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Is size 14 too big for a model?

A designer used size 14 models at London Fashion Week and the stylist walked out in disagreement. Who is right?

Published on September 22nd 2009.

Is size 14 too big for a model?
Yes: - 24%
No: - 76%

Last week was London Fashion Week, 'the spectacle that sees 16-year-old Lithuanians galloping down the catwalk' according to our catwalk-side correspondent, Ingrid Jackson. And she does have a point. Gone are the days when five particular models were admired for their slim yet sturdy Amazonian frames. Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington are widely regarded as the original supermodels long before size zero existed.

And then came along a 14-year-old by the name of Katherine Ann Moss, better known as Kate Moss.

Moss ushered in the waif look that was to dominate the 90s and carry through to the size zeros of today. Speaking about the trend, Moss once said: "It was a swing from more buxom girls like Cindy Crawford. People were shocked to see what they called a 'waif'. What can you say? How many times can you say 'I'm not anorexic'?"

Fast forward to this year's London fashion Week and designer Mark Fast who took the size matter into his own hands, vowing to feature size 12 and 14 models in amongst the zeros.

His bold decision caused chaos behind-the-scenes, and resulted in his stylist walking out. His larger sized models, Hayley, Laura and Gwyneth took to the runway to model his knitwear designs, as planned.

Fast's managing director, Amanda May, said she was "so happy we stuck to our guns over the casting". Fast's decision to shake up the skinny world of modelling is part of a bigger revolution whereby some fashion houses, editors and models believe the narrow vision of beauty offered by the fashion world needs to be changed. Vogue magazine reportedly requested larger-sized clothes from designers for some of their photo shoots, earlier this year.

With several incidences of frail and fatigued models collapsing, suffering from anorexia and in the most extreme cases, dying, it's no wonder Fast is being hailed the 'size hero'. But aren't we missing the fundamental rules of advertising which unfortunately don't include getting people to make nice, empathetic rational decisions?

Of course, most women will say they want to see a woman they can identify with on the catwalks and in the magazines, but is a woman with a muffin top really going to sell clothes in the same way as a slimmer girl who has a figure that society (or at least the fashion world) deems more attractive? The proof will be in the figures – the sales figures.

Whilst the original supers ought to be resurrected, it could be argued that Mark Fast has gone too far in tipping the scales the other way, possibly for publicity purposes. Or maybe Fast's actions were drastic for a reason. Often it takes such action and bold statements to make a real difference, and Fast certainly has got people talking....

Do you think size 14 is too big for a model? Vote on the Manchester Confidential homepage.

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36 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

fashionista, notSeptember 22nd 2009.

Blame, I think your comments on the fashion industry demonstrate really well just how far removed from reality that particular sector is. If their clothes don't sit right on normal girls, there's something wrong with their designer skills. If BMW designed cars where the average person's feet wouldn't reach the pedals, I don't think there's too many blokes who would purchase one, so how on earth do fashion designers get away with it! Also, it's worth pointing out two things: 1) Sizes 12 and 14 ain't fat. 2) Being too skinny is as dangerous and bad for you as being fat. In fact it's probably worse.I really do think (and I should say at this point that I am a gay) that much of the fashion debate comes down to the fact that it is dominated by gay men who don't look upon the female form in the same way as straight guys or understand it in the way that a woman does.Fair play to this designer. So it's a publicity stunt - who cares - he's right!

KatherineSeptember 22nd 2009.

Picasso may look fantastic in a gallery, but I certainly wouldn't buy one for my home. Thankfully, there are loads of other artists who do cater to public taste. I doubt I'm the only one who wishes the same were true for more fashion designers.Blame says.."I know for fact that they don't think their clothes will hang right on a larger girl."Certainly true, but also extremely disappointing. Most females are larger than models and therefore are destined not to look good in your friends' clothes. I think that's a bigger problem than who gets to walk down a runway in fashion week. You don't have to be fat to not fit into designer clothes, FYI.

mike proctorSeptember 22nd 2009.

Size zero models are unattractive and often unhealthy. The fashion industry is hugely irresponsible.

fashionista, notSeptember 22nd 2009.

