would look oversized on today's runways.

It's hard to imagine Miss Michael, a willowy, 5-foot-9-inch teenager, being told her legs are too fat. Last season, Miss Michael made herself sick keeping her weight down, said her mother. Miss Michael's reward was to be heralded as the next supermodel.

She opened Lanvin in Paris a year ago and walked the runways of Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, Chanel, John Galliano, Dior, Rodarte and others. She appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Teen Vogue and W magazines and was personally congratulated by Vogue's Anna Wintour.

Choices Over Dieting

It's possible to become anesthetized to the models' looks. With heavy makeup, it's also easy to overlook how young many of them are. Miss Michael was "discovered" in Texas at 15.

Her mother, a stunning woman who was once a model herself, said her daughter's model friends have struggled to get thinner in recent months and that her daughter, worried about her health, chose not to starve herself.

"Our bags are packed," said Mrs. Michael sadly as she and her daughter prepared to fly home. Still, she said that she felt a sense of relief that her child was getting out of the fast lane of fashion, at least for now. "I have a really good, good daughter," she said.

Write to Christina Binkley at christina.binkley@wsj.com4

And here is my blog on what causes eating disorders from my personal perspective...I have never made it a secret that I am an eating disordered individual in recovery.

I have been mostly episode free for almost 15 years. I had a couple of close calls a couple of years ago but having been in recovery so long, and having found the size acceptance movement and community has helped immensely.

From the time I was around thirteen until I got pregnant with my daughter, I forced myself to throw up, compulsively exercised and abused diuretics, laxatives and stimulants like caffeine pills and ephedra, and periodically reduced my food intake so much I was not eating at all. I went to the point of stealing the ephedra from other people using it because I was so obsessed with loosing weight. But this is not surprising because a lot of desperate addicts act that way.

One thing has to be pointed out here. I never became thin. NEVER. The lowest weight I ever reached after menarche was 65 kilos or 143 pounds. I sustained that for about 2 weeks. And that was when the eating disorder was coupled with Hepatitis A. Age 14 or so. Mostly when sick, I was at the lowest 165 and in average about 175-180.

Some of the permanent consequences of the eating disorders are as follows. I have to constantly be vigilant of my frame of thought and triggers. A life long problem with orthostatic hypotension. A tendency towards hypoglycemia. I throw up incredibly easy. My metabolism is sort of normal but with each attempt to loose weight it becomes slower and more resistant. I have a more delicate and sensitive immune system since I became eating disordered.

Another valid point to bring up, is that unlike most other eating disordered individuals, I never hid my problem. I abused laxatives, compulsively exercised, starved myself and threw up on a regular basis, openly. Since I have always been bigger than the acceptable and desired standard, my eating disorders were societally sanctionned, encouraged and positively reinforced. People gave me tips, congratulated my behaviour, told me I was doing the right thing and told me how great I looked all the time. I was even told by my Modern Dance professor who weighted me in public every week to keep doing what i was doing when he knew DAMN WELL what I was doing. I was rewarded on a regular basis for severely harming myself . What if I had been a drug addict, or an alcoholic or a cutter? They would have institutionalized me, or put me in treatment immediately. Since all I was trying to do was make everyone around me happy and my body was so unnaceptable to everyone, my disorder was seen as a good thing, not as the self-destructive behaviour that it was. Had I started out thin, that would have never been the case, because I would have gotten myself quite dead. I used to tell my first boyfriend in Mexico about what I did. And he would just go, whatever... your jeans look better now and you look thinner... The man now has a PhD.

A while back, I tried to volunteer in a clinical study of eating disordered individuals who had been in successful remission for over 7 years. I was excluded from the study because my BMI was over 25. How idiotic, triggering , stupid , dumb-ass and prejudiced was this? This goes to show that having an MD or a PhD or both, does not exclude scientists from being IGNORANT IMBECILES. My colleagues often bring me a lot of shame.

Many reasons are being resarched as to why eating disorders happen in people. I don't know WHY they waste money on genetic studies and shit about brain chemistry and other stuff along those lines. What a waste of ressources. All they have to do is ASK eating disordered individuals WHY it is that we do what we do.

