You may have seen in the news today that Victoria Beckham is in trouble following her SS17 Catwalk Show for New York Fashion Week, for her use of size 4 models. (Size 0). This is something that I feel incredibly passionate about, but before I start with this piece, I just wanted to say that the last thing that I want to do is body shame ANYONE, for being too fat or too thin, and so as I call into question Victoria's hiring abilities, please know that my anger is not directed at the models, it is with this industry.
Last year, as you may remember, she hit headlines following a show, for the hiring of a very skinny model, Peyton Knight, a very young, VERY thin, young woman. Well, despite making hints at an apology, (not really but I'd have liked to think that the backlash might have made her change her ways), she is now back in the news after a stream of women thinner than ever walked in her show.
All day I have been reading tweets, Facebook posts and articles about Victoria and her show. Initially, the general consensus was that these models were too thin and that Victoria Beckham has made another huge mistake, but as the day has worn on, the reactions have changed ever so slightly as people have started to express their sympathy with Victoria and anger at the body shaming comments directed at the models.
The former I can't relate to, but the latter, I understand. They've been thin-shamed-to-shit. (That's my professional view). They're being called 'sticks', the word 'emaciated' is being thrown around a lot and most noticeably they are being accused of having eating disorders, which, let's face it, is hardly the praise that they deserve after working their butts off for one of the most well known designers out there. And regardless of your view on the show, don't think for a minute that they don't deserve praise.
Because this is not their fault. Many of them are naturally this thin (as VB pointed out last year) and many of them have got that way so that landing a job in a show like this one was a possibility. None of them are to be blamed for, nor should any of them be criticised for doing what they have got to do to make a career for themselves.
The fault here, lies solely with Victoria Beckham. (And please know how much it pains me to say that because I hate being rude about any woman, least of all VB, but this has got to be said...)
Following the battering she got last year for hiring Peyton Knight, Victoria said of the models she uses, in an interview that 'they're young, they're thin, but that doesn't mean they're ill. People are mean on social media whoever you are. It's a shame people have to be that way.' Which she was right to say, as Peyton was being abused left right and centre, but if I'm honest, this little speach didn't do much to reassure me that the winds of change were blowing... and that's because sadly, as we know now, they are not. (Even though in 2010 she pledged to follow the Beauty Is Health Campaign...hmm).
The thing is, whilst these models might not necessarily have a problem themselves, (both Victoria and their Instagram accounts FULL of food pictures argue that they don't,) I'm afraid to say that these models ARE causing problems for other people. People who aren't that thin, and who weren't meant to be. By having these models in her show and ONLY these models, Victoria, you are saying a lot.
Yes, we understand that you are not *technically* breaking the rules of fashion by hiring a model with a recognised eating disorder, but to my mind, by hiring only girls of a size 4, you are breaking the rules of role-modelling.
Maybe you don't see it. You are thin naturally, and always have been. You might not look at a woman like the ones in your show and think anything of it. But to those women who WEREN'T born naturally thin? (Of which there are SO many?) What do you think they feel when they see a show like this? Do you think they're going to feel confident in their size 16 bodies? (National average in the UK BTW). When they see a show totally full of people who look nothing like them? When they realise that there is a whole industry which has decided that this is something that they should be aspiring to? Because although you haven't said it in as many words, I promise you, that is the indication.
And as a mother to a young daughter, do you think that this is OK? Or do I have to ask you again in 5 years when Harper is old enough to feel the pressure being put on her by society. By shows like yours?
Urgh. I'm being mean and I didn't want to bring your daughter into it and I'm SORRY, but I can't help it. I am SO worried about this. I can't believe you don't see that what you are doing is problematic, that it's dangerous.
Please Victoria, please, for the love of all that is good, will you do something about this? Will you please please diversify your shows. Show the world that beauty does come in other sizes, sizes that women won't have to kill themselves trying to get to? If you don't do something, if you can't even recognise a problem, then there will be no change, ever. We will continue to go on like this... and surely, you don't/can't want that?
Don't let it be Harper watching your shows in years to come questioning everything about herself because she had ice cream with dinner last night, like so many girls have been doing this morning.