Not too long ago, a fashion blog I follow posted a photoshoot starring the usual skin&bones models. It was further emphasized by "artistic" nudity, wherein you could see every single rib. (Below the jump, for work-safe purposes)
Uh huh. Thanks guys, without you I wouldn't know what to consider beautiful and sexy, and therefore I wouldn't know what I need to change about myself before you'll find my presence acceptable. At least you don't want to see my ribcage any more. I guess ribcages aren't sexy.
Anyway, I posted a comment on that photoshoot to the effect that I was disturbed by the clearly underweight models, and that perhaps, as fashion consumers, we should rethink out support of unhealthy body images. The community on that blog is quite polite and inoffensive, so it was followed with a few comments to the effect of "I'm sure they're fine". Excerpt:
Oh wow. These are stunning. Yes the models appear to be quite underweight, but I do actually know people who eat their weight in food but manage to look much the same. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
And I think the models are great, I have the same body type (which is DEFINATELY not from under eating) and I’m sick of the media/society demonizing skinny people, yet they don’t say anything about overweight people because they don’t want to offend. It’s silly. Also, keep in mind that most fashion models are very tall so they naturally have thin frames.
I'm going to address the more obvious one first, namely, the hilarity of
I’m sick of the media/society demonizing skinny people, yet they don’t say anything about overweight people because they don’t want to offend.I don't know what society Ellen lives in, but it's definitely not mine. We're talking about a society that is waging a war against fat - crazy diets, making trans fats straight-up illegal, banning happy meals because it makes children fat, re-hauling cafeteria food in schools for the same reason... where it makes tabloid headlines when a celebrity gains five pounds. A few people tut-tutting over skinny models, and very legitimate concern over the mental and physical health of people who have bodies like that is not nearly on par with the schizophrenic relationship our current society has with fat.
While I don't personally have a small frame, my dear boyfriend T does. We've been struggling with his weight for a long time. The most he has ever weighed was 110 pounds, and he's 5'7". In first year university, he was 95 pounds. He only broke the 100lb mark in his second year of university. Last summer he had corrective jaw surgery, where his mouth was going to be wired shut for a month. We tried so hard to get him to gain weight - successfully. He put on ten pounds in time for the surgery, and promptly lost fifteen pounds in the three weeks following. Several months later, he is back to what seems to be his stable weight of 100 pounds.
He does have a small frame - his shoulders and ribcage are narrow, his wrists are tiny. He also eats very little. If he eats a "normal" sized meal, be becomes too full and feels sick. Due to being easily distracted, he also doesn't eat very often. We've discovered that he doesn't seem to get an endorphin rush from eating - he eats because it tastes good and prevents hunger, not because it feels good to eat. He accidentally keeps himself on a very strict, low-calorie diet.
So, I do know someone who stays skinny regardless of what he eats (quality-wise, not quantity-wise). But that doesn't make me any more disturbed when I notice very skinny models. (It's most noticeable when you can see their rib cages, but their arms are also a good giveaway.) The reason it still concerns me is that the modelling world has a disproportionate percentage of underweight or skinny individuals. I only know one person in real life who is "naturally" that thin - out of the thousands of people I've encountered. And yet, here is an industry with a high concentration of them - why? Clearly, it's glorified or desired in the fashion industry. That is the thing that should change. How likely do you think it is that every single model is just like T? Genetically has a tiny frame, eats small portions because that satisfies his hunger? And how likely do you think it is that many of these girls have eating disorders, and body image issues? Hmmmm...
Anyway, I am probably more able to speak to the existence, and life, of "naturally" skinny people. Frankly, I worry about T. The few times he's been sick enough to not eat, he dropped weight he can't afford to lose. He's very frail, he gets cold very easily, and I worry about other health implications. Yes, he's "naturally" skinny in that he doesn't consciously diet or binge, but that doesn't make it any more healthy.