“Big can be beautiful, but fat should not be in fashion.” So begins an editorial by Damien Woolnough, fashion editor at The Australian, who’s stirred up controversy this week by criticising department store Myer’s plus-sized runway show, which featured models including Robyn Lawley, pictured here in Vogue Italia.
” Most of the models looked healthy but some looked obese,” writes Woolnough. “While most fashion festivals ban models for being too skinny, why is it OK to see fat women on the runway?”[TFP note: if you want to judge for yourself whether the models looked “obsese”, there are some photos from the show here.]
Woolnough goes on to argue that models who are “too fat” send just as unhealthy a message as models who are too thin, and the fashion world is in danger of creating a dangerous double standard by “celebrating people being overweight”.
As contentious as it may be to say it, we think there is a double-standard evident in the way some people talk about weight. It’s become almost fashionable – no pun intended – to bash the “skinny” and celebrate the “curvy”: if you need proof, you need only to look at all of the “she needs to eat a sandwich” comments posted here on TFP, take a look at magazine headlines lauding “women with curves” or listen to the endless talk about “real” women and how “men don’t like skinny women”. For many people, it seems to be perfectly acceptable to criticise thin people for their weight, but still taboo to make the same kind of comments about fat ones (in fact, we’re not even sure we’re allowed to use the word “fat” without causing offence: it has to be “curvy” or the detestable “real” instead, although it’s still OK to call someone “skinny” or refer to them as a “stick insect”).
Has the scale finally tipped (yes, we’re full of puns today, aren’t we?) in favour of the “obese”, though? We don’t think so. This was, after all, a plus-sized show: the world is full of women who are a similar size to the models who appeared in it, and they all need to dress themselves, so why shouldn’t they see clothes on women they can relate to? It’s not like thin women are under-represented on the runway, or in the fashion world in general, is it? And we can complain all we want to about the culture of “skinny bashing”, but as far as we can tell, it hasn’t actually had much of an impact on the fashion world itself. Larger models are still very much in the minority, which is ridiculous when you consider that, when you step away from the runway, the reverse is probably true. And despite the various rules that have been put in place to safeguard models’ health, and despite all the talk about so-called “real” women, this September, the runways of the world will still be walked by predominantly thin models, and the glossy magazines will still fail to feature a large variety of shapes and sizes.
That variety is exactly what we think the fashion world is missing. Forget the “fat vs thin” debate: let’s see women of all shapes, all sizes, all colours, and all ages on the runways: now THAT we be something worth seeing.
What do you think? Do plus-sized models send an unhealthy message to women?