UK clothing chain Top Shop has recently gotten into hot water for featuring wafer thin model Codie Young in a campaign. Eating disorder groups rallied against the ad, citing the use of a size zero model as irresponsible. Then it got interesting. Here is the original ad, plus the replacement one:
I am with the advocacy groups on the first image — the tilt of Young’s body is not flattering, whereas the second one, with the jacket on, at least gives the illusion that she is of normative size.
But what’s truly interesting is the model’s reaction, posted on her personal blog. Her spelling leaves something to be desired and she needs to learn about number lists, but there you go:
Firstly I feel very hurt because these supposed professionals who deal with anorexic sufferers, everyday for the job/career. Are talking about me as if I’m not a real person (like I’m just a model used for them to prove some point) which is not the case I am a real person with real feelings just like everyone else and comments made by these people do hurt and affect me. So I feel its very necessary for me to say something!
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!
For someone like Ms Davies to say its not okay for me to be this thin ( which is how I was created) basicly says its not okay for me to be who I am!
I am very happy with my body and how I look because its apart of who I am! Throughout my entire childhood I was called anorexic and people would ask if I was bulimic. And it was really hard sometimes for me to deal with as I have always been this way.
You know what some people are just naturally skinny and even if I tried to put on weight it wouldn’t matter, because it doesn’t matter what I eat, I dont put it on. sorry to dissapoint you but why should I be accused of something so awful as being anorexic when I’m most definitally not. I love food as anyone who actually knows me would know!!!
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 [sic] 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 [sic] me just as being called obese affends [sic] overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!
I’ll start with my one and only “offensive” point (ie: going on the offensive): Ms. Young is wildly mistaken that overweight/obese people don’t get called out for their size. What a silly and short-sighted remark to make! I would beg her, and any other person who thinks this, to dwell on the ABSENCE of larger bodies on TV, in film, advertising and fashion. Anorexic/too thin models are being called out for their bodies and what message they portray. Fat people simply aren’t ALLOWED to be seen AT ALL.
But more importantly, regardless of whether or not Ms. Young is too thin, or the ad was irresponsible, I think her blog post brings up an important point: you don’t have to be overweight to be discriminated against and bullied about your body.
Incredibly thin women are routinely picked on, including and especially those women who are considered bony, flat and “unwomanly.” Our own body standards — and even the “feminine” ones that I embrace to bolster my self-esteem, can cut quite negatively the other way. Sometimes, we need a reminder of that — body shaming goes BOTH ways, and women in particular are held up to almost impossible standards when it comes to our bodies, ownership of them, and what other people will say.
Let’s say we take Ms. Young at her word that she is not anorexic or bulimic, just as we would want people to take US at our word that we don’t sit on the couch and shove potato chips into our mouth (healthy at any size). It must be frustrating, demeaning and painful for her to constantly be accused of having a serious mental/eating disorder. And for that, she deserves our compassion. (and she, in turn, I would beg, should rethink her broad comments about overweight/obese people — the knife cuts both ways!)