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Tuesday
Mar062012

Susie Orbach Speaks at the UN Commission on the Status of Women

UN Commission on the Status of Women 2012 Image © UK Home OfficeOn February 29, 2012 Susie Orbach, convenor of AnyBody/UK Endangered Bodies delivered the following speech at the event "Body Image in the Media: Using Education to Challenge Stereotypes" during the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

© Susie Orbach 2012

I’m very pleased to be speaking here today on this historic occasion.

It has been customary for the west to bemoan and critique the appalling forms of violence practiced against girls and women in the rest of the world – FGM, rape as a tactic of war, forced marriage.

In this focus what has been overlooked have been the vicious body practices that girls and women have come to take on themselves in the west in the mistaken belief that they are doing good for themselves.

 These include:

  • Self-starvation and the often bulimic response--compulsive eating and vomiting.
  • The surgical transformation of breasts, legs, stomachs, cheek bones to conform to the latest beauty ideal
  • The use of diet and pharmaceutical products to suppress appetite
  • The botoxing of 5 year olds

The west congratulates itself on its distance from Eastern practices of foot binding which constrained and limited women. It fails to see the links between toe operations carried out now to enable women to fit into the latest 4 inch high heels.

The west smugly criticises FGM while sanctioning labiaplasty and the remaking of the genital lips which has become a growth area for cosmetic surgeons.

The west makes appeals about famine victims in the southern hemisphere but has failed to notice the voluntarily insane food practices that exist in their own countries.

The west hasn’t noticed that these are forms of violence and constraint for women. And they haven’t noticed for three important reasons.

The first is that the idea of beauty has been democratised – extended to all. The second is that simultaneously, the ideal of what beauty is has narrowed.

Beauty is no longer seen as intrinsic to the individual. Instead the individual is judged on how well she can shape herself to today’s aesthetic which is tall, white, blonde, long haired and big breasted.

The imperative of beauty traverses class and age. From 5 to 80, girls and women learn they need to look at themselves from the outside whatever they are doing to make sure they look good. This demand can produce severe anguish, self-alienation, eating problems, body distortions and disturbing mental health issues.

The third reason is connected to the other two in significant ways. It is the engine which feeds the tyrannical hold that beauty exercises on girls and women’s energies, dollars and sense of self. It relates to those industries which grow rich on creating body distress and body hatred in girls and women.

These industries look like they are benevolent and helpful. In fact they are quite the opposite.

The beauty companies, the fashion houses, the diet companies, the food conglomerates who also of course own the diet companies, the exercise and fitness industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the cosmetic surgery industry combine together, perhaps not purposefully or conspiratorially, to create a climate in which girls and women come to feel that their bodies are not ok. They do this through the promotion of celebrity culture, through advertising on every possible outlet from billboards to magazines to our electronic screens, through the funding of media outlets which can only exist because of their economic support.

Taking on any one of these industries is difficult and will pose the same kind of challenges as taking on tobacco who also portrayed themselves as health giving and benevolent. The profits of WW’s for example were up 25.3% in 2011[1]. We are talking big money. We are talking about a company whose product needs to fail in order for it to keep selling. If dieting worked you would only have to do it once. There would be no repeat customers.

As immoral and unethical as the activities of these companies are in and of themselves, the economics of growth as we currently conceive it depends upon their extending their markets. L’Oreal’s growth rate in China is 26%. They achieve this not by marketing their lipsticks and hair products to Chinese women per se but by marketing the western body as the body to have to Chinese women. They and the other beauty, fashion, media companies promote the western body to the new economies as a way of finding a place to belong in the maelstrom and confusion of modernity.

Alongside the disseminating of western ideals of beauty to Asia, Africa and South America, is the export of the consequences of these ideals: body hatred and body anxiety. This is the emotional fallout from the endeavours of these industries and the basis on which they make their extraordinary and obscene profits.

This is a not an easy target to attack. These industries are not small and their damage is great. They are mining bodies as though they were a commodity like coal or gold.  Women’s bodies all over the world are being designated as profit centres.  

As the western ideal becomes plastered over the globe we bear witness to the loss of indigenous bodies. This is a new frontier of colonialism. Mad eating is normalised. Western style bodies are revered and local bodies are swallowed up as fast as demise of local languages. We must stop it. And now.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Weight Watchers International, Inc. (WTW) Q4 2011 Earnings Call February 14, 2012 5:00 PM ET

Monday
Feb202012

"Yes, We Carry Your Size"

Argentine Mannequins: Size 46 (L) vs. "One Size Fits All" (R) Photo Credit ©Sharon HaywoodBy Sharon Haywood, Director of AnyBody Argentina

In Argentina, I’m a size 44 (UK 16/US 14)[1]. I feel branded by this number. Last year when I was searching for a wedding dress, all I had to do was observe the saleswoman’s reaction when she looked my way and I knew that I wasn’t going to find anything. I consistently hear the same worn-out phrase: “We don’t carry your size.” In the majority of shops I’m lucky if I fit into the largest size. In other stores, the only option is “one size fits all”: sometimes it fits; a lot of the time it doesn’t. In spite of all this madness, I don’t have a problem saying that I use a size 44. In fact, I am one of the majority, part of the average female population. Even though I’m Canadian, I’m also of Italian descent and short in stature, so as long as I don’t speak, people think I’m Argentine. Although many Argentine women have bodies similar to mine, it's common to hear them say that they would like to lose weight to be able to fit into a size 42 or even a 40. Others say that 38 is their ideal size.

This is what AnyBody Argentina’s[2] ongoing investigation has revealed after surveying hundreds of women between sizes 36 and 54. Through our research we discovered that more than 50% of women would like to drop a dress size. As well, approximately 65% have trouble finding fashionable clothes that fit. If we combine this information with the extreme lack of size law compliance[3], and the fact that eating disorders for Argentine girls and women are at epidemic levels, what we have is a profound health crisis.

When considering how to attack the issue of retailers not respecting the size law, we were guided by the quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In this spirit, we decided to take a different route. Instead of punishing non-complying brands with fines, we choose to congratulate those that are making a sincere attempt at complying. In July 2011 we launched our campaign with the objective of positively contributing to the health of girls and women by singling out the brands that respect body diversity. Consumers can identify these retailers via the AnyBody sticker, which features the internationally recognized female symbol in shop windows. When we launched the campaign, we congratulated two Argentine brands, VER and Portsaid, and now, we are extremely proud to add another national retailer, Yagmour, which currently offers various items that range between sizes 38 and 54. Furthermore, Yagmour is committed to work with AnyBody Argentina until it achieves 100% size law compliance.

On a personal note, I am thrilled that these brands provide me with a wide variety of the latest fashions so I can now avoid the trauma of being rejected. It’s important to underscore that our campaign is designed for all women who fall within the average, in other words, women who wear up to a size 52 or 54, as current size laws exclusively address this demographic.

Female consumers only need to come across our pink sticker and they can be sure to hear, “Yes, we carry your size.”

 * * *

Página 12, a leading national Argentine daily newspaper, published the original article on January 13, 2012 in Spanish titled “65% of Women Have Problems Finding Clothes in Their Size”.

 


[1] When shopping in North America I typically wear between a size 6 and 10, much smaller than is indicated in conversion charts revealing sizing issues are not just an issue confined to Argentina.

[2] Part of the global campaign www.EndangeredBodies.org.

[3] The current law in the province of Buenos Aires mandates that stores offer most clothing items in standardized sizes of 38 to 48.

Tuesday
Dec132011

Is This the Death of the Diet Industry? 

In January I'll be giving evidence at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image inquiry into body image anxiety in UK society. At the two-month inquiry, MPs will be quizzing the diet, cosmetic surgery, fitness and fashion industries as well as representatives from the media and advertising industries. The inquiry is an attempt "to debate the causes and consequences of body image anxiety."

The two words I'm most interested in are 'causes' and 'consequences'. Because if it's true that these will be seriously debated, we're going to be digging into areas that will make the government and the media severely uncomfortable (not to mention Weight Watchers, who will also be giving evidence). It's well known among scientists and researchers, for instance, that dieting is a direct cause of weight gain and the vast majority of people starting a diet on Monday will be certain to end up heavier than they are now.

