It’s hard to know all the reasons we’ve arrived at the place we are. Each year, hundreds of 14- and 15-year old girls enter modelling; a career move for some that will change their lives. In a weird and mixed up way, the fashion industry is supporting child labour, not only in the manufacture of clothes, but also in the manufacture of style and image.
Somehow we have decided that young teens are the style icons; the arbiters of fashion as determined by the clothes that hang from their social x-ray bodies. Somehow we’ve decided that wispy, ultra-thin, bony girls are the ideal to which we strive, irrespective of our ages or circumstances. And, somehow, inexplicably, even their size 0 frames aren’t good enough that these girls have to be airbrushed for ads and magazine covers.
And while plus sized models are making breakthroughs; most women would recognize these models as more realistic examples of themselves, not the outliers of the fashion industry they are.
Size issues aside, age is a huge unchallenged area of fashion. Models approaching their 30s are kicked to the curb in favour of the next young thing that’s coming along. The irony is that women in their 40s and 50s have the incomes and wherewithal to actually BUY the clothes that are being paraded down the runway, even if they never see the clothes modelled by someone to whom they can relate.
We need to change the fashion industry to be better at embracing true diversity – not just racial diversity which has slowly – painfully – made some breakthroughs in the last couple of decades. True diversity is reflective of the actual population – not some made-up ideal of stick-thin girls. Let’s show women they are valued, no matter their size, age or race. Let’s show our children that self-worth is not a size. And, let’s show how style, grace and dignity matter more than unachievable sizes and ageless models.