Friday 9 December 2016

The status symbol of the super-skinny skeleton

The true elite aren't just thin, they're skeletal, says Sarah Caden, and they're not even hiding it

Sarah Caden

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

The intense media scrutiny that comes with being George Clooney’s wife has been blamed for Amal’s thinness, which has only increased since her marriage (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
The intense media scrutiny that comes with being George Clooney’s wife has been blamed for Amal’s thinness, which has only increased since her marriage (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

During her visit to Honduras last week, Queen Letizia of Spain was photographed in the same, sparkling black strapless cocktail dress that she wore to the Woman Awards in Madrid just a month ago. Big deal. Nice to see she's recycling the clothes. So what?

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The 'so what' is that it was the self-same dress that saw the queen make herself the subject of super-skinny attention just a month ago. Her boniness was commented on in Spain, all over Europe and even in America. She was all skin and skeleton and, horribly, some photographs even captured how the zip of the dress dug into the under-padded flesh of her bony back.

Her thinness was not pretty and the attention was not flattering, with its modern-day undercurrent of pity mixed with envy. Look how thin she is, went the underlying message: Isn't it awful? Tell me how she does it, please. There was even a backlash to the commentary, with accusations of 'body-shaming' the 42-year-old former television presenter.

Because it's all body-shaming now, if you examine the whys and hows of a person's shape, fat or thin. Which is mind-boggling, really, in a selfie-mad culture in which people put their bodies up for scrutiny constantly.

Which is what Queen Letizia is doing, essentially, by publicly wearing that bone-baring black dress again. You could say it's a two fingers to the naysayers, but it's more than that. In a world where ordinary people are growing in girth steadily and only going in one direction -, and it's not slimmer - super-skinny has become the ultimate status symbol.

Super-skinny is how you stand apart as a person, no, a woman, of supreme status.

Queen Letizia is wearing that dress again because she's wearing her superiority by putting her skeleton on show.

Seeing someone like her that skinny mentally marries in our heads the willpower required to get that thin with wealth. It makes that degree of thinness something to which no ordinary person can aspire. It makes it the domain of the ultra-elite, and, seems to tell the brain of the ordinary Joe soap that there's no point even trying to get rid of that spare tyre.

We look at the likes of Letizia, it seems, and think that there's no point even trying to replicate these royal levels of skeletal.

She, and other super-skinny power players like her - think Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Amal Clooney - distract from their gauntness with huge hair and skilful make-up. And the rest of us distract ourselves from feelings of inadequacy in a packet of biscuits.

Amal Clooney is a case in point. As Amal Almuddin, before she met and married George Clooney, she had considerable status as a human rights lawyer of renown and something of a heavy-hitter. But there's no professional status that quite matches the way in which we regard movie stars as other-worldly creatures, so all that was to nothing when Amal became Mrs Clooney.

Once Amal became attached to George, she literally shrank. Always tall and slender and well turned-out, by her wedding day she was a slight version of herself, with oversized hair and teeth that suddenly seemed too big in her head.

Heading out to celebrate with family and friends the day after her Italian wedding, Amal wore a white sleeveless top and wide-legged trousers through which her hip bones protruded and her legs seemed non-existent inside the fabric. And a wide-brimmed hat only accentuated the fact that she was swamped like a stick under all that status-screaming style and skinniness.

The intense media scrutiny that comes with being George Clooney's wife has been blamed for Amal's thinness, which has only increased since her marriage. Cameras are pointed at her all the time, therefore she feels pressure to be pencil thin, but it's not like she wasn't thin before. Now she's just super thin. It's like lawyer-thin was one thing, but once you're proper A-list, you have to be Mrs Ultimate Clotheshorse Clooney.

You could say that the woman's under horrible pressure to be super-thin, but to live up to what or whom? Even in Hollywood, there are few enough women as thin as Amal, but, interestingly, the only one to match her for matchstickness is the Tinseltown queen of all she surveys, Angelina.

Further, much like Letizia, if Amal's scrawniness was purely a thing to be pitied, why on earth would she put it so on show? Crop tops, jeans with her hipbones jutting above the waistband, strapless dresses that are all shoulder blades, these are Amal's outfits of choice, outfits that announce her exaggeration fatless-ness.

Of course, Victoria Beckham is the queen of it and, in her own, unsmiling way, she has laid the ground for the super-skinny elite. She has taken the adage that you can't be too rich or too thin to a whole new level. At least Wallis Simpson, who first coined it, was a woman who knew how to have fun. This lot have joylessness in their very visible bones.

The super-skinny undoubtedly feel light-headed with hunger to match their elevated sense of power, while everyone else feels podgy by comparison. And we're all body-shamed as result.

Sunday Independent

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