OUR OBSESSION WITH SKINNY

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. – Kate Moss

Clearly, Kate’s never had a good helping of seafood linguine with smoked pancetta.

Perhaps I’m digging up old news, seeing as this statement had been made back in 2009. But what’s now become a sartorial soundbite which is an active mantra in anorexic propaganda can’t exactly be classified as old news. It’s actually the status quo, or rather an intrinsic part of the fabric. So yes, I will bring up this old chestnut again.

Where had it all begun? Why skinny? At which point in Western history was it decided that frailty and androgyny was the ultimate form of – ironically – feminine beauty? There was of course the Flapper of the 1920s and Twiggy in the 60s, but up until the 1990s, the female form was in a constant and capricious flux, with a multitude of body types shaping eras. Then the heroine chic came along and we haven’t been able to shake off the emaciation fetish.

Image above: Flapper dancers

 

There are several theories, one more complex and more politically incorrect than the next. For example, there’s the belief that since the fashion industry is primarily dominated by gay men, the resulting aesthetic is based on this orientation’s attraction towards the slender male figure. (I shall now continue to write this article in an underground bunker in the depths of darkest Peru, where hate mail and complaints by offended parties can’t reach me.) Then there’s the theory that thinness came about with the rise of feminism, with women wanting to shed anything womanly about them – including their physical assets – in order to become more equal to men. There are other conclusions, and most of them contain some semblance of half truths.

I say this is a Western phenomenon because there are societies in Africa whose attitudes towards the female form stand in stark contrast to ours. In Mauritania, leblouh is a thriving practice, where young girls are sent to fat camps to be force-fed 16,000 calories a day, in order to become morbidly obese – a physical state that is seen as sexually desirable according to custom. This in turn will increase the girl’s chances of procuring a husband.

Image above: A young woman being force fed in Mauritania

 

What a funny old world we live in. In the continent of Africa, you can either be stuffed or starved to death. In Hollywood, USA an actress in preparation for a movie role will potentially be on a less nourishing diet than a starving child in Eritrea or an Auschwitz prisoner (again, I’m staying well and truly put in Peru). All this is unscientific hyperbole from my part of course, but that we have half the population in the developed zone purposely and drastically limiting their food intake is tragically ironic.

It’s also agitating that for a world that has thankfully raised so much awareness on embracing racial diversity and ethnicity, we have women worldwide trying to achieve physical proportions and attributes that can only be attained if you’re of Nordic, Baltic or Northern European origin… in other words, Aryans. There, I said it (Peruvian bunker, here I come). Women are being pushed to force their bodies into shapes they’re not meant to be, and by failing to do so, are made to feel inadequate for not being Caucasian enough.

Image above: Size Zero

 

There’s nothing groundbreaking that we can do about it. For years, women have been campaigning about this, but to little or no avail. We’ve still got airbrushed magazines pushing us to diet and pointing out flaws we never thought we had. We’ve still got a fashion industry that is adamant on only using one body type. If anything, it’s got worse, so much so that we’re expected to photoshop ourselves prior to posting pictures on social media. So much so that we’ve got girls aged between five and seven who are already on a diet.

So what is there left for us to do? Keep fighting and break the skinny cycle within our circle. Take pleasure in exercise. Call out fat shamers like Karl Lagerfeld for the misogynists that they really are. Love good food. Scribble ‘photoshop’ a million times over covers and adverts. Above all, remember that your worth lies in your mind and heart, not your size.