January 16, 2012

Who represents you?

I don't usually like to get too serious about fashion. It is, after all, just clothing in the end. Yes, I just said that.

I am, however, serious about the representation of "real women" and the impact photoshopping and the media have on young women.

I have a unique standpoint when it comes to the media. I have, and still do, worked as an art editor on women's magazines. Yes, the ones that retouch. I've worked on youth titles, mass titles and niche fashion titles. I'm responsible for laying out the pages and marking up the images where they need to be retouched.

I also run plus size label Damn You Alexis. We make clothes in sizes 16 to 24. I am in a singularly unique position when it comes to plus models and the controversy that is growing surrounding Plus Model Magazines "Plus size bodies, what is wrong with them anyway?" article.

The campaign features plus model Katya Zharkova, naked and surrounded by facts regarding the modelling industry and it's representation of real women. She is also featured embracing a runway model to emphasis the point of difference between 'plus' modelling and 'fashion' modelling.

I was fortunate enough to work with Katya last year in New York. She worked as the model at our SS12 presentation. The one thing that stuck me about her (apart from her striking beauty and banging body) was her fierce intelligence and passion. She feels very strongly about the discrimination plus models face when they in fact are a better representation of real women than fashion models ...

Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 23% less

Ten years ago plus-size models averaged between size 12 and 18. Today the need for size diversity within the plus-size modelling industry continues to be questioned. The majority of plus-size models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14, while the customers continue to express their dissatisfaction

50% of women wear a size 14 or larger, but most standard clothing outlets cater to sizes 14 or smaller

From my point of view, I always need to book models size 14-16 or above. I simply can't fit my samples on smaller sizes. It looks stupid. Plus people get mad. I need to show curves in my shoots. It's what it's all about. In addition, and this is important, I RETOUCH MY IMAGES BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU THINK.

I retouch out tan lines, I retouch lipstick on teeth, I retouch flyaway hair, I retouch white hands where the fake tan didn't take properly, I retouch scabs and scars, I retouch dark under eye circles, I retouch pet hair that has materialised on the clothes, I retouch creases on the clothes where I did a crap job steaming them.

So, ask yourself, are you really outraged by these things? How would you feel if a Rimmel advertising campaign featuring Kate Moss didn't retouch out her nicotine stained fingers? Probably not something you'd cut out and put on you inspiration wall is it? By retouching that image are you being sold an unrealistic idea of beauty? My answer would be no.

As for the things I don't retouch ... I don't retouch fat rolls, I don't stretch images, I don't thin necks, I don't cut off hips, I don't remove double chins, I don't cut into ankles or upper arms.

I want my model to look like she's a size 16. I need her to look like a size 16. That's why I booked her and not Gemma Ward. I wish there were more plus models a size 16 and above for me to shoot. I have already shot 2/3 of Italian Vogue's plus size cover girls - Robyn Lawley (SS12) and Tara Lynn (AW12), watch out Candice Huffine - and I'm fast running out of top models at this size.

I am really excited to see the stir Katya's pictures have caused. I think most people are aware that runway models don't represent real people. I am 100% behind diversity in fashion.

Rant over.


Anonymous said...

I don't think they are saying that runway models don't represent the average woman. What I think they are saying is that it would be nice if they, the great majority, would have the same amount of choices as a much smaller minority of women have. Equality of choice in women's fashion is their argument from what I read.

Maxey Greene said...

I loved what you wrote. You were so real and honest and boy, do I appreciate that.

Jada Sezer said...

The point they made not being able to find clothes in your size is so true! I love fashion but hate not being able to wear what I want! Purchasing what I love! Even finding the clothes available in stores! It leaves me frustrated and upset. Fashion is a way of expression and everyone no matter what shape or size should be entitled to this.

We are all beautiful!

Jada Sezer (plus size model)