And it's thanks to high-profile campaigners, such as Susie Orbach and her #DitchingDieting campaign and the untamed nature of the internet (which has allowed a few irrepressible independent studies to break out), that the weight-loss industry's iron grip on the media gateway has been prized open a little (hopefully breaking some fingers along the way). But the truth gets watered down when it reaches the public: the overall messages are still: "Here's what you should look like," and "Here's what you should do to achieve it." And the pressure to be thin is still universally served up to the public with a side-dish of dieting.

So while I can now openly state my favourite quote: "The diet industry is the most successful failed business in the world," in certain circles and people will readily agree, half a decade ago this was thought of as weird, especially when said to my yo-yo dieting friends who would smile blankly and tell me how many calories were in the Jaffa Cake I was eating. But it's still only an 'underground' truth, perhaps because of the seeming lack of alternatives to dieting. I think everyone's afraid if the public are told to stop dieting, everyone will go into one long binge and get so fat that we'll have to spend tax payers' money on widening the doors. The fact that dieting is causing everyone to go on one long binge anyway is being ignored.

Thursday
Sep012011

Any-Body in Argentina: Seeking Size Law Compliance

By Sharon Haywood

Fashion in Buenos Aires is no frivolous matter. Apart from being the fashion capital of Latin America, the first season of Project Runway Latin America was held in Buenos Aires and almost a third of the reality show’s participants were Argentine. Home-grown designers have no shortage of venues to showcase their work: Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Argentina Fashion Week, and Buenos Aires Moda all attract national media coverage. And most recently, the Buenos Aires government has launched Buenos Aires Runway, where the country’s newest designers exhibit their work via regular fashion shows and conferences. Considering what big business fashion is in Argentina, it’s perplexing that retailers sell clothes that only about 30% of average-sized women can wear.

That’s right. Seven out of ten women struggle to find their size in the latest trends. What’s more discouraging is that this reality exists in spite of municipal and provincial laws created specifically to eradicate designers’ and retailers’ preference for smaller sizes. The size law in the capital requires that retailers stock eight sizes (usually AR 36-50/UK 8-22/US 6-20) and the law in the province of Buenos Aires requires sizes AR 38-48 (UK 10-20/US 8-18); both laws mandate standardized sizing. Compliance is frighteningly low at less than 25%. Despite that the provincial law has been on the books for six years and the municipal law for two years, it’s obvious that the current consequences for not adhering to the law—fines and store closures—have not increased size law compliance. Which is why AnyBody Argentina, a grassroots movement born out of the Endangered Bodies global campaign[1] is employing an alternative tactic. 

Instead of taking a punitive approach our size law campaign focuses on the positive. Our original aim was to reward stores that demonstrated 100% size law compliance but we discovered we had set the bar too high. Over several months, our team investigated stores throughout the capital trying to find one store—just one—that fully complied with the law. We couldn’t. So we adjusted our focus and short-listed a handful of near-compliant brands, both Argentine and international to further research, with VER and Portsaid sharing the top spot. So as not to rely solely on our independent investigation of stores, we collected data by conducting interviews with teens and women both inside and outside of a major shopping center and we widely distributed an online survey[2]. The results confirmed our investigation: 50% of women shopped at the top two stores we identified.

On July 1, 2011 we launched our size law campaign by officially recognizing these two Argentine brands, VER and Portsaid for offering the most extensive range of sizes in the country. We awarded them with a sticker that can be found in their store windows, which allows consumers to easily identify women-friendly retailers. Both brands presently display the AnyBody Argentina sticker in almost 100 stores throughout the country and we continue to collaborate with the two brands to support them in reaching full size law compliance.

The reaction to our campaign has been encouraging. Within weeks of launching, the country’s three major newspapers covered our initiative: Clarín, La Nación, and Página 12, in addition to television coverage by CNN Español and Moda Bit. Even more exciting is that a major Argentine brand has approached us wanting to be recognized; currently we’re working with the brand to ensure it meets a basic level of compliance. (We have also identified other clothing brands, both for teens and women, that we would like to see displaying our sticker.) And of course, the continual feedback from Argentine teens and women keeps us inspired. My favorite to date is from Vanina C: “Thank you for defending our rights so that women have the freedom to choose.” We’re ecstatic that women have choices at VER and Portsaid but we also recognize that the current fashionable options are still limited.

On this side of the equator, spring is just a few weeks away. As the new season’s collections hit the racks we’ll be there, investigating the range of standardized sizes offered. Our commitment to achieving size law compliance is more than about eradicating size discrimination. In a country with the second highest rate of eating disorders in the world, where over 90% of women are on a diet, and more than 50% would like to be one dress size smaller, size law compliance translates to greater mental and physical health for Argentine girls, teens, and women. 

 


[1] Originally called Endangered Species.

[2] Data collection is ongoing.

Wednesday
Jul272011

Victory For Body Campaigners

Jo Swinson MP announced this victory in the campaign to change advertising aimed at women.

"Ban on excessively retouched ads sends a powerful message to advertisers."

"This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching. Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality. With one in four people feeling depressed about their body, it’s time to consider how these idealised images are distorting our idea of beauty. 

"Shockingly, even the ASA weren’t contractually allowed to see the pre-production photo of Julia Roberts.  It shows just how ridiculous things have become when there is such fear over an unairbrushed photo that even the advertising regulator isn’t permitted to see it.  Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let’s get back to reality.”

The Advertising Standards Agency published their decision today on complaints submitted by Jo Swinson MP on Lancôme’s ‘Teint Miracle’ foundation, and Maybelline’s ‘The Eraser’ foundation. The regulator has ruled that both advertisements must not appear in their current form again. For more information on the decision and details of the complaints, visit:www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications

L'Oreal rapped for airbrushed Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts ads reports Marketing Weekly

MPs are increasing pressure on the advertising watchdog to ban campaigns featuring airbrushed images if they are found to be ’socially irresponsible’, after two L’Oreal ads were withdrawn for using ’misleading’ images of model Christy Turlington and actress Julia Roberts.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the ads for the L’Oreal owned Maybelline and Lancome make-up brands should not run in future after receiving complaints from Jo Swinson MP.

Swinson was acting on behalf of the anti-airbrushing ’Campaign for Body Confidence’, which she co-founded last year with fellow Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who has since become equalities minister.

The ASA agreed with Swinson that both ads misled consumers on the effects of the foundation make-up products they were promoting because the images of Turlington, for Maybelline, and Roberts, for Lancome, had been ’digitally manipulated’.

“This ruling demonstrates that the advertising regulator is acknowledging the dishonest and misleading nature of excessive retouching,” says Swinson.

“Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don’t need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers - let’s get back to reality,” she adds.

In its defence, L’Oreal admitted that the Maybelline ad did use “post production techniques” but the image “accurately illustrated the results the product could achieve”.

The campaign, which has broad support from experts and organsiations including feminist academic and writer Dr Susie Orbach and online community Mumsnet, has given a dossier of evidence to the ASA which it claims prove links between airbrushed ideal images of men and women and mental health disorders such as depression and anorexia, particularly among young people.

However, a spokesman for advertising rules CAP and BCAP says the evidence of a causal link has not yet been proven.

The ASA issued guidance to brands on the use of airbrushing in April. L’Oreal has had previous ads banned for airbrushing including a 2007 campaign starring Penelope Cruz.

 



Thursday
Jul072011

Face to face 

Thinking of Botox? Please think again. Especially if you are a new Mum, Dad, grandparent or nanny.

Baby's intelligence - emotional and intellectual - develops through reading faces. Faces that move. Faces that frown. Faces that smile. Faces in which noses crinkle up. Faces where eyes follow hands. Faces where a question can be read. Where joy can be reflected. Where sadness can be seen.


For a baby to feel secure and absorb the facial expressions that are a mirror to emotional life, she or he needs mobile faces that show and reflect different feelings and different energies to play with. There is concern among infant researchers who look at how babies develop, that Botox, when injected around the brows and near the eyes in order to give a youthful lift, blocks the capacity of the adult to convey the subtlety of their feelings. But more than that, if the mother cannot show curiosity and interest on her face as she looks and plays with baby, then there is a blank where the baby should be taking in the feel and excitement of curiosity and interest itself.

