Both stylish and slender, models have become the epitome of fashion in recent years. But in a world where “thinness” is worshipped, models often struggle with their own standards of beauty, not to mention hectic photoshoots, obtrusive measurements, and extreme diets. Despite this, the ”tyranny of thinness” is still prevalent in the fashion industry – and FRANCE 24 English is here to take a look.
1. The Daunting Impact of Thinness on the Fashion Industry
The fashion industry has long been plagued by the worryingly low bar set for the ‘optimal’ body shape. Women and men alike feel the pressure to fit into the sometimes unattainable ‘ideal’. In today’s world of market growth and boundless access to social media, likeness and comparison have reached dizzying heights.
The message of thinness is conveyed through countless print advertisements and campaigns, laying the foundation for unrealistic expectations to proliferate. It’s becoming harder to escape this narrow image of beauty, thus creating an ever more daunting beauty standard. This onerous ideal is increasingly trapping many conscious consumers in its vise and limiting their power to defy the banal.
- The pressure to fit into an ‘ideal’ shape
- Unrealistic expectations proliferated through messaging
- Escaping the thinness ideal becoming harder
- An onerous beauty standard limiting power to defy
2. Unforgiving Beauty Standards: A Societal Curse?
looks don’t define character
Beauty standards are harmful when they become directly and indirectly institutionalised in society. For instance, our media constantly reinforces a certain type of beauty aesthetic, with models, actors, and influencers that fit this unrealistic expectation. We idolise people who look nothing like us; women and men who sport 6-pack abs, high cheekbones, and hourglass figures. This is damaging, as it sets up a standard that is incredibly difficult to achieve, no matter how much hard work one puts in.
Sadly, this disconnect between reality and appearance has seeped into how we view each other. We begin to judge each other based on our physical attributes, trapping us in the spiral of favourably judged ‘beauty’. We view physical beauty as a boon that must be held, instead of something that can be grown and developed. We fail to recognise the nuances of individual beauty, opting instead for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Ultimately, this deprives us of a more holistic understanding and appreciation of beauty.
- Society often fetishizes a certain type of physical beauty.
- We judge each other based on our physical attributes.
- Individual beauty is rarely appreciated.
3. ‘Tyranny of Thinness’ in the Fashion Industry: Time to Change the Narrative?
The fashion industry has a long history of perpetuating the idea that thinner is better. Models who do not fit into a narrow definition of beauty have been excluded from fashion shows, magazine covers, and campaigns for decades in many parts of the world. This has resulted in a “tyranny of thinness” within the industry, in which thin models are the only ones who are given the spotlight and those who don’t fit that mold are rarely acknowledged.
It’s time to take a hard look at how the fashion industry as a whole is contributing to this damaging mentality and begin to rethink the way beauty is defined. We need to create more inclusive messages where all body types are represented and given the same amount of respect and visibility. We need to steer away from perpetuating the thin ideal and instead celebrate diversity in beauty, size, race, and ethnicity. Furthermore, we need to nurture young people by creating a safe and positive environment to explore self-expression without judgement or comparison.
4. Reforming the Fashion Industry: Choosing Inclusivity over Superficial Standards
In recent years, the fashion industry has begun to focus on inclusivity, taking steps to become reflective of the real-world. While it previously seemed that only certain, often superficial, standards of beauty and perfection were in the spotlight, there is now more of an acceptance of diversity and the beauty of people no matter what their ethnicity, size, or gender may be.
There’s still progress to be made, but the great strides being taken in this regard are beyond encouraging. Companies are showing their support for gender-neutral clothing lines, promoting body diversity, and going beyond euro-centric standards. To be sure, the fashion industry is making its way, slowly but surely, to a place of inclusivity and acceptance in the eyes of the public. To that end, here are some of the ways:
- Recognition of the plus-size movement and the introduction of more diverse clothing sizes to meet the needs of all body sizes.
- Ability to purchase clothing from a variety of colors and ethnicities, reflecting the diversity of what modern society looks like.
- Advocating for the beauty and acceptance of people of color, as well as providing opportunities for both men and women to participate in fashion.
Ending the fashion industry’s current reliance on superficial standards of beauty and perfection is not an overnight project but it is a necessary one in order to make sure everyone feels represented. In turn, this will create a more accepting and positive environment for all, regardless of their differences. As the fashion industry continues to progress and promote inclusivity, it will no doubt have an even greater positive ripple effect in the future.
The ‘tyranny of thinness’ still reigns in the fashion world – for now. But voices are becoming louder in the fight to end these restrictive beauty ideals and create a more diverse and more inclusive fashion industry. If we keep it up, maybe one day the notion of beauty will no longer be confined by clothes-hanger-like figures – and the fashion industry as a whole will benefit from it.