The West African country of Mauritania is known for its so-called fat farms. Women, especially young girls, are taken into the Sahara Desert and are given (or sometimes force-fed) camel’s milk to fatten them up, in a practice known as ‘gavage’. Being a well-rounded or even morbidly obese woman is a sign of opulence and beauty. Mothers often start fattening up their daughters at a very young age to ensure they are big enough by the time they are ready for marriage – often around 14.
This practice has now taken an even darker turn. Modern-day Mauritanian women-on-the-go find it to be too time-consuming. The wonderful answer? Appetite-inducing pills. VICE has made an interesting documentary exploring the risks women are willing to take in order to be considered beautiful and desirable by men.
This pharmaceutical gavage often leads to infertility and unequal distribution of fat as it enlarges certain parts of the body, leaving arms and legs skinny. Scary? Yes.
This is very much an act of patriarchy as women continue to measure their sense of desirability and value against what a man finds appealing – disguised as tradition.
Australian model Ruby Rose recently wrote and produced a video entitled ‘Break Free’, which has since gone viral.
The video’s description reads: ‘A short film about gender roles, Trans, and what it is like to have an identity that deviates from the status quo.’
For the most part, people are responding positively to her video (the video has over 125,000 shares and 95,000 likes on Facebook, with over 250,000 views on YouTube), while others say that it doesn’t represent everyone’s journey. Well, obviously not. This video is about her journey – the operative word being ‘her’.
Writers Holly Eagleson and Lauren Wade from TakePart decided to remake fashion ads, replacing female models with male ones. The results were rather shocking, showing the blatant objectification of women in fashion ads.
The above ad for Sisley, shot by controversial photographer Terry Richardson, shows a emaciated female model, handcuffed and being sexually abused. How is that selling the clothes?
American Apparel is another company that’s always in the spotlight for the wrong reasons – known for using teenage-looking models posing in sexually suggestive ways.
Tom Ford makes great fragrances, yet his ads are often extremely offensive to women.
Why use such graphic, sexual imagery to sell fragrances and clothing? Are all creative directors narrow-minded misogynists?
Elizabeth Daniels, a psychologist at Oregon State University, now estimates that posting sexy ‘selfies’ or pictures of yourself on social media actually makes you less desirable/attractive/likeable to your peers – specifically female ones.
The study, published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture, asked 58 girls aged 13 to 18 and 60 young adult women aged 17 to 25 to answer questions related to a young woman’s Facebook page.
The groups were split in two and half got a profile with a very sexy picture; the other half got the same profile of the same woman, but with a more conservative profile pic.
Participants across the board gave the more conservative/less sexy pic higher marks in physical attractiveness, social attractiveness and competence.
Something we already knew? A form of slut-shaming?
Supporters of feminism generally believe that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. But some people equate the feminist ideology with a hatred of men.
The ‘Women Against Feminism’ Tumblr page has gained a huge following in the last few weeks as the ever-growing Facebook page encourages women to post pictures of themselves holding signs saying why they are against feminism.
The reasons why these women hate feminism are listed on the page, including:
1. Equal rights already exist
2. Feminism is about censorship
3. Feminism promotes the idea that women are fragile damsels-in-distress
4. Feminism discriminates against men
5. The idea that a patriarchy exists is a fantasy
6. It’s your choice whether you have equal pay or not
7. Feminists exaggerate rape statistics
8. Feminism is about policing other women
Are these women confused about what feminism means or are they merely oblivious to the fact that not all women are liberated, educated and treated fairly by society and their families?
Nothing just got even smaller – much smaller. Preppy US clothing retailer J.Crew is rolling out new sizes in their stores, and you can now buy, wait for it … XXXS or 000 size clothing. Naturally, many customers regarded the news as preposterous, especially considering the new sizing is targeted at adult women. A spokesman for the company said: ‘We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried. Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small. To further put it into perspective, these sizes add up to the smallest possible percentage of our overall sizing assortment. Also to note, J.Crew’s sizes run across the board to try and accommodate as many customers as possible… We run up to size 16, we carry petites and talls, and our shoe sizes run from 5-12. [It’s] all based on customer demand.’
Of course, we recognise that bodies around the world are all very different, but we simply cannot support this type of body labelling. Being called a triple zero is simply demeaning; as it encourages women to squeeze into XXXS jeans and strive for a less-than-nothing figure. This can only lead us down a very dark, dangerous, unhealthy path.
