Why Do We Love To Hate On Thin Models?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Robin Givhan is no dummy, so she must’ve anticipated the article she wrote for the Washington Post this weekend was bound to generate some controversy. She’s added her two-cents to the fashion world’s skinny model debate drama by essentially saying we love to hate on twiggy ladies because we’re filled with self-loathing for our own fat asses.

Sooo, um, yeah …

“All those emaciated models have to be seen against the backdrop of a population that is overwhelmingly afflicted with obesity. It has to be viewed in the context of a first lady who has taken up the cause of healthy eating and exercise because nearly one in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese.

The fatter the general population, the thinner the idealized woman. And for all the public posturing and blogging, the only force that stopped people from buying clothes and magazines was the souring economy, not righteous indignation over skinny models.

By its very nature, fashion is a business of falsehoods and costumes, all in service to self-definition. The uncomfortable truth about the fashion industry is it has a knack for tapping into unspoken cultural obsessions and taboos. Fashion sets up a rarefied world of perfection that is, in many ways, defined by how much it differs from the mundane, from the norm. And all indicators suggest that as a culture, we hate what we are becoming: fat.”

Her point — that fashion is fantasy, that it represents a heightened, reality-distorting ideal and that it is in itself a status symbol for the privileged few — makes sense in a way. But she fails to bring up the fact that at the heart of the model debate, no one is suggesting we start glorifying obese models either. The world’s temperature has been taken and the resounding reaction seems to be that women (and men) would prefer to see more healthy-looking fashion idols in the pages of glossy magazines and in advertising. Not anorexic teenagers, not morbidly fleshy rolls, just women who look like they ate more than a single apple in the last 24 hours. Then again, is it such a stretch to say that in an increasingly fat world, it makes sense that we’d worship the extremely thin and bitch about it at the same time? Not really. But it sure is gonna piss off those campaigning for change.