Former Austrialian Vogue Editor Speaks Out About Body Standards...But Is It Enough?
Is there a reason that fashion editors seem to think it's enough to just say that changes need to be made in the industry without actually doing anything to bring about said change? The Guardian has published an excerpt from The Vogue Factor, the memoir of former Austrialian Vogue editor Kirstie Clements. What is refreshing about the excerpt is how realistic Clements is. She doesn't pretend that the fashion industry in a place made up of rainbows and models losing weight in a healthy way. She shares horrifying stories about being around models who are regularly fed by I.V. drip because they pass out at work, or who eat tissues in an effort to feel full. She even points to the issues with Vogue's international commitment to not use models under the age of 16, or who have eating disorders. "The first part you can police," she ays. "The second is disingenuous nonsense, because unless you are monitoring their diet 24/7, you just can't be sure."
Still, it's not like Clements is gearing up to become the poster child for changing the industry standard. "It cannot be denied that visually, clothes fall better on a slimmer frame," she writes. Actually, that can be denied. Even though she acknowledges there's an issue, Clements appears to be unable to take a full step back, and see that, no, clothing does not just look good on one kind of body.
Clements goes on to say that, '"When it comes to who should be blamed for the portrayal of overly thin models, magazine editors are in the direct line of fire, but it is more complex than that." She explains the argument we've all heard a hundred times before: Sample sizes are small, models need to fit into sample sizes, models need to be small. Yeah, we get it. But is passing the blame really the best way to deal with the situation of eating disorders in the fashion industry? Vogue is such an influential presence that it's frustrating to see one of their top editors throw their hands up and say, "Yeah, I see the issue, but it's not my fault that sample sizes are so small."
In her closing remarks, Clements writes, "There are many female fashion editors who perpetuate the stereotype, women who often have a major eating disorder of their own. They get so caught up in the hype of how brilliant clothes look on a size 4, they cannot see the inherent danger in the message." This is a nice sentiment, but it's also the kind of quote that doesn't actually mean anything. At this point, what matters is editors affecting change, not simply saying that change needs to be made.