We've known for a while that Botox and cosmetic procedures have their serious downsides. Some film directors have talked - off the record of course - about how the ubiquity of plastic surgery and Botox makes difficult work of trying to get those vital close ups in which the magnified face of the actor or actress, displays the delicacy of the emotions.

Of course, airbrushing and digitalising is so commonplace now that we assume that a fixed and 'perfected' face is better than the life worn version. Indeed we do it even before the face has become 'life worn'. We insert gaps in the teeth of toddlers, pretty up school photos, buy cameras with built in correctors so that by the time youngsters become teens they are planning for their first medical interventions. It is made to seem, oh so normal and oh so stress free and oh so necessary. But it isn't.

One procedure begets another and as Sarah Burge, the self-styled advertisement for the cosmetic surgery said in the Guardian recently "when you see the benefits of one surgical procedure you think, what can I have done next? I'm a bit like the Forth Bridge and I'm the first to admit it, you get to the bottom and start at the top again."


But back to babies. And mothers with faces that are partially paralyzed by Botox. There is concern that the crucial face to face contact between mothers and babies that is the foundation for learning and emotional safety in babies, could be de-railed. Neuroscientists have been studying the mirror neurone system; a group of cells that allow us to mimic the movements of others. The classic finding showed a monkey watching a scientist eating a peanut. The way in which the mirror neuron cells are activated, it is as if the monkey itself were eating the peanut. Before we have made a move ourselves, we are already absorbing the movement of the other. It imprints on us. It can be thought of as a kind of preparation as well as a communication. We look and via our mind's eye - the mirror neurone system - we embody the movement and the emotions that accompany it.

In a heartbreaking video, Dr Edward Tronick, Director of the Child Development Unit at Harvard, shows what happens when a mother presents a motionless face to her baby. The baby tries to engage the mother to relate to her. She smiles, she points, she puts her hands up to Mum and when she fails to get a response she screeches and shows a sadness that is almost unbearable to watch. In the course of less than a minute the baby goes from being happy to disconsolate. This mother, who put on her still face for the baby was able to help her recover when she started to move it again. But what happens when a mother's face has restricted movement caused by Botox? Shouldn't we be wary?

In a recently published study by Professors David T. Neal and Tanya L. Chartrand looking at facial feedback and motion, they found the surprising result that women with Botox were significantly less capable of decoding positive or negative emotions than those using a face filler or living with their wrinkles. Another experiment asked participants to put a facial mask type gel on their faces. In order to convey what they were feeling through the mask, they had to exaggerate their emotions. Curiously, in doing so, they could more accurately translate the emotions of others.

So what can we conclude? The mobile face is a must for understanding and communicating emotions; it is a must feeling oneself; it is important in the movies, it's important between adults and crucially it's important between infants and parents.

This article first appeared in the Huffington Post 

Follow Susie Orbach on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psychoanalysis

 

Thursday
May122011

Stop the Spread

The ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign

 

This week, the EU initiative SafeFood launched a new anti-obesity campaign in Ireland. The campaign titled ‘Stop the Spread’ paints overweight as a contagious disease and creates a dangerous focus on body size. The aim of the campaign is to address the ‘obesity epidemic’ by getting adults to measure their waists. The Safefood website states that having a waist size greater than 32 inches for a woman or 37 inches for a man is a clear indication that a person is carrying excess weight. There is no discussion of the fact that bodies naturally differ in size and shape and that a person’s waist measurement is not an indicator of their health.

 

The images in the accompanying TV advert are of perfectly happy and healthy people of different ages meeting up with friends and having dinner with their families. If it wasn’t for the creepy voiceover and sinister background music I might not have suspected there was anything wrong with them. However the ad warns: ‘We are all in the grip of an epidemic. Most of us already have it and we are rapidly passing it on to others’. While the SafeFood campaign may be a well-intentioned attempt to promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle, it misses the point and the message it conveys is closer to ‘Don’t be friends with fat people’.

 

Promoting weight stigma seems to be a running theme from Safefood. Their previous Weigh2live campaign characterized overweight individuals as selfish, lazy and all-round unlovable people.

 

It also seems a little suspicious that the campaign is endorsed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the Ulster Chemists Association and the Professional Forum of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. The campaign will be supported by pharmacies and chemists across the island of Ireland where consumers can pick up one of 250,000 free measuring tapes from next week in participating outlets (and it’s just a happy coincidence if they happen to spend money on weight-loss products while they are in there).

Sunday
Apr172011

Life Imitates Art 

Geena Davis on how gender inequality on TV and in movies has a powerful impact on kids

Geena Davis is an Academy Award-winning actor, probably best known for her roles in movies such as "Thelma and Louise," "A League of Their Own" and "The Accidental Tourist."

But in more recent years, she has become an advocate for gender equality in children's entertainment. As founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, she aims to work with content creators to increase the number of girls and women in films and television shows aimed at kids.

She sat down with The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Blumenstein to discuss her career, the role that changed her life and the problem with the way women are portrayed in G-rated movies. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.

A Life-Changing Role

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: You became known for picking your roles very carefully. Why did you feel so strongly about that at an early point?

MS. DAVIS: It was really for purely selfish reasons, because as an actor I wanted to feel challenged and, you know, play baseball rather than be the girlfriend of the person who plays baseball.

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: The film "Thelma and Louise" has such a strong feminist message. Did you realize that signing up for it?

MS. DAVIS: I don't think any of us involved in the movie had any idea the reaction that it was going to get. It was very unusual because it had two excellent female parts, and I desperately wanted to be in it.

But what happened was when that movie came out, the difference between if somebody recognized me at the cleaners or something before that movie and that weekend that it came out—it was just night and day.

Afterward, I had women holding me by the lapels, so I could hear their story. And that experience really brought home to me how few opportunities we give women to feel like that about a movie. To feel passionately identified with it and feel empowered and thrilled. It's just incredibly rare. And I think everything in my life has been colored since then by that experience.

A Shocking Study

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: You moved on, became a mom and suddenly as an actor you began to develop some different beliefs about the role of media.

MS. DAVIS: Being in the business and having the experiences I had where some movies I did resonated with women or girls—like "A League of Their Own"—I had a heightened sense about women's roles in the media. Then when my daughter—she's 8 now—when she was about 2, I started watching G-rated videos and preschool programs with her.

And I was absolutely floored to see the same kind of gender bias and gender gap in what we're showing little kids. She'd be on my lap and I'd be counting the characters on my fingers and thinking, "This is just not right."

I didn't intend to turn it into a whole institute or a whole new life for myself. But I started mentioning it around Hollywood. If I had a meeting with a studio executive or a producer, I'd say, "Hey, have you ever noticed how few female characters there seem to be in G-rated movies and things for kids?" And they pretty much across the board would say, "No. No, that's not true anymore. That's been fixed."

So that's what made me decide that I would need the facts and not just my impression. We raised some money, and we ended up doing the largest research study ever done on G-rated movies and television shows made for kids 11 and under. And the results were stunning.

What we found was that in G-rated movies, for every one female character, there were three male characters. If it was a group scene, it would change to five to one, male to female.

Of the female characters that existed, the majority are highly stereotyped and/or hypersexualized. To me, the most disturbing thing was that the female characters in G-rated movies wear the same amount of sexually revealing clothing as the female characters in R-rated movies.

And then we looked at aspirations and occupations and things like that. Pretty much the only aspiration for female characters was finding romance, whereas there are practically no male characters whose ultimate goal is finding romance. The No. 1 occupation was royalty. Nice gig, if you can get it. And we found that the majority of female characters in animated movies have a body type that can't exist in real life. So, the question you can think of from all this is: What message are we sending to kids?

Mitigating the Damage

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: Have you done any work on what the impact is?

MS. DAVIS: The whole idea for me was I wanted to take the facts and go back to the people who are creating the media. We go straight to the studios and the producers, the Writers Guild, the Animators Guild, the Casting Directors Guild, and present our research.

