Wednesday, 23 November 2011

'Bigger people look ridiculous'

On Monday 21st November, the year 12s at my school embarked on what was presented as an 'obligatory RE day'. We had two guests present whom were named 'Faith Child' (up and coming rapper) and Simon Ward (Chief Operating Officer of the British Fashion Council, summarised by Ward himself as an 'important person'!). The topic of this RE day was, in summary, the discussion of personal appearance as well as self confidence, including encouragement of our individuality.

I am a very strong believer in one's originality and in keeping true to ourselves by not allowing others to change us and not allowing our personalities to become malleable. As soon as my Textiles class was notified that Ward was in the building, we rushed down to the hall but found that sadly we'd missed his focused talk at the beginning of the lengthy presentation. We waited to see if he would talk a little more and found our efforts were not wasted as he got up with Faith Child for a brief question time led by our girls. What I write next is what I felt was a most controversial opinion by someone in such an influential position.

The girls began to ask very valid and extensive questions raising the issues of weight and appearance of many models in the fashion business. One girl asked, 'Why do the models used in the fashion industry have to be too thin and promote an unhealthy skinny image?'. His response included comments such as 'bigger people look ridiculous' and 'smaller sizes look best, it looks best that people look slimmer'. A personal favourite of mine was 'when they get anorexia, they are properly looked after'! Shouldn't the emphasise be on the artistic capability of the fashion designer to demonstrate that they can make anyone look good despite their shape or size, whatever their measurements may be? The fundamental question is why models might become anorexic in the first place? What is the psychological driving force which pushes them to this point and how can this be prevented?

Ward went on to suggest that 'the taller height is what is best for camera angles'. What would a creative and talented photographer's take be on this I wonder?

Ward explained that he is a Christian man but isn't it a Christian's ethos to accept another person's individuality and not to discriminate or exclude because a person's physique doesn't fit the ideal form for glamourous fashion and photography?

I am not necessarily angry with Mr Ward for sharing his, what I deemed to be, controversial views - just a little disappointed. After all, this was supposed to be an inner beauty and self-esteem day! On a final and positive note, however, Faith Child offered some redeeming words as he expressed his views on inner beauty and confidence which were in sharp contrast. I only hope that unanswered questions may one day be answered and that we will begin to see a mosaic of models in the future.
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