The music video to the new song by soul singer John Legend, called “You & I (Nobody in the World)” is so beautiful it almost had me in tears. It shows that all women – no matter their insecurity – are beautiful, valuable and loved . Watch it here:
Photographers spotted Axelle Despiegelaere in the crowd while she was cheering for her home country of Belgium a few weeks ago at the World Cup in Brazil. Winning instant fame on social media, the gorgeous 17-year-old has now landed a L’Oréal ad. The cosmetics company released a promotional video for L’Oréal Professionnel Paris showing her getting her tresses done. Watch it here:
In other modelling news… Ford modelling agency founder Eileen Ford, who built an empire and was responsible for launching the careers of Candice Bergen, Lauren Hutton and Christie Brinkley among countless others, has died in the US, aged 92.
The Stop The Beauty Madness campaign
A brilliant new campaign aims to change the way many of us think about our own worth – valuing ourselves in terms of outward beauty and equating beauty with success in life.
Stop The Beauty Madness campaign consists of a series of 25 ads branded with all-too honest wording, which highlights today’s crazy beauty standards.
The campaign wants you to ‘feel like you’ve been socked in the gut’ when you view these candid ads, says founder Robin Rice.
‘My main mission is to say if women are worried about their weight and their looks to the point that they’re not actually putting themselves [out] in the world, we’re missing out on some really extraordinary individuals and some really important conversations we need to be having,’ Rice told The Huffington Post.
What do you think of these ads?
Karl Lagerfeld’s cat gets own fashion book
You’ve probably heard about the Kaiser’s love for his cat, Choupette, who has her own Instagram account, a bag named after her, nannies who cater to her every whim… Now she is getting her very own photography book, called Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat, written by Patrick Mauriès and Jean Christophe Napias and photographed by Lagerfeld himself. The book will be a tell-all tale of this famous cat’s fashionable lifestyle.
What Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes’s baby might look like
Two of the world’s most beautiful people are having a baby together. So, it’s naturally assumed that their child will be, well, as Ellen DeGeneres put it in her tweet yesterday:
US forensic artist Joe Mullins has used the latest computer technology to blend the couple’s looks in order to predict what their future offspring will look like, be it a boy or a girl.
The results? As expected, adorable.
Eugene de Kock denied parole
Eugene de Kock was commander of apartheid South Africa’s secret ‘death squad’ in the 1980s, which was responsible for numerous mysterious deaths of political opponents. Yesterday, after 20 years in prison, he was refused parole. In response, Max du Preez, founding editor of anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper Vrye Weekblad, said: ‘I think De Kock should have been granted parole… De Kock, during his hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, played open cards — he was almost the only one — and explained the context and political atmosphere of his actions. He exposed the roles of his political bosses and generals. He helped explain to the police and solve other human rights abuses. He has met with several of his victims’ families and asked for forgiveness.’
None of us really love the term ‘plus-size’ model, especially not when labels like this is given to the likes of Robyn Lawley (a size 12). Yet, the fashion industry is still not budging. The only thing I feel I can do, is to celebrate these beautiful curvy models who bring some diversity to the fashion table.
Here are the top 10 plus-size models dominating the scene at the moment:
Robyn was the first plus-size model to appear in a campaign for Ralph Lauren, and was one of the three models on the cover of June 2011 Vogue Italia Curvy issue. The Australian beauty designed and launched a plus-size swimwear collection.
This fresh-faced beauty has appeared in H&M’s 2012 campaign and was one of the three plus-size women in the June 2011 Vogue Italia Curvy issue.
Ashley Graham is best known for her Lane Bryant lingerie ad. She has appeared in several fashion magazines, was awarded 2012 Plus Model of the Year by Full Figured Fashion Week and was the face of several Levi’s campaigns.
Jennie Runk is the first plus size woman to appear in H&M’s 2013 swimwear catalogue. She has modelled for a number of plus-size retailers, including Marina Rinaldi, and in various fashion magazines.
British model Saffi Karina will be launching the UK’s first ever modelling workshop focused on the plus-size figure. Called The Curve Project London, it will feature photo shoots, hair and make-up sessions, and will mentor girls who want to get into the plus-size industry.
Crystal earned respect from everybody when she switched from her ‘straight-size’ modelling career to plus-size to improve her overall health, after stating that she had suffered from a crippling eating disorder.
Justine LeGault made headlines when she was featured on a popular women’s magazine’s cover last year. ‘The fact that I only got positive feedback on my cover truly makes me happy. It seems people aren’t shocked any more to see my curves.’
Candice Huffine was one of the three women featured in the Vogue Italia June 2011 Curvy issue. After this cover, Candice went on to model in W, V Magazine and German Vogue.
Toccara Jones got her start in modelling when she appeared on the third cycle of America’s Next Top Model. Since then, she’s modelled for Ashley Steward, Avon and Torrid and has appeared in many fashion magazines. In 2010 Toccara was featured in a 14 page spread for Vogue Italia.
Whitney was the first plus-size model to win America’s Next Top Model in cycle 10. She has since made a name for herself by modelling for Target and Covergirl as well as launching her own jewellery and candle collection. She has also spoken at the International Fuller Woman Expo.