On Monday the Twitterverse went nuts with the whole Calvin Klein “plus-sized” model debate. Even I had some choice things to say offline. As it was still on my mind when I woke up this morning, I decided it was time to research the matter and delve into the real deal.
We all owe Calvin some apologies.
Let’s talk about the fashion world. Designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton called a “fit-model.” These women are very thin, waif-like, and let’s face it, clothes hang on them as if they were a clothes hanger. Which is what designers want when sending their fashion lines down the runway.
Do I agree with it? No. But it’s how things are done and they’re not going to listen to a fat chick with a serious case of fashion lust.
Model Myla Dalbesio is a size 10. If she were shopping at Target, Old Navy, etc., she’d probably be a size 6 due to sizing discrepancies. She was hired to promote the new range of lingerie with other “normal” sized models. Yes, I said “normal.” It’s in quotes, because we all know my opinion on the human body and that every body is beautiful, no matter what shape, size or color.
I was her size the first time I went on a diet for being “too fat.” I wish I were kidding you. I was also a size 10 at 5’5″ tall, so my height made me look “dumpy,” compared to relatives and friends.
Where did this come from? From Ms. Dalbesio herself. She was recently interviewed by Elle magazine about being in the campaign “I’m in the middle,” she said. “I’m not skinny enough to be with the skinny girls and I’m not large enough to be with the large girls and I haven’t been able to find my place. This [campaign] was such a great feeling.”
Calvin never said she was a plus-sized addition to this campaign. What he did say in a statement was “these images are intended to communicate that our new line is more inclusive and available in several silhouettes in an extensive range of sizes.”
An extensive size of ranges. Who would have thought a designer would want to offer more sizing options to fulfill a need in the clothing market. It’s unheard of.
What she is is a breath of fresh air. A woman other women can relate to as “the average American woman.” While she’s not someone I personally can relate to physically, Ms. Dalbesio shows arms and thighs with more flesh than you’d normally ever see in a standard campaign being ran by a high profile design house. As someone who’s read Vogue since she was 10, and yes, I know the feelings of Anna Wintour where fat people are concerned, I’ve seen the marked changes in the advertorial pieces over the past 32 years or 384 issues.
For me, it’s a return to the day of the SuperModel — Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Christy, Helena, and Claudia. Yes, they were all still very thin and fit sample sizes, but they weren’t the sylphs of today. Sample sizes have decreased due to the increased demand in smaller and smaller sizes. It’s the literal photoshopping of clothing using scissors and poor judgment, meaning the models have to take drastic measures and eat tissues or cotton balls soaked in orange juice (yes, I’m serious) which prevent them from gaining weight, yet they feel full.
People were even more outraged by the photo of her stance in the photo, as if she were sucking her stomach in and trying to make it concave. But was it Calvin Klein demanding this shot? The photographer? Or was it society?
I’m hedging a lot on society at large. Where a woman with thighs that touch, larger breasts and a tiny belly pooch are considered plus-size.
The real problem is not “size zero”. The real problem is that we live in a neurotic, miserable society with a deeply disturbed attitude to food, nurture and consumption, a society which teaches children, and particularly girls, that their growing bodies and normal desires are unacceptable and must be starved away.*
Would I like to see Calvin place a “plus-sized” model in his campaigns? Yes. I want to see every body shape and size embraced. I want my friends who are petite in height to be represented. I want my “normal friends” represented. I want my very naturally thin friends represented. My athletic friends. While I’m at it, I’d also love to see all fashion houses who produce clothing take all of these body shapes into consideration and actually create items that aren’t just their “normal clothes” sized up or down –which doesn’t work.
Calvin Klein makes a line of plus-sized fashion. It’s not marketed, because, after all, he is the man who introduced us to Kate Moss and that would go against all the fashion police stands for.