• Thu, Feb 14 2013

Most Women Want Size Zero Models Banned From Fashion Week Catwalks, Survey Finds

Models on the runway at Rachel Zoe NYFW

A new survey has found that a majority of American women “want to see a ban on size zero models used during NY Fashion Week, with 16% admitting that they would prefer to see fuller figured models featured.” The survey was conducted, in a random turn of events, by a Coupon website but, no matter, feedback’s feedback.

According to the press release, the survey was given to 1,947 women from all around the country–of whom 71% identified as being “interested in fashion.” They were also asked to choose their favorite Fashion Week and the majority said New York.

Onto the interesting stuff:

When asked how they felt about the inclusion of size zero models during NY fashion week, 64% of respondents said they did not agree with these models being showcased, while 19% said they did not mind either way, and 17% said they were fine with the models being used.

Furthermore, those respondents who did not agree with size zero models being used were asked to stipulate their reasons why, to which the majority, 62%, said they felt that these women were bad role models for other young women, while 55% said size zero models gave women a false impression of what is acceptable and normal weight-wise. 31% said size zero models looked ‘dangerously unhealthy’ and so it was unsafe for the models themselves to be used.

When asked whether or not they felt that the fashion industry on the whole should stop using size zero models, the majority, 57%, said they should. 16% felt that only fuller figured models should be used in modelling and, when asked what size they thought models on the catwalks and in magazines should be, the most common answer given was ‘size 14’.

We hope it goes without saying that arbitrarily declaring a new size every model should be… solves nothing.

At this point in our pseudo-fashion industry career (on the extreme periphery of the industry, certainly, but the periphery nonetheless) we’ve become pretty ambivalent about everything that pertains to models and catwalks and who’s responsible and all that. It seems overwhelmingly obvious that the industry’s extreme fetishization of thinness is harmful to everyone (and, apparently, bad for business) while at the same time it seems that most criticism is directed toward the models themselves, as if they’re some willowy Eastern European cabal hellbent on ruining our self-esteem and sustained only by celery.

By which we mean, it’s hard to swallow anything that asserts size zero models should be banned as a solution because there’s no reason to be shaming thin women–women who exist in the difficult space between being blindly glorified for their figures and suffering constant socially acceptable derision–“Skinny girls are gross,” “Men prefer [more "womanly"] bodies,” shouts of “Eat something!” on the street (which we’ve observed more than once in New York).

Size zero models aren’t the problem, in and of themselves. The problem is size zero models in the absence of all other sizes. Still, agencies insist that it’s the clients, clients insist that it’s the agencies, retouchers keep blurring the lines of what’s attainable, models insist they’re naturally thin–which we know can’t be entirely true–while young women (and, increasingly, young men) keep getting the message that in order to be fashionable/attractive/sexually desirable, you must be very thin.

Though we inch along, each Fashion Week, making the smallest progress with racial diversity on the runway, sometimes it seems we’ll never see body diversity–especially when we frame the conversation this way.

(Photo of models on the catwalk at Rachel Zoe this week via Getty)

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  • Nikola

    What would be really nice to see is a variety of shapes, sizes, races and ages. Fashion, and you know, clothing in general, should be available for everyone. It’s sad that most of the famous designers don’t appear to be talented enough to design clothes for anyone other than runway models.

  • Lexi

    I would really like to see models of normal height on the runway. Even if they start including different sizes, that doesn’t help with body acceptance if they’re all 6 feet tall.

    • Nat

      As a 5’2″ woman, I appreciate this.

  • Tusconian

    Another issue, that bugs me incessantly, are such arbitrary numbers being used as the be-all and end-all of what constitutes “healthy” or “attractive.” Of course dress/pants size is the most arbitrary; I generally wear around a size four….but in practice, that means I have worn everything from a 00 to a 9, x-small to large. I know girls who have to have 15 pounds on me who swear up and down they wear zeros and ones, and their clothes fit them fine, and girls who can’t weigh more than 90 pounds insist that they couldn’t squeeze into a zero with Crisco and a coat hanger. And it depends on the brand as well as body shape and height, though the designers using super-thin models is probably not vanity sizing. You see the same with weight. Someone will arbitrarily decide than anyone weighing less than 120 pounds “must be sick,” completely failing to take into account that not all women are six feet tall, and the next person will decide anyone weighing more than 120 pounds is “ew gross fat.” And then the whole BMI fallacy; while not complete nonsense like pants size or number of pounds, people use what should be a generalization to make absolute statements.

    Adding this all into the fact that many runway models are indeed teenagers, who haven’t fully developed, eating disorder or not, while it might be unusual for an adult woman to be five ten and 105, it’s not terribly unusual for a 15 year old girl to be (or a 15 year old boy, for that matter). I think we should have a ban, or at least regulations, on girls under 18 being on the runway for a variety of reasons. Zero of those reasons being adult women who can’t understand that “body-positivity” does not mean slamming girls and women for having a body type you think is “gross” or “unhealthy” for arbitrary reasons.

  • Nat

    I’m a natural size zero, 5’2″ tall. And I hate how much flak I get. I eat all the time, but still need “meaton my bones.” Banning size zero models helps no one. How about diversity if sizes? I get called bony, twig, gross, etc all the time. I get told to eat more, stop being anorexic, etc. But heaven forbid I tell the 300 pound woman to eat less or stop being fat, or call her anything less than perfect. Not that I’d ever be rude like that. How about short models, too? People can generally control their weight, but no one controls height.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

      Fashion shows and beauty contests are really for the benefit of men more than anything else.

      This is a misogynistic practice in society, and I’m not being judgmental about it.

      Personally, a woman is more sexy to me by her intellect and the way she thinks than her body… I rather like the athletic femme fatale or the she wolf/vampiress type…

  • http://twitter.com/PortraitOfMmeX Madame X

    People, get a grip. Runway fashion is rarely about the clothes that you wear as an average person on an average day. Why is it that everything has to be specifically geared toward everybody? Next should we ban tall basketball players because average sized people also like playing basketball a lot? No. You can play basketball for fun and the fact that you can’t be a pro because of your body doesn’t stop you from playing for fun. Well, you don’t have to look like a professional fashion model to like fashion or to dress fashionably.