The Chief of Police writes…
Yesterday morning, I received a press release which I’m still not totally convinced wasn’t supposed to be a joke – or deliberately controversial at the very least.
“Women should be slim for their men but not Size Zero’ says a founder of London Fashion Week,” begins the release (issued by Hillgrove PR), before going on to quote Achilleas Constantinou, “Founder of London Fashion Week and Ariella Couture”, who has some, er, interesting views on women.
“Being a healthy, acceptable weight for one’s partner is a consideration that all women, particularly followers of fashion should consider,” says Constantinou, who’d like to see “size 0” models banned from the runway. “An ideal weight is the goal. An ideal weight for health and an ideal weight to appease your partner”.
You hear that, ladies? Y’all should be SLIM. FOR YOUR MEN. Not for yourself, but to APPEASE YOUR PARTNER. Because that’s really all we women care about, isn’t it? Looking pretty to attract the menfolk. Oh sorry, wait: for a moment there I thought we were back in 1952, when those types of views were actually current, not 2012, when most women (I hope) realise that their entire existence doesn’t have to revolve around pleasing men.
Rampant chauvinism aside, however, I’m just so depressed to see the size/health debate being once again brought down to dress size. Women SHOULD be “slim”, says Constantinou, but they should NOT be “size 0” : and note, his comments are directed, not just to models/the fashion industry, but to “all women”. So, by this reasoning, NO WOMAN should be “size 0”. Great news for all of the women in the world who are that size, isn’t it? Because according to Constantinou, they just shouldn’t be. Their weight is not acceptable for their partners!
(At this point, I really have to take issue once again with the phrase “size 0” and its continued use by the UK media, and, in this case, a former member of the British Fashion Council. There is no such thing as “size 0” in UK clothing. It does not exist. The smallest dress size available in the UK is a size 4 (which is really only found in petite ranges), but the British media’s insistence on using the term “size 0” encourages people who don’t know this to believe that there’s a size two full dress sizes smaller than a UK size 4. No. There’s isn’t. In fact, the US size 0 is roughly equivalent to a UK size 6, and you can take that from someone who shops regularly from both UK and US brands. Depending on the amount of vanity sizing involved, in fact, a size 0 may even be closer to a UK size 8. A J Crew ‘0’ for instance, is much closer to a UK 8 than a 6, and not even close to a UK size 4. Calling it “size 8” isn’t nearly as shocking as calling it “size 0”, though, so the British media continues to misleadingly use American sizing when writing about this issue for a UK audience, presumably because it makes for better headlines.)
I do agree with Mr Constantinou on one thing, though. He says:
“In 2007 before I resigned from the British Fashion Council, we commissioned the Model Health Inquiry headed by Baroness Denise Kingsmill. It recommended inter-alia a permanent model health panel, which the BFC has set up and this checks models conditions backstage, ensuring they have a sanctuary relaxation zone and healthy food and drink. It also ensures that girls under 16 are not allowed to model and liaises regularly with designers and model agencies to ensure models have access to nutritional information with the focus being on health not on size.”
YES. The focus should be on “health, not on size.” Because the two things are not the same. Health is not about the size on your dress label. It’s not about pleasing your partner. It is not the same for every single person: size 8, say, could be dangerously underweight for one woman, and completely normal for another. There are so many factors to take into consideration when you’re talking about health, and to deem one particular size “unhealthy”, or suggest that anyone who is that size must be ill, only serves to demonize one group of women in the name of “helping” another.
Let’s focus on health. Let’s forget about dress size. Let’s see more models of ALL sizes on the runways: tall ones, short ones, thin ones, curvy ones – even more ground-breakingly, let’s see some older ones, too. I think that would do far more good for the fashion world – and women in general – than simply banning everyone who isn’t the “right” size from the runway, and telling women they must focus on pleasing their men.