Russian-born supermodel Natalia Vodianova has been a remarkable crusader for healthier body image in the fashion industry. Many of us fashion bloggers remember a CFDA panel in which she spoke candidly about her experience with eating disorders and unreasonable pressures in the modeling world. For context:
At five-nine, she weighed only 106 pounds, her hair was thinning, she was anxious and depressed—and she was a runway star with her first major advertising contract. After a friend confronted her, she sought help and got healthier, adding on a few pounds. But when she got up to 112 pounds, her agent sat her down: Designers were complaining she wasn’t as thin as she used to be. “I defended myself, saying it was crazy to consider measurements like 33-27-34 to be normal. I think because I was one of the girls most in demand it helped me to be able to forget the incident quickly. On the other hand, it makes me think that if I had been weak at the time, I can really imagine how it could have helped me endanger myself.”
It was significant at the time because Vodianova was arguably the biggest star of the ’00s and models, even those as established as she, seldom speak out about the toxic perceptions of beauty in their industry.
…Which is why we’re surprised Vodianova is in a little bit of shit for saying something regrettable while seated on a model panel at this weekend’s Vogue festival. During a discussion about their famously lean physiques, she quipped:
“C’mon guys, you know it’s better to be skinny than to be fat.”
Vodianova was quick to add that by “fat,” she meant “obese,” and wasn’t using it in the parlance of fashion (where “fat” designates “over a 2″) (a “loose 2″). She clarified, kind of, by saying: “NHS are fighting against obesity… children taken away from their parents because they are too fat–read Daily Mail.” Which, okay, doesn’t exactly smooth things over.
So, although it’s not quite “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” it’s still an extremely unfortunate soundbite coming from someone who has worked hard to fight eating disorders and the shrinking standards of the modeling industry. Come on, Natalia, remember what you went through.