March 6, 2008

Ridonkulous Model Standards? Maybe Not?

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.

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.

-- Christina Binkley for The Wall Street Journal (full article)

Ali is the one standing on the left. The girl crouching, Lily Donaldson, gets to keep her job. Fine with me.

As I said in the last post, I'm on the fence about this whole stick-thin model thing. I do think it probably is sending a horrible message to girls around the world watching this stuff. Shit, I'm pretty sure it affected me. I can't find how much the girl weighs, but being 5'9" and having a 23" waist sounds like a super low BMI and extreme underweight conditions to me. Although I understand that some girls are just 'born skinny' and have petite frames, no girl should have to watch her weight so carefully down to five pounds in order to make money and follow their dream. There will always be weight shittiness in the media, unfortunately. If you ask me, watching a show in Paris is just as unhealthy for you as eating McDonald's. Obesity is the bigger problem (yes, pun intended) here in the U.S. Everyone went off on Lagerfeld's apathy toward itty bitty models when he shrugged and said that "France has problems with a rise in overweight people rather than underweight".

For those of you who think that 'normal' girls should be modeling Gaultier's Spring/Summer RTW, you guys also have to understand that models are used to display the clothing, not themselves. Meaning it's more effective for the designer to use scrawny girls rather than girls with thick thighs or big boobs that would serve as a gigantic fucking distraction bouncing and jiggling around on the runway. I mean, the AMA (Association of Model Agents) suggest the measurements 34-24-34. Plus, smaller model = less fabric = lower cost. 

Heroin chic is back and there's not much we can do about it. I'm sure Madrid's lawmakers cried themselves to sleep after this story.