Monday, September 24, 2007

5'11" and 154 lbs is "fat?"

At least according to the British television show "Make Me A Supermodel," when model Jennifer Hunter (see picture at left), a divorced mother of one who is 5'11" and weights 154 pounds.

The show, similar to the U.S. "reality" show "America's Next Top Model," pits men and women against each other in an elimination format, with the winner getting a contract with the Select modeling agency, one of the sponsors for the show. The overall winner was a male model, but Ms. Hunter was the top female vote getter in a UK-wide phone vote. This win came after the show's judges castigated her for being "selfish" and "greedy" because she wouldn't drop "extra" weight to fit their demands. In her stead, the judges' favorite female contestant was Swedish teenager Marianne Berglund, who is supposed to weigh 112 lbs, but she appears a lot less. One commentator likened her to a concentration camp survivor. (see side-by-side comparisons of Hunter and Berglund wearing similar swimsuits here)

The judges, while cutting down Hunter, praised Berglund as having a "perfect body for modeling." If that's a "perfect body" we're in bizarro-world and someone's lost the key out.

I don't follow fashion trends, and I tend to view fashion photography with a "bus man's holiday" view. But of late I've been seeing more and more images that I find disturbing, from the heroin-chic wasted runway models to the magazine "fashion" spreads that look like sexual assaults.

Now two fashion models have recently died from self-induced starvation, and the authorities in Spain have gone so far as to regulate what the minimum body-mass-index can be for a profession model.

If it wasn't that the "fashion industry" has such a disproportionate influence in young women as they are growing I could pass it off as an aberration in the industry, but this is too pervasive.

From a meta-context viewpoint, it's also a further indication of the societal constraints that have women's lives and self-images controlled by male-dominated corporations.

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