So, Stella McCartney has refused to allow anyone under a UK size 10 to model for her at Paris Fashion Week. "Good for her!" I hear you all cry. "It’s about time we saw some real women on the catwalks!"
I have a problem with this, though – and it’s not that I want to see waifs on the catwalk, because I don’t. If a model is too thin to be healthy, then she shouldn’t be modeling. It’s bad news for her, it’s bad news for the fashion industry, and it’s bad news for every little girl or young woman who looks at her and thinks "that’s how I should look. That’s the weight I should be aiming for."
So, I have no argument with those who want to see anorexic girls taken off the catwalk. No, my beef is with those who want to bring the debate down to dress sizes and suggest that anyone under size 10 is underweight, and should therefore be banned.
You see, by suggesting that a UK size 10 is the minimum size someone should be before they’re allowed to model, the implication is that women who wear a UK size 8 or even – shock horror! – size 6 are "too thin". And that’s just not true.
A UK size 8 is roughly equivalent to a US size 4. While that’s by no means big, it’s not exceptionally skinny either. It’s perfectly possible for a woman to be a UK size 8 and be perfectly healthy. So why should she be banned from Stella’s catwalk?
I think the danger of bringing everything down to dress sizes – which is the way the so-called "size 0" debate has gone – is that we start to lose sight of what’s important, and what’s important is whether a woman is a healthy weight for her height and frame. Women are not all the same. We come in different heights, different shapes, and, yes, different dress sizes. If you’re very tall, for instance, wearing a UK size 10 may mean you’re underweight. If you’re very short, on the other hand, you may be slightly overweight in a 10 – or you may not be. So it’s wrong to suggest that women shouldn’t be smaller than size 10, just as it’s wrong to suggest that women shouldn’t be bigger than size 0.
My point? The number on your dress label doesn’t matter. As long as your weight is healthy for you, it doesn’t matter what size you wear.