Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why Are Models So Thin?

A list of possible reasons for the trend of life-threateningly thin runway models in today's fashion world, gleaned from Emily Nussbaum's New York Magazine article "The Incredible Shrinking Model".
  • The "Aspirational Theory": we all -- but especially those who would buy the expensive clothes modelled on runways -- want to be thinner. Ultra-thin models are that peak we all strive for.

  • The "Blank Canvas Theory": clothes look better on a body that doesn't bulge anywhere, a body that the clothes can overpower. "And the better the clothes are, the more extreme the skinniness must be," writes Nussbaum, of this theory.

  • The "Hanger Theory": a variation on the blank canvas, this theory says that since clothes hangers cannot walk, the women should be more like clothes hangers -- just a frame to hold the garment up.

  • The "Cycles of Fashion Theory": every possible body type will one day be in vogue because fashion, like everything else, needs change to show people something new. "The Gibson girl gives way to the flapper, then to the big-shouldered forties girl and her busty fifties counterpart, and on to Twiggy, the eighties Amazons, Kate Moss, the waifs, and heroin chic ..."

  • The "Anti-Obesity Theory": Americans are really fat these days, and the fashion world is striking back. Fat = Poor, Unsophisicated, and Out-of-Control. Skinny is the opposite.

  • The "Tautology Theory": As Nussbaum writes, "The clothes are on very thin girls, so clothes must look best on very thin girls."

  • The "Anexoria Nervosa Theory": Models aren't thin. What are you talking about?

  • The "Supermodel Backlash Theory": this is the inevitable reaction to the 80s and 90s era of highly paid, statuesque, Amazonian supermodels -- the Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer era. The industry is merely correcting itself by making models less famous, less highly-paid, and, naturally, less there at all They are literally smaller and thinner to compensate for the over-sized public images of their famous predecessors.

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