By Hannah Meyer
At a time when we should be urgently working to de-stigmatise sufferers of eating disorders, skinny-shaming has become nothing less than the deliberate mockery of mental illness, writes Hannah Meyer.
For decades, various shades of skinny were the undisputed standard of female perfection. Now, thin women are finding themselves the targets of increasingly cruel and very public edicts to “have some cake”, “get some curves” or “see a psychologist”.
This was the tone taken by the founder of British fashion label Rose and Willard, Heidy Rehamn, in a recent op-ed for the Huffpost, where she outlined the company’s plan to protect their models from the scourge of eating disorders by including a “non-negotiable contractual clause” forcing models to eat a supervised meal during photo shoots, or forfeit their pay.
The idea that you can help a woman in the grips of an eating disorder with one good hearty meal is obviously laughable.
The image of an employer obliging potentially vulnerable young women to endure a public force-feeding session is highly disturbing. Humiliating and dripping with intrusive paternalism, Rose and Willard’s “go eat a cheeseburger” policy has all the ingredients for a supersized serving of skinny-shaming.
Despite their absurd approach, Rose and Willard are correct in acknowledging the ever-shrinking size of fashion’s female stars is of serious concern. The far-reaching and toxic influence the industry’s fetishisation of thin has had on women in the spotlight is well-documented and we do need to talk about it.
We also need to talk about the impact glamorised images of the super skinny have on the women and men who consume them.
Expert opinion has long blamed the media’s glorification of skinny for the consistent upsurge in eating disorders, a fact recently recognised in a bill passed by the French Government to ban models considered to be too thin.
So let’s talk, talking helps. But let’s not mistake that conversation for a right to diagnose all thin women in the public eye with an eating disorder, and let’s certainly not be the kind of bastards who would ridicule them for it.
Keira Knightly and Australian actress Jodi Gordon are among the many celebrity women regularly attacked for being ‘too thin’.
Their images are plastered time and again under “scary skinny” headlines, reeking of faux-concern for the “scrawny bones” and “worryingly thin frames” pronounced as evidence of their eating disorders.
The most recent skinny-shaming of Jodi Gordon has taken place in the wake of her highly publicised divorce.
Though weight loss is a common side-effect for women and men experiencing stress and emotional trauma, this has not stopped the publication of images of Gordon’s “protruding rib cage” and tell-all discussions of her diet and exercise regime.
At a time when we should be urgently working to de-stigmatise sufferers of eating disorders, skinny-shaming has become nothing less than the deliberate mockery of mental illness.
Let’s talk about ‘thin privilege’