Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Model Was Told She Was Too Fat?

Regarding body image and society, what is acceptable and what isn't? Who's responsible for the 'ideal type', and who isn't? Why do I ask? Because of this story regarding Australia's Next Top Model:
"Alissandra Moone, 18, who at 57kg is considered underweight on the Australian body mass index, was "stunned" when her size became an issue on Foxtel's top-rating show.
Judge Alex Perry has openly criticised Moone's body, likening it to "overstuffed luggage", and the clash is set to reach a head on tonight's episode."
The headline is attention grabbing for sure, but immediately we can see this story for sensationalising a seemingly innocent event:
"Perry this morning took to Twitter and Channel Nine's Mornings with Kerri-Anne to answer his critics, saying it was "incorrect reporting".
Responding to people tweeting their anger over his comments, Perry said:
@AlexPerry007@bekskins bek, watch the episode, I was referring to her posing skills in a confined space, NOT her size. Alex ;i-)"
The article continues on not even addressing the photographers position:
"The model at the centre of the controversy, Alissandra Moone, yesterday said: "It's a very bad message to be sending to young girls who watch the show. 
"It's harsh. It's stupid. And it's out of touch. I understand it's a reality of the (modelling) industry but this is a TV show and they should have a responsibility to censor that kind of thing.
"I know this has happened to other girls in the past but I was shocked when he (Perry) said I was too fat.
"I'm only a size eight. There's going to be a lot of young girls watching this who are bigger than me, and how's this going to make them feel?""
The defense raised by the photographer above, if focused on, would have reduced the force of this article, as such it is simply overlooked (which isn't to say his comments were admirable). But why, is it overlooked?

Factual reporting is key when discussing issues of bodyweight, when an incident, such as this, is obscured to push an agenda, it reinforces negative bodyweight stereotypes. As we see, the article itself is aware there is a problem, and indeed addresses the issue of public perception of women's weight:
"The average dress size for most Aussie women is a 12 to 14, while the most recent Mission Australia youth survey showed body image was the most serious concern facing young people between 11 and 24 -- above bullying, drugs and family conflict."
We are left to ask the question: "Is body image for women such an issue because of personal preference?" Or "is it an issue (to whatever extent, remains to be determined, by an article with greater investigative depth than this) due to the media, and their pushing of an archetypal body image?" The former may indeed be dependant on the media, it would be admittedly difficult to differentiate correlation from causation. If it is the latter, and I'm making a case it is, at least in the instance of this article, which distorts seemingly 'innocent' remarks about a model's pose, into a witch hunt. The authors of this article share a burden to promote healthy ideas, not biased sensationalism.

As we  continue, we see again here:
""I understand it's probably a reality of the industry but no one likes to be told they look fat - regardless of what job you are in," Moone said. "I have never thought of myself as fat. I am a health freak. I go to the gym and eat well."
A spokeswoman for the ButterFly Foundation, which is aimed at educating and supporting people with eating disorders, said: "The (fashion) industry has a responsibility for portraying women of all healthy sizes and in playing a strong educated role in the contribution they make to the serious issue of negative body image."
As the article states this girl is underweight, and above, that women and their bodyweight represent a serious concern. We have to ask; if this model is so underweight why is she being modelled on T.V., where she is easily turned into an 'ideal type'? I agree with Moone when she states above, that an underweight girl being labelled as overweight, will passively have all over 57kg women looking at themselves in the mirror asking "if she's getting called fat by professionals, what am I then?" It might be one thing if this article was based on factual reporting, but as we can see, it isn't. It is fabricating an issue, which helps to reinforce the stereotype.

It's not only the fashion industry which bears a burden to accurately portray women and women's issues, it's also the media proper, which reports on the various fashion industries, who should report on those events correctly, and to portray healthy attitudes towards women. Not to simply offer faux sincerity to circulate articles, which end up reinforcing the very stereotypes the article is morally outraged against.

Australia's next top controversy - size 8 model bullied for being too fat. Retrieved 5/09/2011-


  1. You remember years ago on Australian Idol when Dicko got in trouble for apparently calling Paulini fat? I watched that episode. She was wearing a dress that was far too tight, and kept bursting out at the sides (it had cut-outs at the hips from memory) and it wasn't a good look.

    He said she'd either have to choose a different dress, or lose a few pounds. A valid comment. Dress for your size/shape.

    But no, the media went nuts and decided he'd called her fat. What a f-cking joke. It made me so angry. He hadn't called her fat, because she wasn't. She was just wearing an inappropriate dress for a curvy girl.


  2. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that will never end. I don't mind so much about models needing to be crazy thin - that's a requirement of the job, whether we like it or not. I wouldn't go to a doctor without qualifications, so I also wouldn't hire a model without qualifications.

    It is a bit harsh to put those comments on TV though, she is too young to be put through that kind of scrutiny in public - I wouldn't want to be told that I looked like overstuffed luggage on national TV!

    I still believe it's peers and family pressures that decide your body image - girls tend to tease at the slightest percieved imperfection at school, and parents always want their child to be the best. I have a grandmother who still (I'm 30) tells me that I need a better haircut, and a tan! Magazines to me are just escapism - not a reality that I aspire to.

  3. Thanks for the comments ladies, some fair points all round.

  4. ‘Models need to be ‘crazy thin’ as a requirement of their job.’ They need ‘qualifications’!? Qualifications=starving yourself? What sort of qualifications do you think are required of a model? A medical practitioner is a little bit different than a model. Snort.

    Have a look Crystal Renn, Whitney Thompson or Robyn Lawley. Would you throw any of them off a runway? Or out of bed for that matter? They are gorgeous ... Some would argue that they are not even plus size. Yes, in fashion. Real world? No. Keep in mind that sample size for most designers is a US 2. I’m not sure that Australian brands even stock a similar size... so any one of the plus size models in a size 8/10 are considerable bigger than their counterparts. Who would prefer to see clothes modelled on? A US 2 or a US 8? US 8 Please and thankyouverymuch.

    Models are booked on trends, which is driven (in part) by what society is pushing for. The more society pushes for ’crazy thin’ models, the more they will grace the covers of magazines and campaigns. If what we want, as consumers, to have models that resemble a majority of women we need to drop the stereotype that thin=beautiful and age old model ‘requirements’.

    Just a thought.

  5. Hi Yasmin - this is all just a difference in opintion. I agree that 'normal sized' ladies are gorgeous - I am one! But models aren't by definition normal. They are as fantastical as an anime cartoon, and yes, the 'qualification' to be a catwalk model is to be over 5'8, and have a certain look. Let's face it, society isn't pushing for women to look like models, they just want to see them in magazines.

    I think if any woman thinks that 'society' wants her to look like a model, then she must have a very odd way of viewing the world, and herself. No one tells you how to think, they just tell you what to look at. I'm just saying that personal reflection is your own responsibility, not advertisers, models or the medias.

    And not all thin people starve themselves to get that way, I am a size 6-8 Aust, and I eat regularly throughout the day, no diets or calorie counting- so this mis-conception that 'normal' women are size 12 is ridiculous. What does that make me?