A Sizeable Concern

I’ve been AWOL for a while, trying to sort through a few things, but this is a post I have to write. In fact, this is a post that has been a long time coming.

Australian Fashion Week kicked off a few days ago, immediately sending the media into a frenzy, but not over the fashions. Models at fashion legend, Carla Zampatti’s runway show appeared visibly underweight and very unhealthy, including former Australia’s Next Top Model contestant, Cassi Van Den Dungen. Many of the same models then lined up for Alex Perry’s show.

Former Australia’s Next Top Model contestant Cassi Van Den Dungen for Alex Perry. Pic via news.com.au.

Now, I have a number of naturally very slim friends who have faced criticism over their weight, so I’m not about to attack skinny women, but there are extreme differences between being naturally thin and healthy, and being forcefully underweight and unhealthy. These girls have sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, and a sallow, drawn look, even with all their make-up. They look tired, and not at all healthy.

So, my question is, what the hell fashion industry? I get many of these models have just returned from the catwalks of Paris, where they are expected to adhere to French standards of fashion. I get that clothes hang better on women who are on the smaller side of the scale. And I totally get that the better the clothes look, the more people are going to like them. The problem is, it’s hard to pay attention to the clothes when the models are so glaringly unwell. Not to mention the fact that the clothes are wearing the girls, rather than the girls wearing them.

This problem of size goes well beyond the runway. Sizing and fit of clothes has become almost as random and unpredictable as the weather, with even my thinner friends complaining that they are now forced to try on everything, where once they used to simply grab their usual size. I am hardly on the smaller end of the scale at the moment, so I struggle whenever I go shopping, but it’s ridiculous that my wardrobe currently contains sizes fourteen through twenty-two. It makes zero sense that even in the same brand I can be three different sizes, and that’s if I can even find my size, because it seems many companies haven’t figured out that the average Australian is a size sixteen.

And this isn’t just a problem in clothing. My mother bought a pattern the other day, assuming it would be plenty big enough, as she’s a pretty standard size fourteen and the pattern included a size range including a size twenty. However, on measuring herself against the pattern, it turned out that she was equivalent to a size twenty-eight. Twenty-eight! That’s seven sizes larger!

What the hell fashion industry?!

Come on guys! Can we go back to the days of Elle Macpherson and Cindy Crawford, when models were fit and sexy, rather than skeletal and wan? Is it really so hard to make the samples a couple inches larger? Why are we allowing this dangerous culture of super-skinny to be okay, just because it’s accepted elsewhere? If Australia can be responsible for making the mini-skirt trendy, why can’t we be the leaders in creating a more standardised, women-friendly industry? Right now, it seems like the fashion industry is ignoring the needs of the many, for the delight of the few. In fact, maybe that has something to do with why so many of Australia’s high fashion brands are going under. After all, if women don’t feel good in something, they’re hardly going to want to buy it—and no girl feels good buying a larger size.

What do you think? Is the fashion industry not listening to the needs of its consumers?