Happy Easter Holidays Everyone.
This post comes to you from an internet connection in holiday mode! The last few days our internet has been painfully slow, and while frustrating as that is, it has been the perfect excuse to have a break and get stuck into some reading.
Over the past couple of weeks two seemingly un-connected books have crossed my path. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi, and Coal to Diamonds: A memoir from Beth Ditto and Michelle Tea. Both of these famous figures have had very public lives based quite literally, around their famous figures. Ditto has been simultaneously acclaimed and ridiculed for her voluptuousness and ‘devil may care’ attitude to the socially accepted norms of plus sized dressing. While de Rossi has suffered a very public personal battle with admitted self-constructed pressures to stay thin and ‘perfect’ during her early years of modelling and throughout the filming of the Ally McBeal series. While both of these women have had the additional struggle with self expression and personal acceptance in the public eye, their stories are ones that would resonate with people world wide.
The media, particularly the media associated with the fashion industry, portrays a certain ‘image’ when it comes to women body size and self acceptance. Body image and the fashion industry is a debate that has spanned the catwalk and fashion magazine for decades and with every decade there is a new ‘norm’. In the documentary series Inside the Creative Mind (which you can watch here), Tom Ford commented while shooting for French Vogue that fashion :
‘In todays world what everyone aspires to is to be exactly the same. We have all these people getting all this cosmetic surgery, all their breasts are looking the same, all their lips are looking the same, young girls are growing up thinking that they have to have collagen in their lips because their mothers have collagen. Because they are used to looking at this… We are in a culture right now that is obsessed with youth… Fashion for me isn’t just clothes it can be a mirror where we are culturally for a moment in time, or it can be an indicator of where we are going. If you look for example at a film from the 1950’s and you look at the shape of women breasts, they were pointed, and you look at the cars…pointed. There was a look to that period, there is a look to every period’.
Taking forward Ford’s idea that the current ‘look’ of this period is ‘sameness and cosmetic surgery’ the push forward can be a little scary for younger women especially when some of their favourite role models and toys are looking so pumped up and plastic. My hubby showed me this little clip this morning that where an ex CSIRO scientist from Tasmania has taken it upon herself to give Bratz dolls a day off from their heavily made up lives to don their gumboots and play in the outdoors.
Having played with these dolls and their extensive wardrobes of heels and clubbing outfits with a friends daughter I was personally delighted to here the little girl comment that her made-under dolly looks like she ‘likes to bounce on the trampoline’ and ‘go camping’. Unfortunately these tree change dolls aren’t for sale yet but as soon as they are I plan to buy one for my friends daughter to add to her Bratz dolls collection. Even if she is just a one off ‘cousin from the country’ for her other fashionable Bratz doll friends variety is always fun!
So where are we at with role models and the catwalk?
Even with an undercurrent resurgence towards booty appreciation in the music industry (see examples here and here) , thin is still in! According to the NY times there is talk of legislation within the French Parliament that would set minimum weights for models in a bid to stamp out eating disorder within the industry. While this would only be a small step in the right direction towards a culture of positive body image, it would help remove some of the ‘trigger’ images circulating ‘thinspo’ accounts across the globe. If you weren’t aware ‘thinspo’, pro-ana (anorexia), and pro-mia (bulimia) are themes that have a strong undercurrent in social media platforms. A quick browse of #thin in Instagram can be an alarming reality check that we as a society are not on the right track when it comes body image acceptance just yet. Unfortunately many of these ‘thin’ images glamourise eating disorders and disconnect with the reality of the disease. Model and actress Isabelle Caro became the face of Anorexia when she teamed up with Italian label Nolita in a series of confronting billboard images that displayed the reality of eating disorders. Unfortunately Caro is no longer with us, but her legacy of being a ‘face’ for eating disorders is a powerful one that will continue to raise awareness for many years to come. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder it is never to early or too late to ask for help. In Australia The Butterfly Foundation assists eating disorder and negative body image sufferers and their carers to find ways to prevent, treat, and support each other.
With the street press being ‘all about that bass’ it will be interesting to see how designers respond to booty acceptance in upcoming designer collections. Will bustles make a comeback? Will we all be purchasing booty enhancing pants? I personally hope that the future is one of increasing environmental awareness and ethics. That will illicitness a response from the fashion industry centred around valuing personal style over fashion. This would result in better quality garments, prices that reflect the workmanship and resources that have gone into the manufacturing process, and a duty of care with advertising. In my ideal future we would buy to last, products would be stylish, well made, ethically sourced and produced, biodegradable or recyclable, utilise low impact manufacturing, and most of all would make us feel good about ourselves. Models would look healthy and happy. Advertisers would appeal to individuals sense of style and lifestyle requirements rather than focusing on mass marketing a ‘look’ for the season. Girls would look up to women who are comfortable in their own skin and live a conscious and grateful lifestyle.
What do you envision the future of fashion to look like?
What is your ideal catwalk fashion revolution?
Share any thoughts below.