I’ve never had anything against models. Except maybe that, at the age of 16, they’re packing the type of serious designer tote that I’ve been saving for since before they were born. I don’t even resent that they slipped straight into skinny genes at that birth.
So I’ve never quite understood why some women are such model-haters. But, boy, are they.
I was chatting about it with some girlfriends over the weekend. Most raised the usual far-too-skinny argument, some even snappily saying “bony models are disgusting”. But then, when talking about curvaceous Chloe Marshall, the size 16 beauty queen currently running for Miss England, those same voices said she’d probably win “because of the PC vote”. It reminded me of comments we get about Bh photos from time to time: ‘gee, she’s too perfect’ vs. ‘she’s not very pretty for a model’. A model can’t win.
Maybe one reason women don’t like models is because we’re looking for them to be ideal role models when, really, they’re just wearing clothes.
Lurking backstage throughout Fashion Week gave me the chance to observe these clotheshorses up close and in their natural habitat (I’m David Attenborough with a mascara!). I watched them get herded from show to show and be prodded and primped by at least four hands at a time. It didn’t look like the dream ride I’d always suspected.
To be honest, most were just like other gangly teenagers, with ipods jammed in their ears and their noses in textbooks. And, yes, they were eating (lollies were everywhere). It was hard to think of them as the source of society’s body image ills.
Don’t get me wrong, I think having rail thin teenagers parading the catwalk is ridiculously unrepresentative of the wider (by at least a couple of dress sizes) population of women, myself included. And it’s not the beauty benchmark that should be held up for young and impressionable women.
But maybe anything that’s held up as an ideal, be it size 6 or 16, is bound to disappoint someone. So whether designers decide to put skinny or rounded on the runway, perhaps it’s up to us to forget models as role models altogether – after all, they’re just teenagers wearing clothes. Even if they are pulling in annoyingly large cheques for it.