Sunday, May 20, 2012

Curve Your Appetite

Tyra Banks recently wrote an essay on The Daily Beast applauding Vogue magazine’s ban on models who “appear to have an eating disorder.”

She writes: “… the truth is that if I was just starting to model at age 17 in 2012, I could not have had the career that I did. I would’ve been considered too heavy. In my time, the average model’s size was a four or six. Today you are expected to be a size zero. When I started out, I didn’t know such a size even existed.”

2012 rookie Crystal Renn was once a “plus-size model” and has documented her career (and weight issues) in Hungry, her memoir from a couple years ago.
I can’t speak to the influence that SI (and other publications) might have on inspiring unhealthy decisions in girls. It’s worth pointing out that neither Tyra nor Crystal has taken an anti-swimsuit-issue stance; it’s more a critique of an industry that has an unrealistic threshold of what is acceptable (or sexy).

The thing is, while the average weight of the models must be dwindling as the years go by, I have never seen any particular SI model, from the 1970s or from the 2010s, who has struck me as obviously underweight. I don’t know if I have some kind of mental recalibration that goes on in my head that justifies every bikini-clad girl I see, but all those models look good and healthy to me. Except maybe Cintia Dicker.
Girl is skinny.
It didn’t really hit me until 2012, so I looked back to her rookie year in 2009. She’s been skinny the whole time, but in ’09 it seemed a little more fun & natural, instead of near-skeletal.
2009

2010

2011

I don’t know what to make of it, and you certainly can’t tell just from looking at someone whether or not she has an eating disorder. All body types are different, and one person’s unhealthy weight is another person’s natural state. But the skinniness that critics of SI are fond of pointing out has never been so obvious to me than in the form of Cintia Dicker. 2012 is the first time it’s interrupted my appreciation of the swimsuit issue.

2 comments:

Publicola said...

I think underweight models aren't as prevalent in the swimsuit issue as they are in fashion for the simple reason that the swimsuit issue is geared exclusively towards a red-blood male audience who don't find skinny girls attractive.

Swimsuitologist said...

That's a good point. I've heard that there's some irony that Heidi Klum hosts "Project Runway" - fashion designers don't know what to do with her curves.

I do think SI has a range, with your Cintia Dickers on one end and your Ashley Richardsons on the other.