The fascinating thing that we found from the beginning was that they were absolutely shocked.

The fact that, in general, all of their movies are so lacking in a female presence is stunning to them. That makes it, obviously, not a conspiracy, not a conscious choice, and leaves them very open to rethinking it and saying, "Now that we know, we're going to make some changes."

And we feel certain that when we update [our research] in 2015 that we will have seen the needle move.

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: What does a parent do? Is there evidence that the more TV and movies that kids watch—does it have an impact on them?

MS. DAVIS: Definitely. They found that the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become.

What we recommend, and what I do with my kids, is watch with them.

They're only allowed to watch TV if I'm there.

And I make a running commentary the whole time to take away the negative impact, asking things such as: "Couldn't a girl have played that part?" And there's reason to believe that this is actually very effective.

MS. BLUMENSTEIN: You did "Commander in Chief" recently. Do you believe playing the female commander in chief has an impact on society?

MS. DAVIS: Negative images can powerfully affect boys and girls, but positive images have the same kind of impact. We know that if girls can see characters doing unstereotyped kinds of occupations and activities, they're much more likely as an adult to pursue unusual and outside-the-box occupations. I really believe that if you can see it, you can be it.

Originally posted at The Wall Street Journal on April 11, 2011

 

 

Monday
Feb072011

SUSIE ORBACH LAUNCHES ENDANGERED SPECIES INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT TO CHALLENGE BODY BEAUTIFUL CULTURE  

Endangered Species International Summit - established by Susie Orbach and launched today in London - will celebrate body diversity and challenge the culture that teaches girls and women to hate their own bodies. Events will take place around the world in March - the same month as the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day - with the main UK event to be held at London’s Southbank Centre on 4th March 2011.

To launch the summit, Endangered Species, together with DIVA magazine, invited advertising and creative agencies from around the UK to submit ideas for a billboard campaign to communicate the Endangered Species’ message: save future generations of women and girls from hating their own bodies. The winning entry from Manchester’s RED C Agency is unveiled today and will be seen at 11 sites across the capital running up to the Endangered Species summit in London on 4th March. The sites have been donated to Endangered Species and DIVA courtesy of global out-of-home advertising company Clear Channel International.

 

 

 

The Endangered Species billboard campaign features in the March issue of DIVA magazine which is guest-edited by world-renowned psychotherapist, author and activist, Susie Orbach and goes on sale today.

Jane Czyzselska, editor of DIVA magazine, says:

"When Susie told us about Endangered Species, her upcoming event aimed at correcting the warped view we have of ourselves, which is created and supported by our personal histories and the powerful visual media, we decided to join forces and asked Susie to guest-edit a special issue of DIVA. Were excited about the impact our efforts could have in changing the cultural discourse about our bodies and in turn helping women to feel truly at home in their skin."

Supported by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, fashion guru Caryn Franklin, actor and writer Emma Thompson and DIVA magazine, Endangered Species aims to engage people from the worlds of politics, corporate life, fashion and media and ask them how they can best contribute to changing those aspects of the commercialization of beauty which are causing such harm to girls and women around the world today.  

Susie Orbach says:

‘Endangered Species summit is an urgent call to action: to save future generations from the body misery which can start as early as 6 and continue until women are in old age homes. The summit aims to show girls and women how they can do something about it, and to inspire them to embrace change.’

‘Over the past 30 years the workings of the diet, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic surgery and style industries have made us view the body we live in as a body which must be perfect.  The goal of perfectibility has turned generations of women against their own bodies.  The young woman who can feel free to explore her interests without being preoccupied by how her body appears or focus on what procedure she should have in the future to change it is becoming an ‘endangered species’.

Notes to Editors

  • Endangered Species is an International Summit with its UK event taking place at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank on 4th March. Individuals and groups from the UK and Ireland will be joined by initiatives throughout Europe to showcase the work they are already doing with and about young women – from projects in schools, colleges and communities to web-based groups and campaigning organisations. Performance, videos and artwork will frame the day and underline the urgent message of this summit.  A truly global summit, Endangered Species events will take place in London, New York, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Sao Paulo. www.endangeredspecieswomen.org.uk
  • The winners of the Endangered Species/Diva Billboard campaign competition, chosen from over 100 entries, were: 1st Place: Red C ‘Is this the happiest she’ll ever be about her appearance’; 2nd Place Hillcoat-Watson’s ‘Don’t Conform – Change the Norm; 3rd Place: Rapp’s ‘Nip and Tuck Off’. The judges  were Susie Orbach and Diva’s Jane Czyzselska, Louise Carolin and Eden Carter Wood
  • Diva is the biggest selling magazine for lesbian and bi-sexual women in the UK www.divamag.co.uk
  • Clear Channel International (CCI)

 

Clear Channel International (CCI) works with advertisers to create inspiring out-of-home advertising campaigns in 30 countries across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The company has a growing portfolio, which is currently made up of over half a million displays, which span traditional and digital formats on roadside billboards, street furniture and in retail, point of sale, airport, transit and lifestyle environments. It employs over 5,000 people and, in 2009, its revenue was $1.46 billion USD.

CCI is part of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc (CCO), the world’s largest out-of-home advertising company with operations in 44 countries. CCO is, in turn, 89% owned by Clear Channel Communications, Inc the global media and entertainment company. The remaining 11% of CCO is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

www.clearchannelinternational.com

www.clearchannel.co.uk

 

  • To arrange for a high-resolution image of the billboard campaign winners please contact annabelr@fmcm.co.uk

 

Friday
Oct222010

Brainwashed Bodies

The blog Beautiful traces the story of a creative conversation about body image through photography. Check out this short film from Central YMCA highlighting the causes and consequences of body image anxieties in the UK.  Brainwashed Bodies.

Thursday
Aug122010

Ad men today are wrong on body size

Susie Orbach writes on why Lynne Featherstone was right to celebrate curvaceous Christina Hendricks as a role model

Christina Hendricks in Mad Men Christina Hendricks, as seen in Mad Men, was held up as an alternative to the skinny aesthetic by equalities minister Lynne Featherstone. Photograph: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

 

Pity those who are rubbishing the equalities minister Lynne Featherstone's efforts to influence the style industry with her comments that Christina Hendricks, voluptuous star of Mad Men, is an ideal female role model. They must be denying what they know about the body-issue problems affecting their mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts or friends. We can see an unconscious pull to dismiss the initiative by telling it as a story of the minister's personal prejudices, her own desire to see curvaceous bodies become the new visual musak.

Of course that wasn't Featherstone's point at all. She was relishing Hendricks as a refreshing counterpoint to the homogeneity of female body image that we have been receiving and transmitting and attempting to emulate for several decades. She wasn't arguing for a new form of body tyranny.

Enough studies have been carried out demonstrating the harm done to all girls and women – including those for whom that body shape comes naturally – and the harm that is now enveloping boys and men, by the almost unremitting parade of skinniness. This public health emergency is hidden from view by media trivialisation of the problem and by attributing its causes to vanity. The insistence that the commercialisation of the body is a fit subject for political discussion and intervention is well overdue.

Skinny is only one body type. But it has been the aesthetic, with modifications in height (now tall with long legs: used to be middling with shapely ones) and breast size (now big: used to be small) for several decades. It's not that there is anything wrong with skinniness in its current manifestation: it's the singularity of the image, and the message, which makes us judge anything that deviates from it as somehow wrong.

If the aesthetic changed tomorrow and the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 images (not to mention the uncountable number on the internet) we see weekly of thin bodies were suddenly to change to – skilfully lit, photo-manipulated and artistically displayed – curvy bodies, the desire to conform to that new model could produce the same kind of anguish as today's singular skinny aesthetic does. We'd be back to Wate-On tablets at the chemist and people feeling inadequate about how thin they were.

We want to see the influence of visual culture on us as trivial, as a silliness, as something that only affects people if they have an emotional disposition (read weakness) towards it, or have a gene that disposes them to it. But it isn't trivial, it isn't about weakness and it isn't about genetics. It can be deadly. It can consume a life. It can be a hidden horror starting at six and going on until old age. And, perhaps most disturbingly, most body image problems don't show. They aren't about anorexia or obesity. They are an obsession endured.

