Having modeled for over a decade, I’ll be the first person to admit it: My standards for what should be considered “average” in the body department are warped as f*^k. When constantly surrounded by women clocking in at 5’11 and hovering around 120 pounds, the industry standard (if not a bit higher, to be brutally honest), your standards fall right in line. It’s not that you expect other women to look the same, but you do expect other models to… in order to hold up their end of the proverbial beauty bargain, I suppose. And so, when I saw this picture, I didn’t seen an emaciated teenager, I saw a cute, beachy blonde with knobby knees and nice teeth. Which, I imagine, is exactly what Hollister likely thought when they originally ran the photo.
But the Internet–who apparently did not spend half of their life in a designer’s fitting room getting asked if they had “too many cookies” the weekend before like I did–didn’t really agree. And so all sorts of Twitterers got all in arms about her, well, legs.
I understand that soaking our publications and advertisements with nearly impossible standards of beauty is 100% crappy for the developing self-esteem of young women, as well as, I imagine, grown women alike. For a clothing line that panders to them specifically, I imagine it’s even worse. But what about the self-esteem of this young woman–this model–who is, no matter what her negligible BMI, just a girl, with as many insecurities and fears as every other teenager out there. Is thin shaming acceptable? It amounts to bullying, and just because it happens to be a beautiful person getting the brunt of it, we let it slide. Fat, short, tall, thin. A body is a body… with a person inside.
What I understand the least is that every waking moment of every single day, we are inundated with images of bodies and faces frankly beyond our grasp, many times featuring people who likely err on the side of “too thin” by normal standards. So why on earth does this single photograph rattle the world when there are 200 more floating around right at this moment. If we’re going to start running towards fashion gate’s bearing pitchforks, you’re going to have to burn down the whole castle, not just hang the barmaid.
Photo courtesy of Hollister.