The local designers of Australian Fashion Week have decided to avoid showcasing any full figured beauties on the catwalk this year. Unlike the year before, where a number of plus-size models were hired for the prestigious event, the runway this week was graced with the usual parade of waif-like women and effeminate men, with irritated designers forced to defend their selections to the foreseeable storm of criticism. The situation follows the nation’s exhausting debate surrounding fashion models and body image.
The curvaceous woman has for centuries been regarded as the uncontested object of sensual desire. From the Rubenesque goddesses of classical art to the voluptuous temptresses of glossy men’s magazines, ample breasts and plump hips are with little doubt the deadliest assets a woman can have. The typical fashion model however offers something different. With striking features and a seemingly otherworldly essence, the fashion model contains the necessary ingredients required to promote a particular lifestyle and more importantly, to sell a particular product (in this case, wildly overpriced garments). I admit I depend on zero statistics in the following statement, but I am quite comfortable to assume that a man, in his more private occupations, is more likely to pick up his issue of Playboy than your issue of Harper’s Bazaar. I would also guess that that a woman would prefer the broader, more masculine affections of the workers fixing the roads outside her home to the timorous, elf-like qualities male models seem to be exhibiting in recent shows.
The slaves of fashion claim that there is no room for “real” women on the catwalk, and commercially speaking perhaps this is true. But one thing is certain: women (and men) should definitely not look to the runway for their examples of beauty.