The attempt to bring the style industries together to create a wider aesthetic, which can embrace different body types while remaining edgy and modish, is an important challenge. And it is time we took it seriously.

We need to take steps to change our visual landscape to show variety in size and shape and ethnicity and – as the Guardian has begun to do in its Weekend magazine fashion spread – age. I often feel sorry for all those talented art directors who are endlessly turning the raw photos of models into facsimile copies. It would surely be so much more stimulating for them to fashion an aesthetic which is actually modern, does no harm and restores the variety of reality back to their artifice.

Featherstone has been caricatured as clunky for her intervention, but in truth there isn't a person reading this piece who doesn't know someone who is suffering because body hatred has eaten into their sense of self. This relatively new phenomenon is fed by industries which grow fat on inducing feelings of body insecurity. Few feel good and safe in their bodies. Not even, it turns out, those who happen to meet the current beauty standards. Body hatred is a modern virus undermining so many. The fashion industries who inadvertently cause considerable pain to girls and women could reformulate their stance so that they became part of what makes living in our bodies enjoyable rather than a target for beauty terror.

Eighty-eight per cent of spending on clothes is in sizes and prices that never see the catwalk or the glossies. Wouldn't it be great to see a representative of that ordinary percentage glamorised in our magazines? Wouldn't it be great if young girls had a variety of physical shapes and activities with which to identify? Wouldn't it be great if we weren't exporting body hatred around the world by implying that the bodies on our billboards are the only ones that let you engage with the modern world? Wouldn't it be great if we taught our kids body confidence rather than body fear, so that they knew when they were hungry, knew when they were tired and enjoyed the pleasure of running around and doing sport not because it would burn off the calories but because they enjoyed being active? Wouldn't it be great if expectant mums could go to term without having photographs of celebrities, who had early caesareans to avoid the last weeks of "fat", paraded in front of them? Wouldn't it be great if new mums could get to know their babies and their own bodies' appetites rather than feel pressure to get back to their pre-pregnancy body in six weeks? Wouldn't it be great for children to absorb contented and non-anxious bodies, and go on themselves to enjoy bodies they didn't feel impelled to change and discipline for life?

The acceptance of body hatred and body difficulties is what we need to take on. The way in which the media has become a handmaiden to the diet and beauty industries, whose nefarious practices yield great profits for them and great pain for us and our daughters (and our sons), is shameful. It is easier to attack Featherstone than admit the damage that we know is around us. Because we live inside the problem and manage it individually, it doesn't mean there isn't a solution. There is. Talking to those industries who could bring about positive change is a start. It's not meddling, boring or worthy. It is interesting, challenging, and especially for those art directors, exciting.

Susie Orbach is convenor of any-body.org and author of Bodies (Profile Books)

This article appeared in The Guardian 31/7/2010

 

Tuesday
Jul062010

Battling the Beauty Myth in Argentina

By AnyBody member Sharon Haywood

Typical Argentine mannequins found in the capital of Buenos Aires/Photo by Sharon HaywoodMaría Pérez (pseudonym), a 34-year-old Argentine, works as a sales clerk in a clothing store in the capital of Buenos Aires, but she doesn’t wear the clothes she sells. She’s a size 46 (UK 18/US 16) and the largest size her store offers is 38 (UK 10/US 8). She told AnyBody, “The only clothes that I can find to fit are imported name brands like Levis but they’re really expensive, at least twice the cost of an Argentine brand. The problem is, I can’t fit into any Argentine brands. There aren’t that many speciality shops for larger sizes and even then the clothing is quite boring, not fashionable at all.” She deals with the problem by asking friends who travel to North America or Europe to bring her back the clothes she wants.

Kasandra Shay, a 40-year-old American living in the province of Buenos Aires wears a US size 6-8 (UK 10-12) and said, “it’s impossible to find anything that fits.” She told AnyBody that for the last three years she has resided in Argentina she only buys clothes when visiting the States. “I feel like if you aren't five feet tall and an absolute stick with twigs for arms and legs, (and no hips), then clothes just aren't for you.” 

Luciana La Morgia, a 34-year-old Argentine residing in the capital of Buenos Aires, doesn’t know what her size is. Depending on where she buys her clothes, her size ranges from a 30 to a 40 (UK 2-12/US 0-10), sometimes even in the same store. She stated that it is challenging to find clothes that fit properly and said that women’s clothing in Argentina “is made for little dolls and girls without hips.”

According to Monique Altschul, the executive director of the feminist organisation Fundación Mujeres en Igualdad (Women in Equality Foundation), approximately 70% Argentine women have difficulty finding clothes that fit. As a result, women have no choice but to shop at speciality stores that carry larger sizes, but in Argentina, fashion and larger sizes are not congruous. By comparison, women in the UK and the US can shop at popular and style-conscious chains like Marks & Spencer or specialists such as Evans and Lane Bryant. AnyBody also spoke with Dr. Mabel Bello, the executive director of ALUBA, Argentina’s Association Against Bulimia and Anorexia who said, “Argentina has the second highest rate of eating disorders in the world … and 95% of its women believe they are fat.” Taking such facts into consideration, the lack of a full range of clothing sizes isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s feeding a national health crisis.

Activists and key governmental forces recognised the problem and lobbied for change. In December 2005, legislators implemented the country’s first size law (la Ley de Talles) for the province of Buenos Aires, which covers the extensive suburbs outside of the country’s capital. The law states that retailers of clothing for teens must stock sizes 38 to 48 (UK 10-20/US 8-18) of all items available for purchase. It also mandates that sizes small, medium, and large, and sizes 1 through 4 be abolished. Furthermore, every size must be accompanied by a ticket that specifies bust, waist, and hip measurements that adhere to standards set by the National Institute for Normalisation and Certification, otherwise known as IRAM. The penalties for noncompliance include fines and even store closure. Argentine consumers and activists applauded the legislation. But the celebration didn’t last long.

In 2007, Fundación Mujeres en Igualdad (MEI) conducted a follow-up of store compliance at one of the province’s largest shopping malls, Unicenter, which revealed discouraging findings. Most stores carried only up to a size 42 (UK 14/US 12); various store employees asserted that they did not carry size 48 (UK 20/US 18); and a good number of retailers had incorrectly labelled the sizes of clothing items in which larger sizes were actually a size or two smaller than stated. Furthermore, none of the size labels included the IRAM-specified bodily measurements, and the majority of store employees were not aware of IRAM’s norms. Shortly after its inspection, MEI contacted the 100 representatives appointed by the Consumer Advocate’s office to enquire about their monitoring activities. Only two officers responded, stating that they had conducted educational campaigns with store owners and had subsequently issued fines and temporary store closures for those retailers who failed to conform with the law. After MEI’s assessment, the organisation calculated that the current compliance rate sits at 25% due to minimal to non-existent government monitoring and enforcement.

The problem of noncompliance is threefold. First, designers, manufacturers, and retailers staunchly oppose the law. Designers told the country’s national newspaper La Nación that the law was “nonsense.” Manufacturers state they cannot afford the additional raw materials and extra labour required to produce a full range of sizes. Shop owners assert that it is not economically feasible to increase their on-hand stock. Altschul of MEI concurred that their concerns are valid: “They need loans to help them make the transition.” Bello of ALUBA, who advised the Senate on both the provincial and the capital size laws, believes enforcement would be more successful if retailers were provided with incentives, rather than punishments by fines: “I believe taking the stance that the retailers are guilty of this situation is a strategic error.” She added that the size law could act as a catalyst for further awareness and education surrounding body image issues if it were regulated differently.

The second barrier to size law compliance is corruption. During MEI’s inspection at Unicenter, the organisation reported that many store employees were reluctant to offer information for fear of losing their jobs; however, some staff explained that monthly inspections ceased when inspectors “made deals” with store owners. Bello reinforced such realities by stating, “It’s very difficult to regulate the law where corruption exists and inspectors receive bribes.” Additionally, Altschul reported that a representative from the Consumer Advocate’s office pressured the organisation to cease their lobbying efforts. She said, “They told us that if we insisted on this law we would only be doing damage to our own neighbourhood because they [the retailers] would need to move to another neighbourhood.” Shortly thereafter, Altschul said that the Secretary of Commerce for the province of Buenos Aires called a meeting with MEI and echoed the same message, encouraging the organisation to sympathise with manufacturers and retailers.

