My petition to the Yves Saint Laurent CEO, asking her to stop using images of painfully thin models at Change.org has created quite a controversy.
My friend Jenni Chiu wrote a thought-provoking rebuttal to my story in The Huffington Post called, "Stop Making the Thin Girl Ugly," which garnered almost 6,000 shares on Facebook. She'd obviously struck a chord. The story was also picked up by the DailyMail Online.
It hadn't occurred to me that my petition might harm slender women who struggle to keep weight on.
I was discussing this with my mom over the weekend. She looked at the photo of the model in my petition and told me she'd looked just like that as a young teen. And that she'd been teased horribly for being a "bean stalk."
The fact is, I was also an incredibly thin young woman. I remember thinking (when a boy was strategizing a way to get his hands up my shirt in college), just go back to base camp, this is not a target-rich environment, there's nuthin' up there but some ribs and a clavicle.
Even though I, too, was teased for being "as flat as a pancake" and had endured my dad saying, "What're those two strings hanging out of your shorts? Oh, they're your legs!" I don't recall being traumatized by it.
That's not to say I didn't pray nightly for breasts (which I now have thanks to 20 post-partum lbs.), but I knew my body type was the prevailing one. And that most women envied my tiny silhouette.
Still, with Jenni's criticisms in mind, I tried to rationally determine what I hope to accomplish with my petition.
When I initially posted the petition I was not rational, but angry. Angry for the 98% of the American population who would have to starve themselves to appear as thin as the model in the YSL ad and angry on behalf of the model if there was a chance she wasn't eating in order to keep her job.
I realized the original wording of my petition brought out a lot of commenters who were very critical of the girl in the photo, which was not my intent. And I've had a hard time figuring out how to re-word the petition to satisfy the thin women who think I've dealt them another blow.
I suspect I won't ever be able to fully succeed in making everyone happy. So, in revisiting my petition after all the kerfuffle, I've gotten some clarity. These are the two goals I hope my petition can reach:
1. To get the fashion industry to offer healthier working conditions by allowing models to have a weight range, so should they outgrow a size 0, they aren't suddenly unemployable in the industry.
2. To require the fashion industry and advertisers to utilize several body types in their ad campaigns that accurately reflect the sizes in the human populace, so the average woman (or man) isn't influenced to starve themselves to reach some impossible ideal.
If you think these two goals are of value you can sign my petition HERE. Thus far we have 46,500 signatures and are trying to meet 50,000.
I hope you'll also check out my body image series at #LoveYourBodyNow Project: Healing Body Image Issues Through Fine Art Nudes.
Finally, if you want to keep abreast of my body image work just sign up for the newsletter HERE. xo S
Follow Shannon Bradley-Colleary on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShannonColleary