A couple months ago I attended a designer trunk show that was being filmed for an episode of the Fashionista Diaries, SoapNet's docu-drama series that's following a group of public relations interns as they try to hack it in New York's uber-competitive fashion industry.
The filming marked my first foray into reality television and I have to admit that at the time I was excited to be there. I watched as Tiffany Koury, an up-and-coming designer, talked with the main players of the show, the tiny, whiny-voiced Bridget and Laurie, a gorgeous, likeable blonde. And for most of the filming I hung back and watched the entire alarmingly uneventful evening unfold.
But then, at the end of the night, a magazine editor arrived at the trunk show, and things took a severe turn for the worse. The editor is extremely thin, with long blonde hair and pale skin; she's hardly the picture of good health. When the subject of lunch came up, she talked enthusiastically about how much weight one can lose by skipping it. "Have you lost weight yet?" she asked Laurie, who is tall and thin, but not as rail-like as her costar Bridget. The producers seemed to like this line of talk and prompted the editor to repeat over and over her endorsement of anorexia.
At first I rolled my eyes. But when the conversation continued as if it was entirely healthy, and yes, wonderful, to never eat lunch -- or, from the looks of the editor and Bridget, any well-balanced meal ever -- I had to interrupt. Both as a mother of a young daughter and as someone who has a little meat on her bones and believes fashion is not just for the size zeros of the world, I felt a responsibility to intercede.
"You need to make time to have lunch. You need to find time to get your nourishment," I told the group. Laurie nodded, grateful to hear a voice of reason. Then we ate cupcakes, all of us, even Bridget, who devoured hers in less than a minute. The only exception was the skinny editor, who permitted herself the tiniest nibble of icing before discreetly discarding the rest.
Of course, the producers chose not to air my comments or the cupcake eating. I guess they think that promoting eating disorders -- and making it look like everyone in the fashion industry has one -- makes for better television.