The ideal Argentine body type is reflected in its mannequins/Photo by Sharon HaywoodThe resistance from manufacturers, retailers, and the Consumer Advocate’s office reveals the third and most relevant barrier to seeing the law enforced: Argentina’s commitment to the beauty myth. Bello said that in Argentina “we are slaves to image. Appearances are more important than who a person is. We have to look a certain way, be a certain person. This is our cultural imperative.” The executive director of MEI cited an example of her country’s bias against fat illustrated in a particular Argentine brand of jeans: “They have jeans that young girls love but the brand only carries up to size 42, and for sizes higher than that, the size ticket reads ‘anonymous.’” She also told AnyBody that the Spanish-based clothing retailer Zara has a store in Unicenter shopping mall in the province of Buenos Aires that was legally granted permission to not comply with the size law. Altschul said, “I’ve been to Zara stores in Berlin, Athens, Washington, DC and Switzerland and they have all sizes. But not in Buenos Aires.”

Glorification of thinness is not a phenomenon exclusive to this South American country. In North America, an example of size discrimination can be found at the teen and women’s clothing store American Apparel. Activists and consumers alike have criticised the wildly popular retailer for not stocking many of their clothing items over a US size 6 (UK 8). Brianne Widaman of the body activism movement Revolution of Real Women in the United States stated, “American Apparel is not the first company to do this, but they are currently one of the most popular and most obvious examples of undisclosed size limitation … its lack of size diversity on its racks begins to come across as elitist and size-shaming.” The Argentine fashion industry is sending the exact same message as American Apparel: If you want to be fashionable, you must be thin.

According to Altschul, the Argentine Senate takes the issue seriously. In December 2009, the Senate passed a size law for adults within the capital of Buenos Aires; at present, enforcement is pending budget allocations. Additionally, a national size law for adults is currently under review in the Senate. MEI believes they are “good laws but the problem is how to translate them into public policy.” Until then, consumers must make their voices heard. MEI recommends that shoppers file a formal complaint when they discover their clothing size is unavailable. Altschul admits that the Consumer Advocate’s office demands a lot of consumers: Each consumer complaint must be submitted in writing accompanied by a notarised copy. MEI will continue to lobby against what Altschul calls “pure discrimination” but without the unified support of the public, change is not forthcoming. Bello believes that education is the answer. In a culture where Bello said, “mothers want to look like their daughters,” achieving size law compliance isn’t just a political issue. It’s a public health emergency.

 

Note: Endangered Species, an international body image summit organised by AnyBody, will raise the issue of the size law in Buenos Aires on March 16, 2011. Visit www.anybodyargentina.org for more information.  

 

Monday
May242010

Endangered Species

 

Susie at the DLD conference Friday June 11, Munich


 

Susie Orbach spoke at the DLD conference in Munich on Friday 11 June. She is interviewed by Dr. Maria Furtwangler-Burda and explains what we mean by "Endangered".

Be inspired!

 

 

Endangered Species is an international summit planned for March 2011 to challenge the pernicious culture that teaches women and girls to hate their own bodies.

In March 2011, The Women's Therapy Centre Institute from New York and UK-based AnyBody (http://any-body.org/) will launch a comprehensive, worldwide campaign in collaboration with the leading organizations and individuals already on the front lines of this public mental health epidemic. This campaign will engage government officials, educational institutions, multi-national corporations, the fashion industry, and the mainstream media to join us in creating a new visual culture -- one where the diverse, real beauty of women and girls is valued and magnified. 

In London we will be hosting a day in which activists will come together to share their work, to question policy makers and to celebrate women’s bodies. Following multi-media presentations and opportunities to network, the day will end with an alternative fashion show.

Our internship posts have now been filled but do contact us if you would like to support this event in any way.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May112010

Body uniformity? Don't do it, guys

Article by AnyBody's Susie Orbach in the guardian.co.uk, Monday 10 May 2010 
Male mannequins are getting skinnier, as a multibillion pound industry extends its mission to make us all feel insecure
So the male mannequins are getting skinnier as we in the general population get larger. No surprise there. The twinning of skinniness with girth growth has been evident since the days of Twiggy, when the formally differently sized and shaped female population were exhorted to take on this new diminishing of a woman's form and, as a result, got larger.
Not that it was Twiggy's fault, but the ubiquity of her image created a sense in young women that to be stylish meant to be skinny, flat-chested with an ingénue face and straight hair. We women, and there were millions of us, tried to fit to the mode. There was dieting, lots and lots of it, and while it worked for some – for some of the time – mostly women got bigger rather than smaller as dieting cycling sent them on the fastest way to gain weight.
Periodically, Rootstein, the makers of shop mannequins, shave down the bodies that go into shop windows. Sleeker and sleeker sculptures – so slimmed down that the clothes have to be pinned in a concealed manner to fit – fill the visual display, implying that this is what a body should be. And in the wake of this the beauty, fashion, cosmetics, diet and fitness industries get decidedly fat as people rush to reshape their bodies, only to fail so spectacularly that they seek ever more products, which purport to help, but bring havoc instead.
This multibillion pound/dollar/euro market, so well established with women and girls, has been aching to expand. And so it has to China, to Saudi, to Russia, turning thinness into an aspiration for girls and women and churning massive profits. No wonder, then, that for that last 15 years men and younger men have become ever more exposed to similar marketing.
Men's magazines today resemble Cosmopolitan of 20 years ago. They encourage guys to reach for the same rotten

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr252010

Penelope's in Vogue with Real Women

The big issue: Penelope Cruz edits Vogue 'plus-size' edition

Jess Cartner-Morley writes in last Friday's Guardian

Actor kicks off further debate on the size issue by endorsing larger models in magazine's French versionCrystal Renn models a Jean-Paul Gaultier creation in 2005. The size 12 model features in an edition of Vogue edited by actress Penelope Cruz. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

In the heady world of high fashion, few issues have ruffled feathers as much in recent months as that of size. And now further fuel has been added to the debate about the use of larger models thanks to an edition of Vogue edited by the actor Penelope Cruz.

Cruz was chosen to edit the French edition of the title and has promptly waded in with a provocative shoot that stars the size 12 model Crystal Renn in photographs styled by the magazine's influential editor, Carine Roitfeld.

Cruz's intervention comes at a key moment within the industry for models with body shapes more akin to those of the majority of women. Last month, a special "curvy" edition of French Elle lavished praise on cover girl Tara Lynn's "adorable belly fat".

And two months ago a Louis Vuitton show, entitled And God Created Woman, cast curvaceous older models such as 46-year-old Elle MacPherson and 31-year-old Laetitia Casta in starring roles on the Paris catwalk alongside the more usual ultra-slim, teenage models.

Vogue's images of Renn – who is almost naked in some shots, and clad in tight leather in others – seemed proof that the campaign to broaden definitions of beauty, spearheaded by British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman among others, is gaining ground even among the famously slender Parisiennes.

But then came comments attributed to the highly influential fashion blogger Garance Doré that cast doubt over whether the Paris fashion world was ready to endorse women who do not fit the catwalk samples, which are now usually a British size six. Doré told Sky News: "it's not such a good thing to show plus-size because it's not really physically healthy and not always flattering to fashion." Her views appeared to echo those of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who recently attacked "fat mummies" who "sit there in front of the television with their chip packets and say skinny models are ugly".

And while Doré followed up with an apparent attempt to backpedal, she did stand by criticism of designers who use plus-size models – in what she considers a tokenistic way – and criticised how they had been used at London Fashion Week. Doré said: "It should not be such a big deal to show women with different bodies, but sometimes it's treated like a bit of a joke, or for shock, like the plus-size models on the runway in the UK fashion week. I think it's too much and almost naive of the fashion industry, because it would be nice in a few years that the idea of different body shapes is normal, but right now it's not."

