• Wed, Jul 13 2011

Topshop Removes Image Of ‘Size 0′ Teen Model Amidst Criticism From Eating Disorder Support Groups

Topshop took down the above image of 18-year-old model Codie Young after a hailstorm of criticism from anorexia support groups claiming the image would encourage disordered eating in teenage girls. Topshop (and Young herself) insist she is naturally slim but the chain removed the image and swapped it with another, in which Young’s figure is obscured by a coat.

“Topshop is confident that Codie is a healthy young woman and we do not feel it necessary to remove her from our imagery,” said a spokesman for Topshop, “However we do recognize regretfully that the angle this image has been shot at may accentuate Codie’s proportions making her head look bigger and neck longer in proportion to her body . . . We have taken down that specific image at the earliest opportunity. Topshop is proud of its heritage of celebrating individual-looking girls who offer an alternative more unusual beauty.He also insisted that Codie was not an (American) size 0.

…Which she is. According to her. She responded on her blog:

Firstly this is very hurtful to me as I am naturally skinny; and anyone who knows me would know that I have been naturally skinny my entire life as my dad is 6’5 tall and skinny an my mum is also skinny, not to mention that my entire family on my dads side are all tall and skinny like me! … And finally yes okay I maybe an American size 0-2 and a UK size 8 so what. There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them! Just because someone eats a lot doesn’t make them healthy. Just like not eating anything doesnt make you healthy. And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends me just as being called obese affends overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!

Setting aside the fact that plenty of “overweight/obese” people take shit all the time, the issue here really isn’t Codie being naturally thin. It’s that Topshop chose to use her and photographed (or Photoshopped) her in a way that exaggerated her small frame.

So. What’s the problem here:

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

And here’s Codie on the cover of Vogue Australia… next to, grimly, the headline: “The Model Weight Debate.”

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  • ceebee

    Topshop do it all the time. I work there and am horrified at some of the images dominating the shopfloor. Sure, celebrate the unusual (although achingly ‘modelly’) look of the girls but god’s sake they need to stop celebrate ankles that look about to snap and painfully protruding hip bones – that’s dangerous territory.

  • Katie55

    As a nautual, and HEATHLY size zero, im sick of getting crap for it. Codie says it all. im tired of being hurt and dicriminated because people dont feel good about themselves, all i have ever gotten is put down and honestly, if i could gain the weight just to get people off my back i…i would. heres a fact for you ….. nomatter what your size is, your’re not happy with it.

    • MM

      Yeah, it must really suck to have your body type represented as the ideal nearly everywhere! What a bummer.

    • AS

      More of a response to MM than you, Katie– so because Katie’s size 0 is the ideal in the fashion world, the problems she may go through because of it doesn’t matter at all? That’s BS. To sit here and essentially say “your problems don’t matter because the fashion world LOVES a size zero!” is trash. People are make fun of others for practically ANYTHING, no matter what is considered the “ideal” in appearance.

      And Katie I have to agree with you…I feel like sometimes a lot of us feel stuck, a lot of people are striving towards a “better” self– but the “better” self is so loose that sometimes it’s hard to achieve at all.

    • anon02

      Katie, I know exactly what you mean. I am a size zero and have been getting crap since fourth grade for it- hearing anorexia rumors as a nine year old was extremely harmful to my psyche for several years. I have even gone on diets to try and gain weight without success. It’s tough, especially when my friends tease me, but I try to embrace my size and accept that it is healthy for me, and I think that all people at their healthy size and weight should do the same.
      Stay strong <3

  • A

    To be fair, it really has nothing to do with you being a size 0 or a size 20. Its more about what’s healthy for your body type and its natural weight. If I can see your rib bones while you drink a diet coke on the beach I’ll probably think your not healthy, the same way I look at someone with several rolls who is eating french fries. Be whatever size makes you happy (and stop listening to what people say or criticize you for). That said, in order for this epidemic of unhealthy body image to stop the media HAS TO STOP putting images out there of impossibly thin girls. We should be constantly exposed to the average…not the extreme unobtainable waif look that so many girls hurt themselves over. So if you are a size 0 naturally and eat whatever you want that’s great but also know that you are not the average body type and girls should not be aspiring to be that if its physically impossible without extreme measures.

    • porkchop

      Exactly. This image should not be aspirational. If that’s natural for her, fine, but maybe she’s just plain not fat enough to be a good model.

  • Liz

    Okay, this model is obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer:

    “There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend them! Just because someone eats a lot doesn’t make them healthy.”

    She doesn’t think that people say bad things about fat people? Isn’t “sizeism” the last socially acceptable form of discrimination? If this model thinks she takes crap for being skinny, I don’t think this girl could handle the grief she’d get if she were actually a size 18.

