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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?

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....

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

GOSeptember 22nd 2009.

I work with people with Eating Disorders and like the look of thin models, after all they look good - shock horror. There are many, many more complex and pre-disposing factors to these serious mental health issues. To think celebrity gossip and glossy magazines can cause and maintain enduring conditions such as Anorexia and Body Dysmorphic Disorder is naive, short sighted and idealistic.

sara-joSeptember 22nd 2009.

I did not think that my abbreviation of spellings would cause such response, I was in text mode and Im sure you all understood the jist of what I was saying?! In response Marilyn was a size 16, but she carried it with her large frame because she dressed in appropriate fittings. I also never stated that celebs etc was the root cause of a disorder but it does/can influence and become an element of it.

sara-joSeptember 22nd 2009.

I did not think that my abbreviation of spellings would cause such response, I was in text mode and Im sure you all understood the jist of what I was saying?! In response Marilyn was a size 16, but she carried it with her large frame because she dressed in appropriate fittings. I also never stated that celebs etc was the root cause of a disorder but it does/can influence and become an element of it.

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

the Marilyn/size 16 thing isn't true, or certainly not by today's sizes. She's often used as an example of why it's ok to be fat, but a UK size 16 now won't look anything like she did.

rosieSeptember 22nd 2009.

will you get it into your head that Marilyn was NOT a size 16. Firstly, size 16 fifty-odd years ago was nearer todays size 12. Also, bits of her (she had E cup boobs) may have been that size (then) but the woman had a waist size of between 22 and 24 inches. Most of her clothes were specially made or altered to fit as she had such an unusual shape. Size 16 women don't look like that, and if there was any chance that they did I'd be eating cream cakes all day.

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.

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

As the mother of an orthorexic (healthy eating obsession) boy. (Yes boys do get eating disorders). I would tend to agree with GO. Eating disorders are complex mental conditions, however, the constant "healthy eating" message sent out to normal (not overweight) teenagers is damaging when it is not counter-acted with messages about the dangers of going too far. My son is now 16½ and looks 14, he has stopped growing. It breaks my heart to look at him with his peers, the damage this terrible illness has done to him, and is still doing, to his health.It takes its toll on all family members too. So I applaud the fashion houses who have used size 14s, perhaps the fashionists/media will finally take notice that size zeros aren't healthy, well adjusted individuals and just might keel over and have a heart attack while they are strutting their stuff on the catwalk. Will they feel bad about promoting the "Anorexic" look then - I very much hope so.

DescartesSeptember 22nd 2009.

sara-jo where are you from and how old are you? It'd be much easier to take you seriously if you wrote in full words.

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2009.

Kate Moss has always been overrated as a model in my opinion anyway.

GOSeptember 22nd 2009.

Erm - I totally disagree! In all the time I've worked with people with Eating Disorders, which is a long time, none of my patients have ever suggested that the cause of their illness was celebs etc. Like I said before the origins of such conditions are highly complex and often stem from childhood. I certainly don't think thin celebs are realistic or representative of the majority of the population but I stand by my original comment.

ErmSeptember 22nd 2009.

GO, I cannot believe you're suggesting that magazines and skinny celebs have nothing to do with some people's eating disorders whatsoever! That in itself is naive and shortsighted!!

sara-joSeptember 22nd 2009.

I did not think that my abbreviation of spellings would cause such response, I was in text mode and Im sure you all understood the jist of what I was saying?! In response Marilyn was a size 16, but she carried it with her large frame because she dressed in appropriate fittings. I also never stated that celebs etc was the root cause of a disorder but it does/can influence and become an element of it.

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 on Mancon recently, "Sex sells, starvation doesn't". He'd know.

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