Models such as Renn, Lynn and Hayley Morley "represent the diversity of women's bodies, and what I said is that I will be happy to see them on a runway on a regular basis, just not all together at the same time," added Doré.

The row has again ignited the touchpaper on an emotive issue within the industry. When Mark Fast used Morley and other plus-size models in his London Fashion Week show last year, a backstage disagreement about the logistics of casting and dressing different-sized women blew up into a media storm, with Fast forced to deny charges of not wanting to work with plus-sized models.

But Doré, who posts photographs and writing on her eponymous blog and has become a front-row presence at fashion shows, tried to play down the row. "I never said that plus-size models are unhealthy," she told the Huffington Post. "That would be totally stupid of me." Referring to a V magazine shoot which photographed a plus-size model alongside her catwalk-sized equivalent and to a London Fashion Week catwalk show which featured plus size models on the catwalk, she said "if things like V Mag or the Mark Fast show contribute to making people more tolerant and the fashion industry more open to that, then it's just great and a good sign for the future. I, myself, am not a model at all, and I have always said that I like my curves."

And she described the French Vogue star Renn as "absolutely gorgeous," adding: "I would love to photograph her."

Shapes of their own

Crystal Renn

Age 23. Size 14. Renn began modelling at 14, and became a plus-size model in 2003. Highs Closing the Jean-Paul Gaultier show in 2005. Last year she published a book called Hungry.

Kate Dillon

Age 36. Size 14. Dillon began modelling at 17. Highs Has been photographed by some of the world's most revered photographers, including Mario Testino.

Doutzen Kroes

Age 25. Size 10. Kroes is not officially a plus size, though has been much discussed for her curves. Highs Walking on the Prada catwalk this February, longstanding relationship with US lingerie brand Victoria's Secret and, in 2008, being the world's fifth highest-paid model, grossing $6m (£4m).

Hayley Morley

Age 21. Size 14. Morley shot to fame last September when she appeared on the spring/summer 2010 Mark Fast catwalk during London fashion week. Highs Starring in the latest Evans ad campaign and appearing in the Guardian's Weekend magazine.

Tara Lynn

Age 23. Size 18. Lynn was catapulted into the fashion limelight when she was photographed as part of V magazine's Curves Ahead issue in January. Highs Appearing on the cover of French Elle.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/apr/23/plus-sized-models-french-vogue

Monday
Mar012010

An invitation: Real Women: The Body Image Debate

Jo Swinson MP and Lynne Featherstone MP Invite you to
 
Real Women: The Body Image Debate
8th March, 4 - 6pm
Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
Houses of Parliament, Westminster
On International Women's Day 2010, leading academics, politicians and members of the media and fashion industries will debate the way forward to combat body image pressure on women and girls imposed by idealised images in the modern media.

Marc Quinn-Alison Lapper Pregnant

 
The meeting will include a panel discussion and Q&A with
 
Erin O' Connor
Fashion model and founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk campaign
www.allwalks.org
 
Susie Orbach
Author of Fat is a Feminist Issue and Bodies: Big Ideas and convenor of AnyBody campaign
www.any-body.org
 
Dr. Helga Dittmar
Author of Consumer culture, identity, and well-being: The search for the ‘good life’ and ‘body perfect’
 
Laurie Penny
Feminist blogger and journalist for The Guardian
 
 
To RSVP or for more information please contact Hannah Wright at wrighth@parliament.uk or 0207 219 8088
Monday
Mar012010

Debenhams for Diversity

a petite 5’4 model, a size 16 model, a size 10 model, and a wheel-chair using model

with designer Ben de Lisi

Debenhams trial size 16 mannequins in its windows

Last week, the UK department Debenhams launched an advertising campaign for their Principles fashion line that features models of a variety of sizes, backgrounds, and abilities. The print advert features a petite 5’4 model, a size 16 model, a size 10 model, and a wheel-chair using model. Debenhams is the first UK high street retailer to employ a model who uses a wheelchair in an advert.
Michael Sharp, Debenhams’ Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We cater for women of all shapes and sizes, young and old, non-disabled and disabled, so we wanted our windows to reflect this choice.” Debenhams says that it is committed to using disabled models in other photography; a second photographic shoot is being organized. Debenhams stocks up to size 26 in its women’s department, and 42% of sales come from sizes 14 and 16 garments.  The retailer says that it is committed to using diverse models that reflect their consumers in their future advertisements. The print advert follows the chain’s introduction of size 16 mannequins in their store windows. Debenhams, as do all the clothing shops, traditionally use standard size 10 mannequins, whereas the average woman is a size 16.
While there has been much debate over the inclusion of size diversity in fashion, the incorporation of people of a variety of abilities has remained absent in the media. In addition to Debenhams, Alexander McQueen used model Aimee Mullins, with two specially carved wooden, prosthetic legs that he had designed, in his London Fashion Week show.
While these efforts are important steps in diversifying fashion, it is important to recognize that models of different abilities that have been incorporated into fashion to date have represented the singular and accepted size, age, and racial beauty standard. To be truly groundbreaking, fashion needs to use people of diverse abilities who are also of a variety of sizes, ages, and backgrounds in their adverts and on their catwalks.
Debenhams reminds us all that we must continue to push, with courage and conviction, for people of all abilities to be incorporated into fashion advertising and on the runway. Fashion and style knows no size, no age, no background, and no ability; they are open to our definitions and re-definitions because the most important runway is not the catwalk in New York or Paris, but the sidewalk in our neighbourhoods where we breath life into the clothes – whether we strut, limp, or wheel.

By AnyBody member Ben Barry


Please see related article for more information:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/7323888/Debenhams-first-with-disabled-High-Street-model.html 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1251983/Department-store-puts-size-16-mannequins-shop-windows-reflect-shape-average-woman.html

Aimee Mullins modeling prosthetic legs and garments designed by Alexander McQueen

 

Saturday
Feb272010

American Apparel: anti slave labour - but pro-porn

Spreading the word on behalf of ipetitions:
American Apparel is looking for the best bottom in the world to be the "face" of their new ad campaign.  They're inviting girls and women to upload pictures of their butts to the website (wearing AA underwear or body suits, of course) and then asking people to judge the submissions with a score of 1-5 and the option to add snarky comments. It’s low budget and lowbrow. For girls, however, it’s
high stakes.
Here's their invitation: "Confident about the junk in your trunk? Show us your assets! Post a photo of your booty's best side for judgment. We're looking for a brand new bum (the best in the world!) to be the new "face" for our always expanding intimates and briefs lines. The winners will be flown to LA, photographed and featured online. Send in a close-up photo of your backside wearing American Apparel panties, bodysuits or briefs for consideration and vote for your personal favorites."
Geez, American Apparel, try listening to girls instead of objectifying them. As Thalia, age 19, says, “You don't need to exploit us to benefit your company. Someone who is a CEO should have more common sense, don't you think?”
We do.
So, here’s our reply – grow up and get someone on your marketing team who’s got some brain cells and some principles. Sign our letter to AA’s CEO and Corporate Relations people to add your name to the protest.
Joseph Teklits and Jean Fontana, Corporate Relations
Dov Charney, CEO
747 Warehouse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dear American Apparel:
The sexualization of women and porn-inspired media have infiltrated the everyday culture of the youngest girls. According to the 2007 APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in Media, the negative impact on girls and women is indisputable: the sexualization and objectification of girls and women in media wreak havoc on our psychological, emotional, cognitive and relational lives.
Your recent campaign is a perfect example of the insidious ways marketers and media promote sexualization and body obsession as “girl power.” American Apparel is directly and unconscionably undermining girls’ healthy development by equating confidence with looking sexy, winning with being judged on their appearance, and personal value with 15 seconds of fame. The objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies is a real concern in a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of violence, and sexual harassment is rampant. This ad campaign invites girls to self-objectify, inviting girls to post pictures of just one body part, and inviting others to comment and rate it is demeaning and dangerous.
By launching this campaign at a time when sexting is in the headline news, American Apparel is literally placing girls in jeopardy of prosecution by inviting them to post highly sexualized images of themselves online.
Don’t insult us with the usual defense: this is not real girl power; this is
not just girls feeling good, making choices or feeling confident in their bodies. American Apparel is selling girls for parts, and we’re not buying.  We demand that you stop this ad campaign today and commit to more responsible marketing practices.