Sorry Blame I wasn't having a pop at you - I just reread my post and it kinda reads like I was. However, I think my car analogy stands - the whole point of a concept car is that you WOULD want to drive it. Concept cars put the driver and the driver's experience at the centre of it. They may never get made, but bloody hell you'd love to own one. Fashion designers don't seem to know who their customers are. The customers are are, like the pipecleaner models themselves, an irritating distraction from the designer's own sense of "brilliance". Anyway, I'm going to get the bus home, and might have a Krispy Kreme donut on the way! Girls, you should all do the same. To hell with the catwalk!!!! By the way, blame, how do you get your paragraph breaks. I used to type < followed by p followed by > but that doesn't work anymore!

sara-joSeptember 22nd 2009.

I work in an Eating Disorders Unit and after 1 day of being in there I assure u ur views on 'thinness' dieting , models, image an food will b challenged. Mags, image, an disordered food/diet/body images an views r inter linkd with mags an models an celebs. more awareness an positive body image needs to b targeted at impressionable young girls who r inevitable at a vulnerable age. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16, althou there wasnt the media attention an mags as today, her confidence an security in her acceptance of her sexual body oozed out of her an it showed, her weight was not an issue. girls at school arent informed enough re@their changing body shape an the fact that they shold embrace it whilst staying healthy. I think there is nothing more attractive than curves, its part of being female

ELSeptember 22nd 2009.

Sara-Jo, that's a good insight. Nice one. Although... did it take a lot of effort to write that badly whilst obviously being very bright?! But yeah, like Gordo said recently, "Sex sells, starvation doesn't". He'd know.”

east lancsSeptember 22nd 2009.

Apparently we're all fat; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8269462.stm

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

I am a size 14 and I prefer to see slothes on smaller models, i am not asking for size zero models but a size 10/12 is not too slim or too big.

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

apart from those whose job is to be or look a certain way (the boys have Brad, George etc to 'aspire' to) extremes of body shape/size and related eating disorders are usually rooted in poor mental health. Anorexics don't starve themselves because they wannabe Kate Moss. The old chestnut about Marilyn being a size 16 is completely untrue and gives overweight women an excuse to be so. As much as I think that size 0 is rediculous, bigger women (size 14 plus) in the public eye shouldn't be used as examples of how we should look.

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

erm.........showing my age here obviously.

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

or complete lack of knowledge about shitty pop music?

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

Quite simply.....give me Sophie Dahl's curves over those skinny Mulberry models bones any day! Frankly, those skinny girls make me feel very queasy! :-$

DidsburyGirlSeptember 22nd 2009.

Have you seen Sophie Dahl recently?? Shes a fraction of the woman she used to be.

OSeptember 22nd 2009.

Fat girls are trouble... first of all they eat more than skinny girls at the restaurant... they always want a desert, then they mess with your car on the way home when you go over a speed bump cos one side of the car is lower to the ground, then they take up all the room in the bed, then eat all your sausage and bacon in the morning. Only crazy fools loves fat chicks.

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

hey O you forgot to point out that they are usualy more "greatful"

cookieSeptember 22nd 2009.

Just to clarify a point. A size 16 in Marilyn Monroe's day was nearer to today's size 12. Girls are getting bigger and taller and that trend needs to be reflected on the catwalk. If clothes look better on skinny birds then designers need to get out of their anorexic mindset and design stuff that hangs beautifully on bigger girls. Anna Scholz manages it, so why can't others?

JBSeptember 22nd 2009.

The fashion world needs to take some reponsibility for the increase in eating disorders and people unrealistic body image. I dont think all models should be plus size. There should be a mix of shapes and sizes on the catwalk to reflect reality. 'O' is a an ignorant fool and I only hope they dont have to unfortunate experience of having someone close to them developed an eating disorder. Ive suffered from one for over 15 years and its a struggle to stay 'clean' everyday. Constant images of models and celebs are dangerous. I also work in a school and find the girls especially preoccupied with their weight. It makes me sad to know they are heading in my direction. The fashion world needs to wake up and 'O' needs to visit an eating disorder clinic and see if they still think their comments are as hilarious...people like 'o' are as responsible as the fashion designers..

