"You know, skinny models are so out," said my boyfriend one night as we sat watching America’s Next Top Model. (By the way, the BF would want you to know that watching this show is one of our many compromises. Hockey is another). The fashion world is not his area of expertise’nor is it mine; I’m drawn to ANTM like a moth to a flame’so I questioned this pronouncement. After all, we were watching a very skinny woman gain glowing praise from Tyra and her band of absurd fashion-world judges.
Then, as we’re wont to do whenever a debate between us arises, he logged on to his computer and brought up an article from the Toronto Star entitled, "Stick-thin models passé at Paris Fashion Week." OK then, one point for the boyfriend.
The report gushes about how high-fashion designers are sending women of "all ages and sizes" down the runway. Some cases in point: Paris Fashion Week featured the likes of plus-size Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, "non-models discovered in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Australia," former supermodel Stella Tennant who is (gasp!) a mother of four and, the pièce de résistance, the Lanvin show closed with five black models (see if you can spot them in this picture‘it’s like playing Where’s Waldo).
It seems like there’s a term for these "real woman" runway queens: Novelty models. Isn’t that cute? Writer Sarah Mower from the Telegraph seems to be ecstatic that this trend is here to stay and that models are actually going to start looking like the rest of us. Hip hip hooray.
You’ll have to excuse my cynicism, but isn’t all this ballyhoo about "real-looking" models just another way of judging women based on their age and body type? When is Beth Ditto just a totally righteous rocker rather than a "novelty model" applauded for her size?
Also, I’m not entirely convinced that this is a changing moment for the fashion industry. I logged onto Style.com to see a whole slew of models from Paris Fashion Week looking a lot like the very thin models we’ve been seeing for years now.
What do you think? Is the fashion industry doing right by "real women" these days?