The controversy around ex-Ralph Lauren model Filippa Hamilton's ungainly distorted advertising campaign image this week has caused quite a stir in our nation. Sad to say, it's nothing new. We've heard it before over the years.
Be it an outcry from eating disorder advocates, mothers of teenage daughters or women struggling with their own body image, women are blogging questions like "When will this insanity stop?" "How can we and our children feel normal when most of the imagery we see is skewed to the prepubescent and unnaturally thin?" "Who approved this image? They're the ones who needs help!"
I remember at least three cycles over the course of my 20 year career when women revolted over the unrealistic and prepubescent size of glorified models. Saying how the unrealistic images were crippling the body image of our youth and landing them into eating disorder centers around the country (as it continues today in record and epidemic proportions, eating disorders is the leading death rate of all mental illnesses) experts, doctors, and mothers go head to head with industry fashionistas defiantly defending their covers, layouts and campaigns. Underdogs getting air time on national TV mornings and talk shows to voice their opinions, in-depth articles in women's magazines with inclusionary photos of beautiful models in a variety of sizes and talk radio waxed on and on with progressive talk about how change is coming.
Well, did it ever change? Have we made a dent in this whole issue of how we see ourselves and what is beautiful and what will we accept as too thin and too big to be an image of beauty?
As in each cycle, just when wave of acceptance and opportunity to use one's voice in the willing media would satisfy the mass' need to be heard, attention would be diverted to something else and then quietly and ever-so-subtly, the screws of the fashion industry would return to its old ways and slowly bear back down even tighter on the same images we revolted against with no lessons learned, no new pathways to enlightenment or at the very least empowerment for the women they were supposed to be serving.
I am certain the entire fashion industry needs a Body Image 101 course. Not only the airbrushing team hired by the Ralph Lauren company or the executives that had to approve the image to be released, printed and presented for use in the mass. Every single fashion industry player who has their hand in the process needs to understand in a real and personal way how their decisions affect their children, wives, lovers, and customers.
The selling products on emaciated women MUST change and the only way we can do so is by using our almighty dollar as OUR power. We must remember we are in the drivers' seat, that we are the ones with the power. So the next time you see an image that you feel degrades women in general, write/blog about the designer, store, magazine or news media source your opinion. If you don't see a change, simply stop spending your money with them and tell your friends to do the same. Bottom line is, money talks. I guarantee you will see positive changes if you take action. If you don't use it, you lose it. It's up to you and I, not waiting for "them" to change. Selling and buying clothes CAN be a joyous event and ultimately, this is point, right? It would help if "they" got it, but clearly "they" won't change until the pain of not changing is harder than the change itself. (This quote is not mine, but sooo good and very true.)
Please send the National Eating Disorders Association's website to any or all of those individuals or companies you feel could use insight to these deadly and debilitating issues.
For more information please go to: www.myneda.org