Published on The Daily Femme – Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Contributed by Annamarya
Topshop recently pulled an image of 18-year-old model Codie Young (above) from its website’s landing page after the Daily Mail and anti-eating disorder groups blasted the British fashion retailer this weekend for featuring a “painfully thin size-zero model…with a gaunt face…wearing tiny clothes that hang off her skeletal frame.” Helen Davies of Beat, a UK-based eating disorder charity, called images of models looking allegedly unhealthily thin “damaging” and told the Mail: “For girls to see pictures of models who are this thin suggests that it’s OK to be like that but it’s clearly not…It’s a constant battle against eating disorders and Topshop is not helping matters.”
Topshop’s publicity head, Andrew Leahy, has since responded, telling the Mailthat, while confident Young is a “healthy young woman,” the company does recognize that the shot was poor, exaggerating the proportions of her neck and head, according to the Huffington Post. Additionally, says Leahy, the clothing on Young, who is a size UK 8 (or US O), is a sample size UK 10, which can sometimes look “looser than normal.” It was since replaced with another image of the young model:
According to HuffPo, Young posted on her blog that she was hurt by comments suggesting she is anorexic and unhealthy since she regards herself as the opposite–a “naturally skinny” girl (her parents are both thin, and relatives on her father’s side are typically tall and skinny, she says) who enjoys food. She writes:
“For someone like Ms Davies to say its [sic] not okay for me to be this thin (which is how I was created) basicly [sic] says its not okay for me to be who I am! I am very happy with my body and how I look because its apart of who I am! Throughout my entire childhood I was called anorexic and people would ask if I was bulimic. And it was really hard sometimes for me to deal with as I have always been this way…
There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know [sic] one says anything to them because you don’t want to affend [sic] them! Just because someone eats a lot doesn’t make them healthy. Just like not eating anything doesnt make you healthy. And funny enough saying I’m anorexic affends [sic] me just as being called obese affends [sic] overweight people, but the differences is that im not anorexic!”
While I am always pleased when companies are held accountable for publishing images that promote unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty, I can’t help but side with Young. It’s one thing to reprimand a company forphotoshopping images to death but another to reprimand a person for their weight and body type without knowing their medical history, eating habits, and lifestyle. If anything, the criticism should have focused more on the fact that the shot was terribly executed and wholly unflattering. It morphed Young into a type of gangly, unearthly creature that, if you did a quick photo search, you can see she clearly isn’t. It’s poor, amateur photography and I’m not sure how that was missed.
As a side note, I am not sure where it is that Young lives where overweight & obese people aren’t criticized but I would love to live there. In my world of fatness, I can offer plenty of stories of size discrimination, harassment and bullying. Every weight loss pill and exercise ad tells us we’re not good enough because we’re big. Every weight loss show and derogatory comment from high-end designers lets us know we will never be good enough because we’re big. Every “Hey, fat ass!,” “You’re gross,” and “You’re a disgusting piece of trash costing our healthcare system money,” tells us we should just crawl under a rock and hide away because we’re big. More importantly, assuming all we do as overweight people is shove our faces with any type of food or that we’re automatically unhealthy without knowing our medical history, eating habits and lifestyle, as Young cleverly insinuated, is just as ignorant, discriminatory, and offensive as anyone calling a thin woman dangerously anorexic without cause.