Friday, 27 May 2011

The Big Picture

I've recently had the privilege of contributing to a fabulous new publication, Slink; a fashion and lifestyle bible for women size 14+.The magazine was founded by stylist and journalist  Rivkie Baum, who wanted to provide a magazine celebrating curvier women- this isn't about curvy vs skinny though, its just about being happy with how you look.The fact is that most of us are closer to a size 14 than to the sizes we see on the catwalk and on the pages of most glossies. 

I recently attended a talk by All Walks Beyond the Catwalk who celebrate not only plus size models, but  all different shapes, sizes, colours and ages that wouldn't normally make it onto the catwalk or pages of the mainstream fashion industry. Model Erin O'Connor spoke about how her career made her appreciate her own unique look, but that she still comes across challenges, being too tall to fit into designers' sample sizes for example. Other models shot by Rankin to promote the AWBTC message include more mature models, those who are too short to walk on runways, plus size models and ethnic minorities.My new favourite model is Naomi Shimada,pictured above and in the centre below in white. Naomi says of AWBTC:

Fashion is screaming out for something like this. I was a straight model once but just didn’t want to play the game any more. I saw what it was doing to other models. Women pick up those images and think they are real. Now I’ve crossed over into ‘plus size,’ and I’m part of something much more real and interesting. All Walks is such a great idea because we need to celebrate a much more diverse range of beauty.’

I'm similarly impressed by Adele speaking out about her weight.Whilst I don't agree with everything she says (particularly not her recent tax rant!)I feel strongly that Adele is making a very important point about women in the public eye being celebrated only for how they look these days. She has oodles of talent, why should she look like a model too?I actually think that she always looks stunning, but the fact that her weight has been made such an issue in the press is a sad sign of our current obsession.Its not like she's unhealthily overweight-she's an average sized girl.

Its hard to strike a balance in the big weight debate- I'm perfectly happy to acknowledge that there are women out there, both in the limelight and out of it, who are naturally thin, and I'm in no way saying that they look anything less than amazing.Similarly there are women who work very hard at staying slim, and I have total respect for them-if thats what makes you feel happy and good about yourself then great. I hate nothing more people implying that those who are skinny are less feminine or beautiful than curvy women. It's all really part of a much bigger picture;what we look like shouldn't be such a big deal.It's nothing like as bad for men, though our quest for physical perfection is starting to infiltrate their world with anti-ageing products and plastic surgery for men on the rise.Which is a real shame, because I always fall for men based on their character rather than their looks- talent, intelligence, kindness, even flaws; all these will have me head over heels long before a set of abs or a chiselled jaw. And I think that we're massively insulting men in general to assume that they're completely different from us and so fickle that they're only interested in what women look like. So who are the real culprits?Isn't it other women who we dress for?So when will we stop putting this ridiculous pressure for perfection on each other?I really hope that by the time I'm Helen Mirren's age, whether I look as cracking as her or not, we'll be living in a time where women are valued for their talents and personalities as much as for their appearances.

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