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posted on 06.11.09

Over the past year, there has been a lot of controversy in fashion regarding the incredibly thin bodies of contemporary models, and the unattainable (and perhaps unhealthy) body image designers promote.  I find it interesting that this is only now an issue; if one looks back through time, artists have always embraced an ideal body that few women actually possess.  From the chubby, voluptuous females painted by Francois Boucher in the eighteenth century, to the hourglass corsets of the late nineteenth century, to the tall and thin glamazons of the 1930s, art and fashion have always manipulated the female body to create a perfect image that has no foundation in reality. 


This tendancy of fashion and art manipulating the body is not necessarily a bad thing; I believe it simply goes hand in hand with the search for beauty.  Every era has its ideal, and right now our cultural ideal seems to be a youthful, androgynous, ultra-thin form.  It makes sense if you look at the clothing that is in style right now- fashion seems to be obsessed with a combination of both hard-edged menswear inspired styles, and a reinterpretation of the 1920s tubular garconne silhouette.  The styles designers promote demand a skinny frame, but as fashion is constantly changing and reinventing itself it is unlikely that this ideal will be with us forever.  The world of fashion, art, and beauty is far to fickle to be satisfied with one fantasy for too long.

“Mainstream fashion has never been about inclusivity- either a body type or economic. It is about creating an ideal (whether good or bad)- the same thing painters have been doing for centuries. That being said, you do not have to possess either a perfect body, or the bank account of a famous actress to participate in fashion. To me, it is about embracing the fantasy and capriciousness of fashion. The theorist Roland Barthes once said "Fashion allows the individual to multiply themselves..." I like that- to me that makes me believe that fashion can be magical and transformative. As for body types, there have been changes over the past 40 years in terms of what a beautiful woman is- they may be subtle, but they are there. Industry horror stories and anorexia aside, fashion as an artform is with us to stay. Through my writing, I am simply trying to explore fashion's obsession with creating a perfect ideal. It may not be to everyone's liking, but as I said before painters have been doing the same thing for centuries yet the field of fashion is the one who gets the bum rap.”
Posted over 5 years ago
Unknown User says:
“"Ultra-thin" (or at the very least pointedly thin) has been the cultural ideal for the last 40 years at least. Call me pessimistic, but I am not holding my breath for a change in this standard outside of every few years, popular culture adopting an semi-voluptuous "it girl" (Christina Ricci, Scarlett Johansson) for a month or so before returning to thin-n-blonde business as usual. It appears that we are back to this business as usual phase, with Scarlett taking diet tips from Gwyneth Paltrow, and post-eating disorder Christina Ricci being the day before yesterday's news. I realize we are talking about fashion and not film here, but they share similar terrain. For me, industry horror stories and ever-escalating statistics surrounding eating disorders effect my perception and fuel my (aggressive) disinterest in the fashion world. I'm sure I'm not alone in my opinion that the world of fashion is rarely inclusive- from a size perspective and even from an economic/class perspective.”
Posted over 5 years ago
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