American Apparel is looking for the best bottom in the world to be the "face" of their new ad campaign.  They're inviting girls and women to upload pictures of their butts to the website (wearing AA underwear or body suits, of course) and then asking people to judge the submissions with a score of 1-5 and the option to add snarky comments. It’s low budget and lowbrow. For girls, however, it’shigh stakes.
Here's their invitation: "Confident about the junk in your trunk? Show us your assets! Post a photo of your booty's best side for judgment. We're looking for a brand new bum (the best in the world!) to be the new "face" for our always expanding intimates and briefs lines. The winners will be flown to LA, photographed and featured online. Send in a close-up photo of your backside wearing American Apparel panties, bodysuits or briefs for consideration and vote for your personal favorites."
Geez, American Apparel, try listening to girls instead of objectifying them. As Thalia, age 19, says, “You don't need to exploit us to benefit your company. Someone who is a CEO should have more common sense, don't you think?”
We do.
So, here’s our reply – grow up and get someone on your marketing team who’s got some brain cells and some principles. Sign our letter to AA’s CEO and Corporate Relations people to add your name to the protest.
Joseph Teklits and Jean Fontana, Corporate RelationsDov Charney, CEO747 Warehouse St.Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dear American Apparel:
The sexualization of women and porn-inspired media have infiltrated the everyday culture of the youngest girls. According to the 2007 APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in Media, the negative impact on girls and women is indisputable: the sexualization and objectification of girls and women in media wreak havoc on our psychological, emotional, cognitive and relational lives.
Your recent campaign is a perfect example of the insidious ways marketers and media promote sexualization and body obsession as “girl power.” American Apparel is directly and unconscionably undermining girls’ healthy development by equating confidence with looking sexy, winning with being judged on their appearance, and personal value with 15 seconds of fame. The objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies is a real concern in a country where 1 in 4 women is a victim of violence, and sexual harassment is rampant. This ad campaign invites girls to self-objectify, inviting girls to post pictures of just one body part, and inviting others to comment and rate it is demeaning and dangerous.
By launching this campaign at a time when sexting is in the headline news, American Apparel is literally placing girls in jeopardy of prosecution by inviting them to post highly sexualized images of themselves online.
Don’t insult us with the usual defense: this is not real girl power; this isnot just girls feeling good, making choices or feeling confident in their bodies. American Apparel is selling girls for parts, and we’re not buying.  We demand that you stop this ad campaign today and commit to more responsible marketing practices.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/americanapparel/

or if you want to make a graphic response go to the anti porn activist site and graffiti some of your old knickers with a message:

http://antipornactivist.com/americanapparel.html

An american Apparel Billboard in the States which was defaced

Want to read more?- Reasons American Apparel Sucks - article

Saturday
Feb272010

It's official: Boobs are Back!

Doutzen Kroes

 Samantha Gradoville 

Miranda Kerr

While we may hope that fashion's power only goes so far as to dictate hem lengths and the next black, truth is fashion also plays a role in shaping our ideal body. For a long time now that body has been androgenous, tall, excruciatingly thin, and flat chested. A few people have been championing the idea of different sizes on the catwalk of late - namely Mark Fast - but now the leader of them all - Ms Miuccia Prada has broken the mold - which is big news - for this is a women whom the fashion industry and editors put on a pedestal and who other designers follow. Normally a few seasons before the rest of the pack - we could see other designers following suite very fast.

Prada cast Doutzen Kroes, Catherine McNeil, Lara Stone, and Miranda Kerr in her show - girls who are not large, but are curvaceous and busty and womanly - something that has been deemed too obscene or too real to appear in a high fashion show for years now.

as reviewed on fashion bible Style.com:

'The clothes themselves were a deliberate, and quietly humorous, compliment to the womanly. If it's the possession of breasts that's been bothering model-casting agents for the past few years, this collection was a nightmare scenario for them. The ample bust was the unavoidable focal point of the silhouette, picked out in balconies of lace ruffles and upstanding pointy-bra formations on raised-waist, wide-skirted dresses and coats. Any girl on the runway who didn't have the natural Bardot-esque equipment was bestowed with it by means of frothy fabric placements, but the eye naturally migrated to the ones who did. The others, young and pretty as they are, marched on in the usual kind of anonymity. In fashion, appreciating the exceptional is always more interesting.

It was nice to see that Prada envisages this being worn by women other than the zombie army of teen models that has roamed her runway recently—and that has influenced others to mimic that uniform aesthetic. Customers, she can be assured, will like that shift—but will it have a bigger ripple effect than that? Miuccia Prada is a fashion-industry influencer. Let's see who scrambles to follow the leader.'

Quote by Sarah Mower - www.style.com
By AnyBody: Elise Slater
Saturday
Feb272010

Psychiatrists back plans for airbrush kitemarks

STOP PRESS - AnyBody brings you this breaking news:
Commenting on today’s [Tuesday] report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists calling for airbrushed images to be ‘kitemarked’, Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson said:
“The Royal College of Psychiatrists makes it crystal clear that airbrushing plays a harmful role when it comes to negative body image and eating disorders.
“Airbrushing has a really damaging impact on people’s self-esteem and that’s why we’ve called for a labelling system.
“Making sure children are taught to be media-savvy and getting ads which feature unrealistic, unattainable images to have a kitemark will be a real step forward.
“I’m meeting with the Advertising Standards Authority today to press these issues.”

Psychiatrists back plans for airbrush kitemarks – SwinsonCommenting on today’s [Tuesday] report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists calling for airbrushed images to be ‘kitemarked’, Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson said:
“The Royal College of Psychiatrists makes it crystal clear that airbrushing plays a harmful role when it comes to negative body image and eating disorders.
“Airbrushing has a really damaging impact on people’s self-esteem and that’s why we’ve called for a labelling system.
“Making sure children are taught to be media-savvy and getting ads which feature unrealistic, unattainable images to have a kitemark will be a real step forward.“I’m meeting with the Advertising Standards Authority today to press these issues.”

Notes to Editors

1. Jo Swinson MP and Lynne Featherstone MP will today meet with representatives of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to press them on what is being done to tackle these serious issues. The Liberal Democrats have been calling for airbrushing to be labelled as part of their Real Women campaign.

2. The Liberal Democrats launched their Real Women campaign in August, which encouraged people to send complaints about airbrushing to the ASA, and resulted in almost 1000 people asking the ASA and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to force advertisers to come clean when using airbrushed images and to ban airbrushing in adverts aimed at children. This resulted in the ASA ruling that the Olay advert featuring Twiggy was ‘misleading’.

3. A recent Liberal Democrat commissioned report by the world’s leading body image experts contained scientific evidence showing how the use of airbrushing to promote body perfect ideals in advertising is causing a host of problems in young women such as eating disorders, depression, extreme exercising and encouraging cosmetic surgery. The paper revealed that:

    * Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being. Any factor, such as idealised media images, that increases body dissatisfaction is therefore an important influence on well-being

    * Negative effects occur in the clear majority of adolescent girls and women in over 100 published scientific studies on the impact of thin, ‘perfected’, media images on girls and women

    * The evidence from many studies documents that ultra-thin and highly muscular ‘body perfect’ ideals have a detrimental effect on women and men

    * Adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to body perfect images

    * A subscription to a fashion magazine increased body dissatisfaction, dieting, and bulimic symptoms amongst adolescent girls who had low levels of social support

    * Curbing the impact of idealised media images leads to improvement in body image and body-related behaviour

4. The Liberal Democrats have passed policies to:

    * Protect children from body image pressure by banning digital retouching in advertising aimed at under 16s

    * Ensure adverts aimed at adults indicate clearly the extent to which they have digitally retouched people

    * Teach modules on body image, health and well-being, and media literacy in schools

    * Ensure Models at London Fashion Week have health certificates from an eating disorder specialist