Britain’s Next Top Model: The Elephant In The Room

So, the new series of Britain’s Next Top Model starts tonight on Living TV and, whilst newly appointed queen-bee Elle Macpherson has been getting all the glory promo-wise,  it’s new judge Julien Macdonald who has been stealing the headlines. Back in June the designer-cum-cutting critic told The Wales on Sunday:

You can’t have a plus-size girl winning – it makes it a joke. It’s not fair on them – you’re setting them up for a fall. They are looked down on, they’re frowned upon. A catwalk model is a size six to eight. If you’re a size 14 in a room full of size eights, you’re in the wrong room.

Apparently, out of the final 25 hopeful finalists that will grace our screens tonight, not one is a ‘plus’ size model – something which really surprised and disappointed me after all the talk of a new appreciation for fuller-figured women in the fashion industry; Take French Elle’s Special Rondes, V Magazine’s Size Issue, Crystal Renn’s amazing autobiography Hungry, and all the great work that the All Walks Beyond The Catwalk organisation is doing… to name but a few!

It makes you wonder what’s up with us here in the UK when America’s Next Top Model has already had a plus size winner, Whitney Thompson (an American size 12/British size 16), back in 2008. It’s sad to say, but it seems BNTM series 6 will be a wasted opportunity to show that larger girls can become top models too.

More to read:

Laurie Penny calls the show a cultural car-crash in The New Statesman

Polly Vernon on how Thin is increasingly ‘In’ for Men too over at The Guardian.

By: Sarah Barnes, 05.07.2010 | Comments (0)
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eveRy body counts!

Okay, so you lot may not be quite as excited to see this as I was… but, nevertheless, I thought I’d show you the snapshot taken of me at London Fashion Week by the people at All Walks Beyond The Catwalk. I wrote about the campaign, which seeks to diversify the shapes, sizes, ages and races of models in the fashion industry, here soon after I had my picture taken – but the pics have only just been published, which gives me a great excuse to bring up the work of All Walks once more!

Posing the question “Does current fashion imagery reflect individuality?”, the All Walks team set up a make-shift studio in Freemason’s Hall to capture a true collection of stylish individuals. The result is a lovely set of expressive and fun images that delivers a pretty clear answer of, ‘No, this is individuality’ – as well as showing just how many people support the idea of diversifying the modelling industry. See the images here and here.

This blog post is brought to you by the letter ‘R’!

By: Sarah Barnes, 13.04.2010 | Comments (0)
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Growing Old Glamorously

Currently, when I’m not being a feminist*, I fill up my days working at an online fashion magazine. During these fashionable days I trawl through many, many, many fashion blogs (searching for, um, ‘Now-ness’ or something like that)… but not many are quite as thought provoking as one I was pointed to today.

Found via modelling and diversity campaign All Walks Beyond The Catwalk (who had discovered it on The Telegraph), the blog in question is called Advanced Style. A compendium of ‘Straight-Up’ style street portraits by Ari Seth Cohen, the defining difference is that these images are of women and men in the over-60 age bracket.

What I love about this blog is that it presents the older generations in a way that we never usually see them in other media; distinguished, vibrant, intelligent, interesting and vital. Ari generously allots each person with their own independent post, taking his time to talk through their encounter – illuminating us with the name, age and often fascinating back story of the the subject.

That’s pretty refreshing in a blogosphere which is full of snap-and-run photographers (who wouldn’t have loved a little personal background on this controversial street style pic?), but it’s especially refreshing in a media-scape that so very rarely focusses on older people at all.

Okay, so it’s not like it’s on a par with the work that organisations like Help Age International are doing, but it’s certainly a nice little step in the right direction!

*Don’t worry sisters, I never switch off!

By: Sarah Barnes, 08.04.2010 | Comments (2)
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All Walks Beyond The Catwalk at London Fashion Week

Running around London Fashion Week last week there were plenty of fantastic collections to write up (something I’ve been doing here)… but very little in the way of feminist happenings to report on. That was until I bumped into the All Walks Beyond the Catwalk campaign in the Vauxhall Fashion Scout venue at the opulent (and slightly creepy) Freemason’s Hall. In a little make-shift photography studio the All Walks team were snapping away at willing participants, each holding a letter that would later spell out ‘Every Body Counts’. (more…)

By: Sarah Barnes, 01.03.2010 | Comments (1)
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