On Facebook today two interesting conversations happened at the same time. One was a post about a clothing company’s catalogue which now features real models without any photoshop cheating, and another was a woman’s realization that she is treated better by strangers after losing a lot of weight.

Both seem to fall back onto a single misguided idea that all people should be treated equally, that they should all be included and made to feel like equals. And to this I must say ‘bullshit’.

From the first article:

They could have truly, in their own words, “broken the mold,” and committed to featuring […] large women, short women, tall women, transwomen, hirsute women, women with acne and vitiligo, women with disabilities, women with different-sized breasts, women who are pregnant or have recently given birth and so on.

This sounds so much like the rallying cry of someone who won the battle and doesn’t know where to direct their anger next. They have convinced the advertisers that all this photoshop fakery created an unhealthy idea of beauty, so they’ve eliminated the un-real people, and the naturally attractive are next.

They’re actually upset that some people are prettier than others, or that the less attractive aren’t used to sell clothing. So they’ve made the next battle one against the people lucky enough to be born pretty, or the ones who are working out and eating right. Which brings us to the second article:

[…]I couldn’t really blame the folks who reached out to me with kindness. It was not their fault that society has so deeply indoctrinated them with the notion that thin equals friend, and fat equals nothing.

Now this is just lazy thinking. Society doesn’t equate fat with nothing, society rewards hard work. Being beautiful doesn’t just happen any more than being an olympic athlete does. Your good luck at birth will give you a head start, but it’s hard work and dedication that determine your success or failure.

I am against the idea of rewarding failure in the same way I’m against hiring the unqualified mechanic to fix my car, or the lazy student with bad grades to engineer my office tower. You work hard, you get rewarded. You give up, you eat yourself into an unhealthy sphere, and you get penalized. Being fat is a choice, like smoking or drugs or tattoos. Some people will penalize you for it, and it’s not because they were indoctrinated, it’s because you gave up, gave in, caved to your wants and desires, and now you’re paying the price.

That’s how it should be.

by Caspian - January 23,2014 | 07:06 AM | Link

With the first article I don’t think it has to do with going after the naturally pretty, it has to do with the clothes being advertised will be worn by all those different types of people and we as consumers would like to see what they’re going to look like on us rather than a tiny sized model. The majority of people do not have a model figure and it isn’t always because they ‘gave up’ and ate too much. some women have hips, some women have giant boobs and no other curves, some women have man shoulders.

I also understand from an advertising point of view that showing your clothes on unattractive people will make the clothes less attractive and people are less likely to buy them but models are not representative of the population at large.

I hate that clothes are designed to fit that models proportions so finding something flattering for different body shapes or that even fits is an impossible task.

by NFG - January 23,2014 | 07:40 AM | Link

Caspian: You’re right, of course, but it doesn’t matter who you are or what you want to buy, you’re gonna experience frustration. I wear a size 14 shoe – I don’t look for something I like, I ask the guy to bring me everything in my size. That works out to be about three boxes in most stores, and I buy from what fits. I’m tall, and broad shouldered. I have large legs. I can’t get long pants that aren’t built for obese people, and pants that fit my waist can’t be pulled over my muscles.

There’s nothing I can do to solve these problems in a catalogue, and I do not give a half shit about whether the guy modeling a shoe I can’t wear looks like me or not. When we buy clothes we try them on. Do you think the catalogue models looking like us will change that?

Models are not representative of the population. Neither are short people. Or large breasted people. But there’s one thing that’s statistically likely to be agreed upon – pretty people. You can’t fit every kind of person into a catalogue, so I’m perfectly fine when we include only the ones that conform most to our standard of beauty. The alternative is mannequins, innit?

by Wyatt - January 23,2014 | 14:31 PM | Link

“…they’ve eliminated the un-real people, and the naturally attractive are next.”

I think you’re begging the question here. The argument is that there’s more to women than “white and below size 8”. Would you be saying this if it were written as “black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and so on” instead? Doesn’t that sound preposterous?

Frankly, I think your implicit assertion that none of the classes of people named could be every bit as attractive and salable as the Twiggy/Monroe hybrids we commonly see today is really strange.

“But there’s one thing that’s statistically likely to be agreed upon – pretty people.”

Is it, now? Never mind that it’s been engineered by advertisers since the 1950s to be the way it is. These things adjust slightly for broader trends (as we’re seeing in the first article), but it’s largely manufactured, and has led to a substantial decline in perception of body image across a broad population (men and women). Thank Hollywood.

by NFG - January 23,2014 | 21:38 PM | Link

That may have been the argument, but the examples were over the top. I do think the hairy, disabled and acne-burdened are less attractive than the white size eights, I’m not sure this is really your point (nor, I’m sure, do you really believe it was mine). But that’s what the article called for.

But yeah, I think I’m accurate when I say that people will prefer a catalogue of people matching the societal beauty norm in a statistically significant way.

If you’re going to keep surprising your audience with different looking people, wheelchairs and bad skin your readers are going to stop looking at the clothes. As far as I can tell, an endless display of beautiful happy similar-looking people swiftly becomes invisible and the clothes become all that changes from page to page. Which seems to be important.

I think if we’re going to make a positive change in society we should start by changing whatever it is that makes women feel inferior in these cases. I’m not even sure most of them do, it may be be a troublemaking or over-sensitive minority making all the noise, but I would love some actual knowledge on this point, ’cause my view is probably wildly inaccurate.

(I asked my wife if she feels bad when she sees more attractive white girls in a catalogue, and she laughed dismissively.)

But I don’t look at a catalogue and see attractive young men advertising clothes that don’t fit me and get upset about it. Why do women? That’s a problem worth fixing (if it does actually exist).

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