Before I Forget Theatre II

August 15, 2008 at 11:14 am (Don't Touch That Dial, Miscellaneous Meta) ()

I watched an episode of A Model Life a few days ago. Now, A Model Life is a reality show about six young models competing to earn a modeling contract with NEXT Modeling Agency. No one gets eliminated, it’s really more about the trials and tribulations of being a professional fashion model. Or something.

ANYWAY the ep I watched was the six girls getting a chance to be in a photoshoot with Gilles Bensimon (apparently a famous fashion photographer and also International Creative Director at Elle Magazine), the results of which are later discussed and critiqued by the people at NEXT. One model had a particularly good shoot and the people looking over her pictures said she could realistically model for Elle. Hooray for her?

She was 16 years old. Considering Elle is a magazine that focuses on women’s fashion and health and what not, this is pretty astounding. The ideal body to be seen gracing the pages of Elle is that of a teenager? That is the body all women should aspire to? Stick-thin puberty? Something is wrong there. I didn’t look like that when I was s16 and quite frankly I can’t think of anyone who did. It’s an unrealistic expectation of women to fit that one specific image. Not all women are white, not all women are or want to be that unhealthily thin, and no woman can turn back the clock. Skinny and bony teenagers should not be held up as the ideal for which 34.7* year old women should aspire.

In a similar vein, the International Creative Direction of Elle is a man. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but judging by the title an International Creative Director would be in charge of the creative vision and direction of Elle magazines across the globe, right? So every woman who reads Elle to see who’s wearing what, to see what’s hot and what’s not, is having their idea of beauty and body influenced by the vision of a man. Elle is supposed to be a women’s fashion and beauty and health and whathaveyou magazine. Why is a man in charge of telling women what they should aspire to look like?

* median age of Elle’s readers, according to Wikipedia. The entry’s section on weight issues in the show is arch and condescending and basically says something to the effect of modeling = bad health and if you don’t like it get out of the business. Ugh.

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