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

with all due respect JB, the fashion industry didn't cause your eating disorder. That is wholly down to whatever goes on inside your head (which unfortunately doesn't include a sense of humour).

not botheredSeptember 22nd 2009.

Is it me or has anyone else noticed that 'skinny chicks' are always miserable? I don't know what 'O' is on about - at least you can take a normal girl out to Greggs...simples.

east lancsSeptember 22nd 2009.

Good plan; from now on I'm only going for girls who do Greggs... as long as it's less than me ;o)

emma graceSeptember 22nd 2009.

Never mind the women, men are shrinking all around us! I blame Russell Brand and those skinny jeans of his. I can't imagine anything worse than dating a bloke with smaller thighs than me!

east lancsSeptember 22nd 2009.

Emma, we should talk!

MussoliniSeptember 22nd 2009.

'Not bothered'- Greggs really? Who The Fk goes there? Its not even food. I do not think as Rosie does that the fashion industry caused the eating disorder. Big girls need to reailse, you can be big as long as you have big wango's to make up for it. WHo honestly wants a big bird? No-one right. The thing that makes me laugh about big people is they always moan, oh im too fat, this that and the other blaa blaa blaa whilst they eat 3 burgers. Not cool. Maybe they should get down the gym 3 times a week like me. Then i'm sure they would loose weight. Skinny girls rule. No bigger than 12!!!

JSeptember 22nd 2009.

But size 12 in the fashion world is too big???? And there is no need for the attitude...people come in all shapes and sizes, not everyone finds it easy to stay slim let alone get down to a size 12 or less. As long as a person is healthy and happy, that is the main thing...and that might be as a size 14!

LouSeptember 22nd 2009.

I think that the fashion industry gets too much blame for the whole size zero thing. After all there are only a handful of famous models. A massive amount of the population will not see much of fashion week, whereas they will read trashy magazines.Who has more influence the models in the mulberry ad or Cheryl Cole?Magazines don’t help promote a consistent body image, they complained that Jessica Simpson was way too thin, and when she gained a few pounds they slapped her on the cover and called her fat and said she was binge eating, poor girl couldn’t win.

GregSeptember 22nd 2009.

To make a cliched but true statement, fat is a feminist issue so it's sort of beside the point, and not a little arrogant, when men wade in to say "I do/don't fancy fat/skinny/curvy women." Er, so what? That isn't really what makes the fashion industry a multi billion pound entity. Ask a mature intelligent woman who also has body issues - their approval has to come from other women as much, if not more, than men. They certainly aren't preoccupied with appearing ****able to the sort of man that would take them to Greggs in any case. Bless.

ktfairySeptember 22nd 2009.

I am a size 16 - but at 5' 11" I would challenge anyone who says I'm fat. I have been a size 12 as an adult but only did this with the gym every other day and eating nothing but veggie stir frys with no sauce on them. It made me happy at the time but it does not now. I love food - but I certainly don't take it too excess and eat a very balanced diet. I exercise too. I'm fed up of eveyone saying 16 is fat - if I was 5' it would be fat, but I'm not. Thankfully most clothes shops now cater for my size - shame they don't always cater for my height. The good thing about being a 16 - I now have boobs and no longer need the boob job I was thinking of when I was a size 12.

Curvy and proudSeptember 22nd 2009.

I've been a size 14/16 for as long as I can remember and while as a teenager this caused me all sorts of self-doubt, grief and mental anguish, as I've got older I've more than grown into my curves and now realise I've had one fantastic body for a long time - I was just too young to realise it before. Can assure you that I've never been short of male admirers, I am healthy and confiden, love my food and am often complemented by my female friends on my figure as well. It was bad enough when I was a kid but I really feel for today's teenage girls and the horrid stereotypes of the so-called 'ideal' body they are subjected to and the pressures they are under to be super skinny. We should be teaching young girls (and boys - anorexia among young men is a growing problem) to be fit and healthy, to love being active and eating great food and to rejoice in their bodies whatever their size or shape. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.

not botheredSeptember 22nd 2009.

