Lisa Hilton tears the too skinny/too fat debate a new one. Her exposure of the double standard (including that of feminists) between men and women is relentless Read every word:
We rarely get hysterical about the weight qualifications required of male sportsmen. Jockeys, boxers, and wrestlers put themselves through torture to make weight. A survey published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine lists a range of weight-loss methods for jockeys that would make any model agency proud—69 percent skip meals, 34 percent use diuretics, 67 percent sweat off the pounds in the sauna, 30 percent regularly vomit and 40 percent use laxatives. So where are the angry headlines and government initiatives to fatten up our jockeys? Perhaps in sport, the sacrifices are viewed as noble, and the rewards (prize money or prestigious college scholarships) seen as secondary to the noble end of winning for its own sake. Shifting dresses is after all a frivolous little multibillion dollar industry. Or is it that men are considered psychologically robust enough to admire the buff beauties of GQ or Men’s Health without getting their tighty-whities in a twist? Women, it is implied, are too fragile to make a distinction between the Victoria’s Secret catalogue and their own closets. Young women who choose to conform to the demands of their industry in order to maximize their earnings are portrayed as irrational and deluded, while young men who make comparable choices are admired.
And for the record, as a guy who has spent some time with the nickname “Fatty McButterpants” and is about as liberal as they come in the “morphological freedom” movement, I think “fat studies” remains one of the most absurd new movements in academia. The only advantage is that they are as opposed to the nanny state food rules as I am. Ugh.
Update: Jezebel’s Jenna retorts with equal intensity:
Another issue that Hilton completely ignores is the question of whether the modeling industry may well attract girls already predisposed to disordered eating — and what implications this might have for the industry’s duty to be a safe working environment, if in fact it is the industry’s diktats that can push a young and already vulnerable population into seriously unhealthy territory. It’s not hard to look for anecdotal evidence of models with eating disorders; Crystal Renn, who lost her teen years to exercise bulimia and anorexia in order to fit into sample sizes, has said “Modeling, basically, pulled the trigger.” Three models, Ana Carolina Reston, Luisel Ramos, and Eliana Ramos, died of complications from their eating disorders in 2007 and 2008; one had eaten only Diet Coke and lettuce for the week leading up to her death. Coco Rocha has admitted the use of diuretics to control her weight in the past. Other substances, especially Adderall, for energy without appetite, were commonplace when I was in the industry. Ali Michael, at 17, was sent home from Paris for gaining 5 lbs when she started to recover from her eating disorder, which had cost her her menstrual cycle. Natalia Vodianova‘s relationship with food changed dramatically when she began modeling — and her sudden, and unhealthy, post-pregnancy weight loss, both spurred her career to new heights and causef her hair to fall out. (When she regained 9 lbs, giving her a total weight of 115 lbs, her clients and agency were displeased.) The model pictured here, Natasha Poly, has not spoken publicly about her eating habits, but I included her photo to show just exactly what kind of beauty standard Lisa Hilton thinks is reasonable and harmless.
This is an excellent point, and the rest of Jenna’s critique of Hilton is supremely well written and researched. That said, Jenna didn’t rebut Hilton’s over all point that people exaggerate when blaming models and discredit women by assuming eating disorders are a result of wanting to look like a model alone. The issue, clearly, is extremely complicated and both authors are putting up valid points. I guess the debate rages on.
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