Why does the fashion industry hate real women
We all knew this was waiting to happen, didn’t we Not content with using ever-younger models who are clearly freaks of nature, the fashion industry has now done what it always wanted to do, deep, deep down: replaced real women, with their accompanying tears, needs, salaries, period pains, and, I don’t know, humanity, with something computer-generated.
High Street fashion chain H&M has admitted the swimwear models featured in its latest online catalogue are not real. ‘We take pictures of the clothes on a doll that stands in the shop, and then create the human appearance with a program on [a] computer . . . The message is clear: buy our clothes, not our models.’
It took a Swedish website to notice the poses and contours in each photo were identical and blow the whistle.
Fakes: H&M has admitted using the bodies of mannequins in its latest bikini adverts, claiming that the message is clear – buy our clothes, not our models
Which is telling, isn’t it Until then, the fact each body was of a uniform size, with no extraneous curves, no tiny flaw, was not enough to tip off even the most beady-eyed of observers around the world that these bodies, with their stuck-on, gurning heads, were not, in fact, God-given.
Because, over the past three decades, we have been brainwashed to accept perfection as the new reality. Cellulite, moles, a bit of a wobble here and there, a curve, a swelling of flesh at the top of thighs or even the curve of a tummy have no place on display in the fashion and beauty world.
I grew up believing models were perfect, and that I did not measure up to them, resulting in a lifetime of self-flagellation.
Only when I started working in the fashion industry did I learn that even these strange, young, other-worldly beings were not all they seemed.
I sat in the front row at a fashion show for the first time, and noticed with shock that Erin O’Connor had thread veins, Kate Moss had short legs and cellulite, and magazine cover star Angela Lindvall had bad acne.
Shocked: Liz Jones says she wants to know why the flaws that make women who they really are are erased before they meet the gaze of a woman on the street
On a shoot with the then very young Brazilian model Fernanda Tavares — now modelling the M&S Per Una range — I was shocked to notice that she had badly dyed hair, with her roots showing.
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Doctored: While the bodies have been computer enhanced, it would not be a shock if the models” faces had also been airbrushed and tweaked
In 2000, my art department at Marie Claire were able to move Renee Zellweger’s head and place it on a different body. We did this because the actress’s real body was far too thin and bony to make it onto a cover to promote the first Bridget Jones film. As soon as the movie was completed, Zellweger frantically dieted to lose the weight she had gained for the part, as quickly as possible, developing jutting bones and hair so thin that the lights of the studio bounced off her scalp. But far from our readers being able to spot the difference, no one ever even knew.
What was shocking, too, was that I did this act of subterfuge, albeit it in the reverse way to normal (fancy making an actress look less emaciated!) even though my own life had been ruined by such sleights of hand.
I would never get naked in my teens, 20s or 30s in front of a man, as I had no idea other women had cellulite, and thread veins, until I actually got to produce photographs for publication myself and saw how they were touched up. In my 20s, I experimented with strange eye drops, as I thought women should have the perfect bluey ‘whites’ to their eyes, as seen on the covers of magazines. I had no idea they would have been enhanced on screen by a nerd.
I was recently interviewed by a young male journalist for the new Industrie magazine, as I’ve been chosen as one of the 30 most influential people in fashion in the world.
He asked me why, over the years, I have become more and more anti-fashion, more and more vitriolic. I replied that as I have learned more about its artifice, and found out just how it ignores the needs of its customers, despite the pressure from me, the Government and even the editor of British Vogue, I have become more disappointed.
I told him I’m on the brink of no longer having the strength to fight these people. So, why don’t I let this latest assault on our intelligence, pockets and wellbeing slide It is just another piece of wizardry, after all.
Nothing has changed: Lynne Featherstone promised legislation last February, but the H&M models prove that nobody in the fashion industry paid any notice to her at all
Yet let’s not forget that H&M’s customers are young, impressionable and riddled with self-doubt. They will each be trying to find their identity.
This latest scandal comes on the back of the store’s new collection of clothes inspired by the film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: the look the clothes promote is grungy, super-slim and drug-addled.
Magazine editors may think these young girls know the difference between fantasy and reality, but the truth is they just look grown-up and all-knowing.
I wish they could see some of the letters I receive each week from children, telling me how they feel they don’t fit in, that they will never measure up to these images.
Take this missive I received last week from a young black girl in Bradford: ‘My skin is darker at my elbows, knees and in the creases below my buttocks. Can you tell me how Kelly Rowland avoids this, and how to get her hair’
Now, I can tell these girls about Kelly’s wigs and her hours in make-up, as I did in this newspaper on Monday. I can bang on, as I have for years, about what goes on behind the scenes at fashion shows and on photo shoots.
But still nothing has changed! Back in February, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone promised legislation would be brought to bear on the fashion industry to promote transparency and responsibility.
That month, I wrote in these pages that she was ‘naive if she thinks anyone in Milan or Paris will listen to her’.
Having pored over these latest images from H&M, it seems no one paid her any attention at all.