    Also, I love the spelling/grammar errors in this passage from her blog. I had hoped for a moment that maybe “affend” was a British spelling, but it’s not; she just doesn’t know how to spell it.

    And finally, this ad does look a lot like the Ralph Lauren ad from a few years ago that was taken down and thoroughly apologized for by the company when it was clear that the model’s head was about the same size as her waist.

  • Daisy

    @Katie55: I think this issue goes a lot further than whether or not Codie Young (or you, for that matter) is a natural size 0. It’s about magazines and brands like Topshop idealizing that shape. Which is NOT EVERYONE’S natural shape. But it’s portrayed as an ideal, as perfection, which we should all strive to achieve. The BIG issue here is that it stimulates anorexia and other eating disorders in people (and even small children!) that aren’t naturally built like that. The more people are exposed to media that admire an (for most people, maybe not you or her, but most people) unhealthy body shape, the higher the numbers get, the more eating disorders are diagnosed. And people die from that. So it is not about you or anyone else taking crap or being put down. It’s about the media portraying dangerous ideals and putting dangerous ideas in a lot of people’s minds.

    Personally I’m a UK size 10 with a LOT of curves, and I’ve always been proud of my figure. I just wish everyone could be, size 0 or size 24, as long as its not unhealthy.

    • Alex

      By your logic fat people shouldn’t be allowed to in the media either. Better cancel Mike and Molly! It’s not about putting them down for being overweight ,it’s just that children might watch the show and think obesity is okay. Obesity can kill people you know.

    • Daisy

      I have no problem with fat people in the media, but I think you’ll have to admit that they’re portrayed in a whole other way, the whole discours around fat people is different.

      My point: the media should use more diversity in the people they show (shape, height, age, gender, race, etc.), but should never idealize any shape or form that tends to be unhealthy for most people. So, people shouldn’t be encouraged to be either skinny or fat if it’s not the way they are naturally built. If the media were to idealize obese people, I would be equally worried.

      Let’s face it: most people or normally built and have a normal weight, then why should they feel fat or bad about themselves because they don’t fit into the mold of superskinny extra-photoshopped models?

  • Jon

    Haters. They are going to hate.

    • L.

      Of course someone named Jon would find this attractive and not give a shit about EDs. I bet you’re fat too, but who cares because men can be fat slobs and still get models! Not.

    • Jon

      That’s really hurtful. You shouldn’t tease people (men or women) about their weight.

  • TS

    She has an alien appearance, which they may find appealingly unusual. Very few teenage girls or women would naturally have her shape. It has never made sense to me that fashion designers, stores and magazines feature clothing on figures that most women can’t relate to.

    I want to consider what those clothes would look like on me before I buy them. On a waifish thin figure, I would immediately assume it wouldn’t work. I’m not overweight at all, but I do have natural, womanly curves. Woman are not intended to be skeletal sticks; fashion designed for the uber thin have a very small market. Does that make any real sense? Why wouldn’t you want to produce goods that you can market to 80% of the population instead of 5% (the other 15% are obese and require different fit standards — which most manufacturer won’t bother with either. My sister had to get a dress for a funeral. She spent and entire, depressing day trying to find something decent for a size 18 woman. Forget it. She ended up NOT buying anything because everything was so poorly proportioned.

  • vomiting

    Why does the poll not include an option for agreeing with Codie or Topshop? Genuine question.

  • Elizabeth

    I have the opportunity to see both sides of this argument/problem. My sister is a size-8 and lives a healthy lifestyle but still worries about how she looks and asks me if she looks fat! She is not fat, I’m fat. I’m a 26/28 and I hate it. People shout abuse at me in the street and seem to think that I am fair game. I find it really hard to lose weight even with diet and exercise and can’t stand that people have accepted that you can still make fun of fat people. It’s all over the media with fat people being branded as being ‘desperate’ and ‘grateful for the attention’. We do have self-worth! Sorry to rant but the media is the problem. They choose what is and isn’t acceptable and print only what fits into that but then claim that they’re giving us what we want. This girl may be naturally very thin but it doesn’t look healthy(thanks to Topshop) but nor should there be pictures of Beth Ditto ‘glamourising’ obesity. They should use healthy, ‘real-life’ women and get back to the diversity of beauty.

  • Monziee

    I see both sides of the argument and definataley katies point of vies as well, i was very skinny when i was young as well and i coped all the bullying gthat you all say you got and then when I strated to grow into a women i put on weight all of a sudden and for a few months people said i looked healthier and better but then people would start to tease me and call me fat even though i wasn’t actally, i was average and my mom would try to put me on diets and even my friends tried to stop me eating junk until finally i said yes i might not be as skinny as i used to be but im fine with it, i love my body and i don’t give a crap what you all think about it. And its not fair to be judged on your weight, especially in the conditions where you can’t control it.