In its short history, Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book has made a point of casting plus-size model Candice Huffine in high fashion shoots and likes to highlight models with imperfections on its cover. That is perhaps why fans were so shocked by a photo on the magazine’s Instagram account, celebrating the “First official day of summer.”
Immediately, commenters began to register their disbelief that the magazine would promote a photo of a girl whose legs are noticeably thin.
“Emaciation isn’t something that should be promoted,” enrgyboost wrote. “Naturally thin is fine…. but no one legs should be that thin on the inside.”
Added the_alexandra_p, “My first thought was of a documentary I watched a couple weeks ago about the nazi death camps….completely unnatural and skeletal.”
Certainly, the fashion industry has been taken to task for its use of excessively thin models and mannequins. After the anorexia-related death of model Isabelle Caro in 2007, some began to change their ways. In France, a ban on models with a BMI of less than 18 (passed in 2015) just went into effect this year. Italy, Israel and Spain have similar laws. Though there’s no such ban in the United States, the CDFA released guidelines in January encouraging designers to be aware of models’ health and advising them on signs of an eating disorder. When all else fails, the online body positive community has been vigilant in its efforts to curb the use of images that may inspire eating disorders in viewers.
But most of the complaints about this CR Fashion Book post do not take into account the fact that it is in fact a regram of a post from model Grace Hartzel, who captured her personal pic, “Proud 2 b a spider legs.” It looks like she was making a body-positive statement of her own that has been turned on its head.
When Hartzel gained fame as a high-fashion model in 2013, the then-teen from Indiana told the Indy Star (as quoted by Radar Online) that she was often teased for her body growing up. “I’ve always been the tall, skinny weird girl,” she said. “People are mean. . . . I remember going on spring break my freshman year (to Siesta Key, Fla.) and there were girls from somewhere in Indiana. They were calling me anorexic. It’s been happening my entire life.”
In that same interview, Hartzel’s mother, Kimberly, told the paper that her daughter eats healthy foods and is genetically predisposed to be tall and thin like her parents.
Does that then turn the outcry over CR Fashion post into skinny shaming?
“We shouldn’t put down the girl in this picture’s body,” wrote tayhalle on CR Fashion‘s Instagram. “We don’t know what her life is like or eating habits are. What the focus needs to be on is the message this magazine is sending to women by posting a picture like this to celebrate the first day of summer. This is a prime example of why girls develop eating disorders, because widely-read publications like this focus on skinny and not what a normal body should look like.”
The bottom line is, it’s not okay to comment on status of someone else’s body, but it is okay to hold a publication, retailer, or designer to account for the messages they send, whether consciously or not.
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