Friday, March 5, 2010

A Change of Season: "Normal-Size" Models

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week may have ended last week, but I think it's certainly still a relevant enough topic to shed additional light on. Think it was a coincidence that it was slated right around Spring Fashion week while stick-thin models strutted their stuff down runways in Bryant Park?
Though I love keeping tabs on the designer shows and upcoming trends each season, it's hard to overlook all the flack the fashion industry has received over the years for exalting extreme thinness, which often encourages eating disorders or incredibly restrictive diets. But maybe there's a new season of change starting to bloom. More and more coverage of "normal weight" models is making a significant statement - from the magazines, and from the runway. I hope we see more of models like Lizzie Miller, who's feature in Glamour's September 2009 issue caused quite a stir. Enough that Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive wrote multiple blog posts supporting the magazine's shift and showing appreciation to the thousands of readers who wrote in support of the push for a body revolution.
And with the publication of the November 2009 issue, Glamour made a commitment to feature a more diverse range of models - all shapes and sizes. And others are following suit. The January 2010 issue of Elle made mention of size 12 model Crystal Renn strutting down the catwalk at designer Mark Fast's London show (she wasn't the only size 10-14 model to do so) and Elle Canada had Renn do a complete fashion spread.Take the weighted issue out of the fashion world and you've got the Madmen red-headed buxom bombshell Christina Hendricks, who was just featured on the cover of New York magazine.
Renn went on Nightline just the other week to debate the issue "Is it OK to be Fat?" A panel discussion that ended up asking "Is it healthy to be fat?" There's no doubt our society struggles with extremes. Do we want over 33 percent of the population to be obese or more than 2/3 of it to be overweight? Of course not. And do we want eating disorders running rampant? Definitely not. There's an in between -- finding a healthy weight (whether it's a size 14 or 4) -- and sustaining it through knowledge and healthy eating habits. That, along with changing perceptions and what and how much we eat in the US, is the big challenge.
With a growing number of role models, literally, the overall takeaway point here is that a woman's (or man's) weight shouldn't be the absolute definer of beauty (leading actress in Precious, Gabourey Sidibe has spoken out a lot about that one). There's beauty in every size and every shape -- yup, I do love the "distinctive" bum I inherited from my mom and grandmother. Differences are precisely what make us distinctive and special and intriguing. And with March being National Nutrition Month, let's take that message and build on it...both with healthier eating habits, a focus on fresh foods and a continued charge to shift our viewpoints.

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