Supermodel Natalia Vodianova got into a bit of trouble earlier this week when–while seated on a model panel at the Vogue festival–she offered a rather unfortunate soundbite: “C’mon guys, you know it’s better to be skinny than to be fat.” A minor shitstorm ensued, partly because it’s a slow news cycle and partly because Vodianova herself has done a lot of work to fight negative body image and increasing pressures to be (extremely) thin in the modeling industry.
She’s now filed a response. The native Russian says she grew up hungry, the world is much too obsessed with consuming, the dieting industry is evil and… she was taken out of context. She was doing it for laughs. Here’s her statement in full:
I guess the reaction of the press is expected to be negative when I said it’s better to be skinny then to be fat at the Vogue Festival this past weekend. However on the background of arriving from China where most people leave under the poverty line and have to share food and watch how much they eat to survive and on the background of how I grew up where sometimes I had to skip meals so there would be food for my little disabled sister and that feeling of missing bread so much some days because on some days we had no money to buy any (reason I had ulcers as little girl was constant irregular eating) could give an explanation why I felt moved to give another prospective on this issue.
I felt angry actually now I think about it. Our industry is scrutinised for giving false image and criteria of beauty and provoking eating disorders however there are other industries that might be even more to blame like food industry that constantly reinventing ways of pushing food on us. Makes people stuff fridges with food, buying pills, millions of books on diets, shopping for the right clothes to hide those extra few pounds, beauty products. I guess some would say that’s what makes our economy go around. Yes, I choose to do more and eat less. Sorry world economy, I am a bad client!
It makes me feel even more sad that so much has been taken out of contexts by tabloid media. It happened to me in the past and still follows me around (like anorexia that I never had would be a good example! Just another case where words were interpreted at the desire of the journalist and copied by many). This time a really fun two hours I shared with Lily, Eva and Jourdan and our audience, where we had everyone laughing through most of it and where for 5 minutes I felt like a stand up comedian and had to add NHS and Daily Mail into it just to lighten the heavy subject of body issue up, turned into a sour one.
Again taking into consideration that the format of the event was not a speech by me but interaction with the audience it is clearly been blown out of proportion by some journalist/s to create a scandal. If I was giving a speech I would have chosen my words more carefully of course but considering the format and that so many people came up to me afterwards and told me how happy they were to have laughed and were glad that I was so “normal” and direct at the conference I doubt I offended someone there and if I did I apologise because I surely only meant to highlight a different point of view.
Back on the topic of discussion I wish I did say at the time, that I assume there is very little Anorexia or Bulimia issues in countries like Africa, China and Russia today!
In Vodianova’s defense, the statement did seem in jest and knowingly flippant… but it’s still a potentially harmful message coming from someone who has experienced the industry’s brutal standards of thinness firsthand.