Greg, relax, it's a joke! Sorry about a butty chain bearing your name. Your mom should called you....Kevin!

muffin topSeptember 22nd 2009.

Don't get me wrong, the cat walk models can be a bit scrawney but this huge jump from scrawney to 14/16 is too much for me, curvey yes but 5'11 or 4'2 the beer gut and muffin top is just a huge turn off.It's the girls that eat **** food and and cram themselves in to cheap Primarni fashion that switch me off, How many women out there want to see men with beer guts and arses hanging out of hipster jeans? Russell Brand was in fashion of late and he's a right skinny twat! No, the perfect 10 that wears a 12 will do me ta...

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

You do have to take into account the height of most models. They tend to be very tall, around the 6 foot mark, and as such can't really have a healthy weight under a size ten or twelve. This issue has been in the news a lot lately since the "picture that shocked the fashion world" of a plus size model with a small fold of loose skin around her middle. To be honest I've found the whole "healthy doesn't mean fat" debate a bit offensive. I'm a size 6-8 and 5"4 but I have a roll of fat around my middle and my thighs are proportionately large to my frame (though I exercise regularly). My thighs have actually been commented on by strangers in the street! And not in a good way! At a BMI of 20 and a small dress size I shouldn't really attract attention like that. I think our perspectives have become dangerously skewed. And I can honestly say that I want to lose weight, even though I know that this would be a bad idea. Public opinion really does get to you.Fashion models *are* role models. We see them all over magazines and other media and we are told they are beautiful. When I was a teenager I aimed to be just like them. I had no idea what weight I'd have to lose to do that and how unhealthy I'd be. I don't think models should be like the average English woman because at 5"4 and a size 14 the average woman is slightly overweight and this is no better. For a MODEL to be a size 14 though, at their height, WOULD be ok.As far as the health issue goes - you'll die a hell of a lot quicker as a size zero (if you're average height) or a 6 (if you're tall) than you would if you're slightly overweight.

xxSeptember 22nd 2009.


MissBoobySeptember 22nd 2009.

Fashion industry is partly to blame, but mostly I blame Burger King.....In all seriousness, I can't see this whole issue being the responsibility of one area, you often read about female actors that are told to drop weight to get the good roles in Hollywood, so is anybody going to come down on the Film Industry anywhere near as hard? You have to either be a lesbian or funny to make it as a fat actress....

not botheredSeptember 22nd 2009.

When kids grow up they need to learn to cross the road without getting hurt. Many women need to learn to get over their issues of weight loss, body shape, hair colour etc. Be sensible and there is an 80% chance that you will live happily!

emmySeptember 22nd 2009.

Why has it got to be one or the other? I'm all for larger models but surely health is the most important thing. Size 16 is no healthier than size 0 (ok maybe a bit). Back in the day models like Cindy Crawford etc were labelled thin but the past few years it's gotten so rediculous even they look on the larger size! 'Cookie' you are absolutely right about Marilyn Monroe....it does my head in when people go on about her being a size 16....her waist was 23 inches for god's sake, mine is 28 and I wear size 12! Lets get a bit of perspective here. I think catwalk can get away with using smaller models (by smaller I mean size 6-10) and editorial should use a wide range - AS LONG AS THEY'RE HEALTHY!

BodyGossipRuthSeptember 22nd 2009.

If this conversation proves anything, it's that the issues of body image are hugely important and need to be addressed in a positive way. There's a campaign called Body Gossip that is trying to do just that - I launched it in 2006 because, as a size 12 actress, I was encouraged to lose weight to get film roles. I refused, and launched Body Gossip to celebrate and empower real body shapes.The concept of Body Gossip is simple - real people write their real stories about their real bodies, send them to story@bodygossip.org, and the most powerful and passionate stories are performed by well-known people such as Natalie Cassidy, Anne Diamond and Nikki Grahame, and Manchester's own Shobna Gulati. These actors donate their time to the campaign, to raise awareness for the struggle that real people face in the 'beauty battle'.So, if you're interested in the discussion above, maybe you'd like to write your own story, send it in the Body Gossip campaign, and your story could be performed either live on stage, or online, to celebrate and support REALISTIC BEAUTY.

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