Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Women’s bodies have always been theater, and this is just another act."

i meant to post this article by Emily Nussbaum, The Incredible Shrinking Model, from New York magazine last week, but i just never got around to it. it's the best piece i've read about the whole debate regarding models and weight...are they too thin? are they just naturally that way, or are they starving themselves? will a minimum BMI solve the problem? and can we expect the fashion industry to moderate themselves?

it's a wonderful piece, not just because Nussbaum gets some models to admit to some unsavory truths, but because she presents models not as prestigious glamazons who inspire envy, but as "nameless, faceless manual laborers," many underage, many from poor Eastern European countries, desperate to make a living for themselves and their families. so starving themselves seems like a small price to pay for what they hope will be a fairy tale rise to fame and fortune like that of Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova. i finished this article feeling mostly pity for these young women, wishing i could adopt them and make them chili.

then, a few days ago, i finally watched Thin, the HBO documentary that goes inside Renfrew Center, an eating disorders treatment center in Florida. what disturbed me most is how "normal" these women looked to me. is that how conditioned i am? i'm afraid so. the Renfrew women don't look thinner than the women we see on television shows and in the media. sadly, my first thought upon seeing one woman was, "she's not so bad." then, she hops on the scale, and the numbers read "84.5." (ugh. i weighed 85 pounds in the 5th grade) imagine my horror when she reveals that she's been feeding herself through a feeding tube for the past 2 or 3 years because she won't eat.

"normal," my ass.

in the documentary, one of the girls comes in to get weighed and have her vital signs checked. she has to slip out of her gown to show the nurse that she hasn't been cutting herself. (below is a screen grab of that scene) it seemed familiar, like i'd seen this image before...

then it struck me how very similar it is to this image of a model that accompanied the New York magazine article.

1 comment:

haith said...

you should also check out the "food diary" feature in that same issue of NY mag...i don't know if the model overestimated her intake or not, but the most shocking diary belonged to anne slowey, a fashion editor at ELLE. and i'd be willing to be many women envied her "restraint."