I don’t know about you, but quite frankly I’m bored of newspapers obsession with weight. At the moment they are behaving like a seriously paranoid woman and you cant flick a paper open without reading some kind of weight statistic, cruel jibe and especially the word Obesity, slapped across every single page, apparently it’s a ratings winner.
For those of you that have followed SLiNK since our first printed issue, you’ll know that we got drawn, hook, line and sinker into this daft argument, defending ourselves on the airwaves, assuring all the paranoid, slightly thick people that SLiNK is NOT promoting obesity (yep there’s that word again), simply reminding people that if you happen to have curves, or be above a size 14 or plus size, however you want to call it, you can look fashionable and on trend and you also can have editorial styled on woman above a size 6.
19 fashion editors (well international Vogue’s) have said they will not use models under the age of 16 or girls that appear to be unhealthy, how they’re planning on guessing the last bit, well no one seems to know. While this has obviously got them lots of press (presumably the real aim for saying the above – oh how cynical I’ve become) it does seem a fairly impractical idea. After all lobbed onto the end is the encouragement to designers to produce bigger samples so they don’t have to use super skinny models. However these are the designers that very often pay their advertising which allows the magazine to exist, now if they don’t enlarge their samples, Vogue, will still shoot the pieces and will have little choice but to find a girl who can get those samples on. So please tell me Vogue how you will work out what constitutes a healthy model and for everyone else out there, stop hating girls that are naturally that slim, I have lots of model friends and model sized friends, they eat, they are just that size.
Secondly, BMI, those of you calling for BMI to be the measurement for whether a model is healthy or not, while Israel may have passed a law about it and others are chirping away, BMI is not a sensible indicator for health, it isn’t accurate enough to tell us if someone is healthy or not and there are too many other factor involved. How many more articles do we need to read where people are told their obese because of their BMI only to find they are healthy and active. We need to stop grabbing on to buzz words and start looking at fact and lifestyle indicators such as diet and exercise, it really is that old school and boring.
Thirdly, Airbrushing, we did an interview for Brushed Off which you can read or if you want to hear my voice listen to it on their site. I think because we work on a curvy mag, everyone expects me to be anti airbrushing. I’m not. I like photo shop and I am not ashamed. However I am direct on how I want to use it. We DO NOT airbrush girls bodies smaller to how they are and we DO NOT make them bigger. We do touch up skin and lighting where needed. Photo shop has existed since the beginning of photography, even in paintings, people only painted what they wanted to see. SLiNK is an aspirational glossy, not a warts and all magazine. I promise you, no glossy that you read would look anywhere near as good without photo shop. I don’t agree with super slimming girls on shoots in any magazine and we should be careful with how we use airbrushing in that sense, but do I think it should be banned? NO, I teach 16 year olds and they all know airbrushing exists and the images they see aren’t real. We should have greater awareness with girls as they are growing up, from both PSHE lessons in schools and parents should be talking to their kids. It is not entirely the glossy magazines fault, we need to share blame and responsibility for education girls.
I actually think that the weeklies should share a greater responsibility than the monthlies. These are the cheapest and most easily accessible magazines for young girls and while they show stars without make up and often falling out of clubs without airbrushing, they are also the ones championing ideas such as ‘Hoop of Horror’ and calling out celebrities for extreme or even slight weight gain and loss. The language they use is more often than not a sneaky stab in the back to the celebrities that are used a front line punching bag and I personally feel the terminology used in those magazine is far more detrimental to young girls than the monthlies. It is the celebrities that are our modern day icons, and by documenting their weight gain even marginally we are highlighting over and over again that any form of curve is bad and this message sticks terribly to young girls.
Fad diets, if no one has noticed, nearly all magazines encourage quick, fad diets, that don’t care about overall health and well being just a quick bikini body fix. If you don’t think that that is wrong, daft and dangerous, well honestly there is no help for you. Fad dieting doesn’t work, it isn’t healthy and it isn’t maintainable. You do more damage to your body through fad dieting and yoyo weight fluctuation than you do by simply maintaining one weight. (Fact so please don’t shake your head at me right now). These are also influencing generations of girls to think it is normal and ok to eat how they want then quick fix it before a big event. What we should be doing is talking about healthy food, healthy diets, cooking and eating in moderation, deprivation of food groups make you then splurge and feel guilty. When it comes to our food and bodies we need to start removing guilt from the equation.
And finally, we have to stop using Obesity as a buzz word. Stop ridiculing people that are over a size 14 and assuming we understand their lifestyle. We don’t. Health does not equate that easily to size. Yes if you are immobile and not active, you are not healthy. Equally, you can be a size 22+ who hits the gym, cycles to work and eats healthily, that girl could be healthier and more fit and active than her size 10 counterpart. Because Obesity, BMI and all the other fad words you throw at plus size women don’t stick or mean anything and the moment we manage to hold off ridiculing women and our bodies long enough and alter the way we talk about plus size, fat and our bodies to talking about healthy diet and exercise the better off we will be.