|The skinny on the media|
by Dan MacRae
Way back in the days of yore (September of last year to the layman), the braintrust of Madrid's fashion week decided to put a ban on underweight models. If the models were too thin, their sister-of- Skelator asses would be kicked to the curb. Newspapers and advocacy groups applauded the decision, but for me it symbolized something else - that we as a society are so dumb, we need inter- national agencies to protect us from ourselves and inform us that models are (gasp!) dangerously thin. I hate that it comes to this. Anyone who is remotely familiar with fashion is aware that these walking clothing distribution systems (their shoulder blades are like coat hangers for good reason) are not the picture of perfect health. The occupation of runway model is one that has the understood conven- tions of being at an abnormal level of skinny, and this is understood by both the models and the public. Ditto the physical hazards of human-growth-hor- mone-drunk bodybuilders, or the latest porn star trying to break a gang bang record. Still, there's always this outcry that there is a distorted image of beauty produced by the "media." As though there's this massive conspiracy to doom the world's youth to being rail thin, even though the media would actually profit more from increased ad revenue by companies wanting to turn us into junk-food-dependent blobs. The secret, dirty, unspoken truth is that you either have to be deliberate- ly ignorant or whacked out of your gourd to put this much blame on the media. Anyone with an ounce of awareness can figure out that magazine cov- ers get airbrushed, not everyone is six feet tall, and that celebrities enjoy cos- metic surgery. These aren't closely guarded trade secrets - these tidbits are common knowledge. Realistic body image is taught in elementary school health classes, and result in countless public service announcements clogging up valuable space that could be used for cereal commercials. With all this knowledge drilled into our porous noggins, why is personal accountability being ditched to com- plain about our helplessness to the geniuses that run trashy tabloids or give Niki Taylor the time of day? We're smarter than that. This isn't to say that people who have problems with their self-esteem are stupid, far from it. My problem is the knee-jerk reaction to blame the evil Megazord that is TV/movies/magazines. By doing so, this is oversimplifying what is a legitimate and medically recognized problem (or diseases, if we're talking about eating disorders). The relationships individuals have with their weight or appearance is a complex mish-mash of things, that humanity has been in constant flux with long before the cover of US Weekly stared you in face at the Safeway check-out stand. When it comes to things like underfed models, I say let ‘em be. It's prob- ably the libertarian desires I store deep in my belly, but these models in Madrid have every right to be as skeletal and unhealthy as they want to be. It's their body and their choice. And it's our choice to laugh at how ridiculous it is because we're in on the joke. We know the score. Besides, I'd hate to think Nicole Ritchie's ghoulish mug has that much pull on our lives.