Following the re-emergence of Kate Moss’s controversial “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” comment, the media has witnessed a fresh surge of articles regarding female body consciousness. In some ways, body image has been a concern for womankind ab initio; however it is clear that over the past few decades there has been an increase in our levels of exposure to this phenomenon. Magazines and television programmes depict Size Zero models, while a new, specialist vocabulary has evolved to include words such as “thinspiration”. The mainstreaming of such notions, and the subtle shift from slim to thin, is certainly something that needs to be explored, and it is right that an industry which is in some way responsible for the rise of people such as Kate Moss should in turn put her back in her place, as and when the need arises.
Arguably, Kate’s main mistake when she made her unfortunate comment was that she confused the professional with the personal. Perhaps Kate should have given it to us straight and said that nothing tastes as good as a £48million net worth feels. After all, not many people could argue with that, whereas her actual choice of words essentially insults anyone who does not possess the stature of a supermodel, and on top of this chides them for – shock horror – actually eating food.
…supermodels are basically the other end of an extreme…
Fair enough, Kate’s diet revolves around her status as a professional supermodel, with her success and her salary depending upon her ability to maintain a certain type of body. Aside from the obvious size difference, Kate can be compared in many ways to a sumo wrestler: they too must preserve a specific physique in order to succeed in their chosen career. However, the difference lies in the way that we view these two different professions.
Nobody would ever say that a sumo wrestler possesses a healthy, normal body. The difference is that models such as Moss are praised for their abnormalities, instead of being regarded – like sumo wrestlers – as oddities of the entertainment industry. Somewhere, somehow, the fact that supermodels are basically the other end of an extreme became obscured. This is where the problem lies: when an extreme becomes the norm.
…something to look at on the other side of the glass and take inspiration from.
As long as Size Zero models are viewed as abnormal, as long as super-skinny connotes potential health issues and not sex appeal, society is safe. The problem arises when the media portrays these women as role models, not supermodels. These women should be intangible ideals, walking mannequins: they aren’t real. Of course they exist, but in the same way that a £995 Burberry trench coat exists. It’s something that is excessive and slightly ridiculous, something to look at on the other side of the glass and take inspiration from. If you actually buy it, you’re a bit of a tit… But, whereas a Burberry trench will put a dent in your wallet, becoming a Size Zero will damage your body, and the mind-set that accompanies such strict dieting is arguably psychologically unsound.
In the same way that we are concerned by the recent rise in obesity levels, we should treat the opposite extreme with similar disdain. Super-skinny is not the antidote to supersized, and perhaps if the media spent more time praising normal bodies, society would create more realistic aims for itself.