Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Ugly Price of Beauty

To become beautiful, women are willing to do anything, I mean EVERYTHING- from extreme diet fads to going under the knife- just to look like a Hollywood star, say Jessica Alba. But do we really know up to what extent the beauty industry will manipulate or photoshop decent pictures to perfection? 

Truth be told, even the most confident and beautiful person still has insecurities. Society has become so judgmental and less tolerable about women's flaws and imperfection. The evidence lies in the rampant use of airbrushing and cropping techniques to make celebrities lose 10 lbs in a magazine cover. It's not totally wrong if only minor retouches are done, but what happens is a total overhaul. We have been groomed over the years to believe that anything far from perfect is ugly.

Wanted: Sticks and Bones 

The fashion industry is very brutal. Designers are very picky in choosing what type of models they want to use for runway shows or editorial campaigns. Sometimes they can be specific- demanding girls with an edgy look, an androgynous feature or a strong walk. But the bottom-line is you have to be size 0 with a 23 inch waist.

What we see on runway shows are the fashion industry's full blown fantasy. Most of the dresses worn on the runway are extravagant, impractical and over-the-top. It's the kind of clothing  that you would not normally see any person wear in real life. And if you happen to see anyone wear it down the street- you'd think of them as crazy and absurd fashion whores.

(image source: here)

The same analogy applies too for stick thin models wearing designer clothes. Being stick thin may be  normal for fashion experts if you are a model, but never will that body type be considered a model for girls and women to emulate in real life.

Fashion has tweaked our mind that a super skinny body is the most desirable. However, common sense tells us that if you are stick thin it means something is wrong with you. It's either you are gravely sick or starving because of impoverished conditions.

(image source: here)

I see the point why basketball players need to be tall, or why jockeys need to be small- that makes their job easier. Models need to be skinny for aesthetic purposes- I get it,  but why allow the unhealthy looking models work when these girls should be placed in a hospital or rehab centres. 
Skinny vs. Super Skinny

In order to compete against many aspiring models, girls resort to extreme measures to lose more weight. Being skinny is not enough because those tiny (size 0) sample clothes must fit you all the time. Gaining 1-2 pounds or just moving 1 size up may jeopardise your chances of being booked.

The pressure of staying thin over a long period of time can make girls develop eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia. Professional models start out as early as 14-16 years old so their bodies are not yet fully developed. But eventually their bodies start to grow, thus, they do whatever it takes to maintain a small frame, and most of the time- they go overboard with dieting.

 Coco Rocha, below, was called 'too fat for the catwalk' 
 ( image source: here)

The Elle Style Awards Model of the Year 2011, Coco Rocha, was labelled last year as too fat to walk the runway at size 4. In response, she opened a can of worms through her tumblr account. She attacked the fashion industry’s obsession with size 0 and questioned the morality behind encouraging young models to lose more weight- when in fact they’re already skinny.  

 (image source: here)

In 2008, this 5’10 beauty was also told that she’s too fat for weighing 108 lbs. And she was advised:
 “You need to lose more weight. The look this year is anorexia. We don't want you to be anorexic but that's what we want you to look like."

Zombies on the Runway

Every girl wants to be a model because you get to wear designer clothes and travel the world. But what upsets me the most is the price young girls are willing to pay in order to reach supermodel status.

Are cocaine, smoking, diet pills and starving the key to fame and fortune? 

What you get quickly will soon vanish before you know it. Sure, healthy eating and working out can take a while before its effect can be noticed, but relying on instant methods will not only destroy one’s body but it will mess up your psyche- crash your self respect.

( image source: here)

Whenever I watch fashion shows all I see are Zombies- minus the blood, but the gore factor is still there! Their hollow face and boney arms speak for themselves: FEED ME! 

Their face is so ghastly and cold- it looks depressing. As a rule of thumb, designers prohibit models to show emotions so the attention goes to the clothes and not the wearer. Well isn’t that quite degrading? It seems that couture clothes are put on a pedestal so high that you have no right to outshine it.

In real life, only the upper class really wear designer clothes because they can afford it. I can't help but notice that the look that most common on rich people’s faces is actually not far with the blank or snobbish expression that models-turned-zombies have. And I want to ask both of them:  “You are lucky, but what’s keeping you miserable?"

Starved to Death 

In recent years, models have died because of complications from eating disorders. A lot of blame has been pointed out to unrealistic body proportions demanded by designers. Since then few groups in the industry have banned skeletal models. But why not make an approach that solves the actual problem? Perhaps increasing the size to a more realistic one, since real women with curves are going to wear it anyway. 

Girls with big dreams have died, I don't know what else will it take for the fashion industry to take accountability and revolutionise the concept of beauty. 

And so here are some models who lost their way and take look closely at the massive transformation after starving themselves:

Ana Carolina Reston

 (image source: here)

(image source: here)
Ana Carolina Reston, 21, died for the most obvious reason- complications from an eating disorder. At her death she weighed 40 kg or 88 lbs at 5’8 tall. Her diet of choice: apple and tomatoes.

 Luisel Ramos 

 (image source: here)

 (image source: here)
Luisel Ramos, 21, died from a heart attack after stepping out of a runway show. Her diet of choice: lettuce leaves and diet coke. Her younger sister, Eliana Ramos, 18, also died a month before her death after suffering from the same condition.

Not One Size Fits All 

There may be standards of beauty sealed by those who call themselves 'experts' but at the end of the day what makes you beautiful is not because you fit into sizes 0-4. What we see on the runway are unrealistic expectations of how a modern woman should look. A real woman knows how to take care of herself- eats a balance diet and exercises regularly. She is empowered to make good decisions. And most of all she would not in any way harm her body just to satisfy other people's perception of beauty.


  1. Both of your "after" photos are photoshopped pictures (see ). Your message might be good, but your research is pretty shoddy here.

  2. Hey a.k.!

    Thank you for adding some light to this very controversial issue. Constructive criticisms are very much appreciated. I don’t think it would hurt to be very meticulous on every detail in my post and that’s something I should improve from now on.

    I checked out the site you mentioned and yeah the original pictures were sort of tweaked for shock factor. For example, the rib cage was not really protruding but nevertheless these models without question are way too skinny.