Monday 26 September 2016

I'm sick of the weight debate. Too fat, too thin, love your curves, this diet, that plan, yada, yada, yada. It's boring and I'm bored. So, when asked my opinion of the "unhealthily underweight" model in the latest Yves Saint Laurent ad - which has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK, following a complaint by an

gemma fullam

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

I'm sick of the weight debate. Too fat, too thin, love your curves, this diet, that plan, yada, yada, yada. It's boring and I'm bored. So, when asked my opinion of the "unhealthily underweight" model in the latest Yves Saint Laurent ad - which has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK, following a complaint by an Elle UK reader - I thought: 'Model? Yes. Teenager? Probably. Freakishly tall? Certainly. And she's... thin.' Imagine that. Yawn.

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So, in an unscientific attempt to confirm the validity of my own 'stick-thin model, so what?' opinion on the matter, I asked my other half what he thought of the ad, expecting a comment on the artistic nature of the photography or feigned disappointment at the absence of cleavage to admire (he's a boob man, don't you know).

His actual response, though, was this: "She looks like a victim; a body... like, I wouldn't be surprised if you could see a white chalk line around her.

"It's disturbing. The thinness of her legs...she looks like a sexualised corpse. A junkie that's overdosed... like someone who has collapsed from drugs or alcohol, in a very vulnerable state, in the corner of a room at a party.

"It reminds me of that Lou Reed song, 'grab your old lady by the feet/just lay her out in the darkest street/and by the morning/she's just another hit and run'."

I was taken aback. Partly because of the vehemence of his reaction, but mostly because of the disparity between his aversion to the image and my ennui.

I looked and saw normal. OK, model normal, but normal all the same. And, if I'm truthful, I also saw sexy.

I'd fallen for what, 25 years ago, in her book The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf termed "beauty pornography". Images such as the emaciated, submissive, legs-splayed model in the Yves Saint Laurent ad no longer shock or disturb women because we have become habituated to them; they are subliminal aspirational messages to our sex - be thinner! be sexier! be younger! less hirsute! dress this way! You, lady, as you are, are ugly!

Modern advertising continually tells women what is wrong with them and covertly or overtly implies how they should fix it. And the so-called liberated sisterhood and their daughters - we're the 'having it all' generation, aren't we? - have swallowed this ubiquitous, glossied-up toxicity hook, line and sinker.

The ASA said Yves Saint Laurent "indicated they did not agree... the model was unhealthily thin".

So a fashion house thinks what my other half sees as "a sexualised corpse" is a good image for their brand. Depressingly, I'm a 44-year-old female who also gave it the thumbs up.

In truth, we both need a reality check.

Sunday Independent

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