The reason is pretty much logical: INCESSANT AND PERNICIOUS SOCIAL FUCKING PRESSURE that eventually drives you crazy. What chemicals are released and how this happens really does not matter.

It comes from everywhere and we are bombarded with this shit all day, every day. How insidious it is is mind-blowing. With me it was my mother. It was my schoolmates harassing me and bullying me and tormenting me every single day until I wanted to die. It was my teachers. It was my dance teachers. It was both of my grandmothers. It was the TV. It was my family physician and the school psychologist. It was my college professors. It was every fucking diet and diet book and negative comparison between me and my freinds, between me and my mother, between me and Cindy Crawford and between me and Kate Moss. And that is why I INSIST in telling my daughter every time I speak to her, that she is PERFECT.

Eating disorders are not organic diseases of the individual. Eating disorders are diseases that SOCIETY inflicts on the individual. Society FUCKS with you and your body until you loose the fight and become mentally ill. Society as a whole is chronically and idiopathically and almost homogeonously infected with eating disorders and eating-disordered thinking, but only some of us show the symptoms and become seriously ill. And the medical industry is one of the main vectors of infection when they are the ones supposed to keep us in good health.. I remember this pesky little thing somewhere along the lines that went something like :"First do no harm." Did I hallucinate that precept? When did Jenny Craig's and Weight Watchers' and Kellogs' and Ortho McNeil Nutritionals' and Sanofi's and Abbott's and Roche's and bariatric surgeons groups' key marketing goals override not harming people? When those are worth billions of dollars and are brilliantly coupled with society's last valid form of prejudice.

It is no longer acceptable to hate and discriminate against black people, or Asians, or Latinos or Jewish people, or Gay people. But everyone feels entitled to hate on the fat people and society applaudes and encourages this hate. When you become the target of the entire world's hate and contempt and constant attacks, how do you avoid loosing your mind and join into the insanity? It takes a tremendous amount of strenght because it comes like a shower of bullets from a machine gun, all day, every day.

So there is a cure and the is a way of preventing eating disorders. Stop pressurring people incesantly to modify their bodies and let them be happy and healthy and whatever they want to be in whatever shape they come. Sometimes the best solutions are incredibly simple and elegant.


Evolution83 said...

Thank you for doing this post. More people should see it.

Milla said...

No, Thank you for reading it :-)
I do hope more people read it and I cna help somebody and change the way people think...

Joan said...

Looking at me now, you'd never know I was anorexic in my early teens. The constant exercise, the vomiting, the laxatives, the three pieces of lettuce with lime juice as dressing for lunch and dinner (nothing for breakfast, thank you), the fatigue, the headaches, the muscle cramping...I lived for that crap. And then one day, I woke up and said, "I'm sick. I'm sick as a dog and I did this to myself!" My mom thought I was finally losing my baby fat and hadn't realized what I was doing to myself. When I told her, she was smart and took me straight to the doctor to make sure I hadn't done irreparable damage to my heart, kidneys, liver, etc.

Later, when I was a pediatrics nurse, I often treated patients with eating disorders. Many were so ill they were restricted to bedrest because they were too weak to stand alone. They were always on heart monitors, too. I think of the humiliation they felt whenever they had to use the bed pan and as much as it broke my heart, it was one of those times when you could just as easily say, "it's up to YOU to get off the bed pan. All you need is to weigh five pounds more and you'll get a bedside commode. Ten pounds more gets you into the bathroom." Hard to say sometimes when you know what's in their head, but also the best thing you could do. If they wanted to regain their dignity, they could. And they could equate dignity with weighing a little more.

On a lighter note, is it just my imagination or did you sneakily call ninagarciafashioneditorofellemagazine a chihuahua?

Milla said...

Eating disorders are scary and pernicious and ubiquitous and society inflicts them on us.
And there are plenty of non-thin eating disordered people out there and we are the ones who are the worst off because people encourage the illness.
And yes, like addictions, they take away everything including your dignity, eventually.
I suffered, like I mentionned permanent damage because mine went on for so long.
Yes, I did...
Sneaky like the Afgan/St. Bernard mix I am ;-)