Topshop Reignites the ‘Size Zero Debate’
This image, which appeared on the front page of Topshop’s website and features 18-year old model Codie Young, has been taken down as a result of complaints that it portrays a “painfully thin” girl, someone who looks ill and should not be used on a page visited by hundreds of thousands of young, impressionable females every day as it could “encourage Anorexia”.
Tut tut to Topshop or whichever editor selected this specific shot, which a spokesperson for the store admitted: “accentuated Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body.”
Kudos, however, for the way they responded to allegations of being irresponsible and to blame for girls developing or relapsing back into Eating Disorders.
Last night, Topshop replaced the image – not with a healthier-looking or even ‘curvy’ model – but with a different image of the same model from the same set of photographs.
Now, unless the model in question managed to shovel enough pies down her whilst changing outfits during the shoot, the compromise shot shows the same girl, at the same weight, the same size, the same teeny boobs and waist and as ever, the same blank expression.
Quite cleverly, Topshop reacted to complaints from worried parents and so-called professionals. By refusing to scrap the lookbook of Codie Young – who they say (and I believe) is naturally skinny due to having very tall, lean parents – they are making an important point: that lighting, camera angles, the model’s pose and the sample size in comparison to the model’s size all play a staggering part in accentuating the overall ‘look’. Trickery or accentuation or somewhere in between, it really is more than bones in a bag. We just love to moan.
I am not condoning the use of this image – there is no denying that she looks emaciated – but it aggravates me how quick we are to show our collective fury when we see a skinny model in a photoshoot or a twig-legged zombie on the runway at Erdem. Get over it. I am all for variety and believe that models should come in all shapes and sizes, but if we seriously think there will come a day when we don’t see 6ft beanpoles modelling the season’s new arrivals, we’re going to be bitterly disappointed.
What maddens me further is that people see this girl and immediately jump to the conclusion that she MUST be anorexic and this WILL encourage girls who see her tiny waist and gangly arms and think, ‘Ooh, she looks good, I think I’ll be anorexic so I can also look prepubescent. Prepubescent is really hot right now.’ My guess is that the people who follow such thought patterns wouldn’t know anorexia if it slapped them in the face.
I find it insulting that so many people automatically associate anorexia with vanity; a quest to look perfect, a selfish desire to appear impossibly thin like the models that bombard us with all their gorgeousness and gorgeosity.
It simply is not the case that images of underweight models encourage or cause Eating Disorders. The complexities would overwhelm anyone who has ever told a skinny girl in the street that she needs a burger. No time for that now.
Clearly, shots like this one are not helpful in the slightest to people either suffering with or recovering from an Eating Disorder, but as I touched upon earlier, they are never going to disappear; they will never all be banned.
We need to stop being so wrapped up in and worried about the negative impact that the fashion world could have on our hoards of young, vulnerable ladies. Instead, we need to realise (as most recovered anorexics I know have learnt to) that that is an entirely different world. What we see in magazines is polished to the maximum and IS NOT REAL. More than that, we need to stop wasting our time being anal about how harmful this picture or that phrase might be and just learn to hold our own heads up and have the confidence to just not let it bother us.
If we constantly look for something to be scared of, another spark for the same old “debate”, we’ll find it.
Rise above it and everything will be much prettier, happier and healthier.
anorexia, fashion, media, models, topshop
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