Image: Chris McGrath/Getty Images.
Research conducted by model agency founder Ben Barry suggests that if fashion used models reflecting a more realistic, less idealistic view of women, more of them would be more inclined to purchase their clothing.
I was so pleased when I read this. As one of a new breed of feminists content to complain about the status quo but not actually do anything about it, I was hoping fashion designers would eventually realise we’re not all 6ft tall, size zero creatures who can subsist quite comfortably on a diet of lettuce and nicotine. Surely, when this news broke, fashionistas would immediately dump those ethereal, inadequacy-perpetuating creatures and start throwing ‘real’ women down those catwalks: the ‘just need to shed that last 7lbs and I’d be perfect’ women, who fight a daily battle with chocolate donuts, and will definitely to make it to the gym later today, pinkie swear.
Like Ben Barry’s research says, more people would buy the clothes. We could all eat more cake. The designers would make an even bigger fortune. Have a huge presence.
No losers there.
Then, while I was just drifting toward the kitchen for a nip on a celebratory muffin, something occurred to me. If I knew this already, most of the women I know knew this, plus many of the commentators I read in lieu of doing any constructive work for the feminist cause knew this, the chances that this research would be the first the fashion industry had heard of it were slim**.
What could this mean? Did they know it but were keeping it a secret? Were they waiting to surprise us with the good news and a lovely glass of wine?
Then I came to my senses. The fashion industry has no particular interest in the needs of ordinary women. Why would we assume it had? The majority of designers are creating art forms for display on the best canvas available, not intentionally generating empathy so more women buy their clothes.
It’s possible that women would be happier about their bodies and have more confidence in themselves if magazines and catwalks broadened their range of models to be more representative. But they’re probably not going to do that.
We should do it ourselves. They’re just models. Ciphers in a work of creative fiction. We’re the real women.