The news that the coalition government wish to pressure the fashion industry to use realistic sized models and to kitemark images where airbrushing has taken place, has taken the industry by the scruff of its very skinny neck.
Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem Equalities Minister, has been leading the charge to challenge the fashion industry to change its attitude and norms. Featherstone has long been outspoken about the size zero issue and feels that there is a literal misrepresentation of the human form, that is highly damaging to impressionable young minds.
When it comes to selling a product, if advertising is misleading, there are regulations to police it, like in the case of the Maybelline mascara ads. Since it came to light that the extra long eyelashes were not due to the mascara, the company were forced to add a disclaimer admitting to the digital enhancement. However, when you are being sold a dream and it is a case of a model’s body being adjusted, where do you draw, or should I say airbrush the line?
Lynne would like to see kitemarks indicating where airbrushing has taken place. The theory is honourable, but how would it work in practice? Literally every fashion image you see has been doctored; some a little and some a lot. Who is to say what is acceptable? Who would decide that it is not alright to change a dress size but airbrushing out spots is allowed, for example? Would there need to be kitemarks over every part of the body that has been adjusted, so as to let young minds know, her hair was her own, but her thighs were thinned down?
The reality is that fashion sells a dream. People don’t want to see imperfections, they want to be inspired and to aspire to a fantasy, which by its very definition, is not real. To change the notion of perfection, one would have to change the ideals of beauty ingrained into our psyche, which starts at the beginning of the fashion food chain. The high-end designers would need to make their samples in bigger sizes, which means that the models wearing them in magazines could also be bigger. Until they do this nothing will change.
What do you think about this debate, is Lynne’s campaign doomed?