By the time you read this, people of Ealing, the media coverage will no doubt have died down somewhat. However at the time of writing there is much in the press about an outrageous comment made by Karl Lagerfeld and I just can’t let this one pass.
I’m really shocked (though sadly not surprised) by the remark he made when talking about the singer Adele. In an interview in a Paris newspaper he said that the singer was ‘a little too fat’, and as if he realised the faux pas he’d just made, he went on to say: ‘but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice’ – as if that made the former comment acceptable! There was an inevitable uproar from her fans about the comment, including some saying that women should boycott Chanel.
But I think it’s more worrying than just being an insult to Adele herself. It just proves, once again, how badly people in mainstream fashion perceive normal sized women, as opposed to their skeletal models. And disturbingly they still don’t seem to realise how comments like this have such a detrimental effect on women and girls around the world who may be struggling with their own weight issues.
Adele is a beautiful and talented woman who happens not to be a size zero. For Lagerfeld to point this out in his description of her is cheap and insulting. Adele herself hit back at Lagerfeld saying ‘I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.’ Well said Adele. I’m not sure I would have been so polite in the circumstances!
As a wonderful contrast, in the same week I was delighted to see a new TV series from the lovely Gok Wan. This series proved that not everyone working in fashion thinks with designer blinkers like Lagerfeld. Gok’s new series ‘Gok’s Teens: The Naked Truth’ tackles the ever growing problems faced by UK teenagers, including body dysmorphia and eating disorders. This was a humbling and disturbing look at the terrible pressures that young people put themselves under to achieve what they are led to believe is a normal body.
In the first episode Gok took one young girl to a photo-shoot to see for herself how much digital re-touching and manipulation is carried out on fashion magazine photographs. She was shocked and surprised at the scale of the changes made to a shot before it is published. And her huge relief was tangible and deeply moving when she realised that the images that she has spent years fantasising about in magazines, were just that, fantasies. She now accepts her body and has vowed to eat healthily from now on.
I watched the programme with my little girl Molly, who at 10 is already starting to talk about her body and weight issues. I want her to see the kind of extraordinary and dangerous lengths people will go to, to achieve what they perceive to be their ideal weight. We talked about the harmful notion of size zero, which in itself seems to be the start of the road to anorexia, and that as long as you are healthy and happy, then it really doesn’t matter what size you are. I truly hope that she and many other children learn from programmes like Gok’s and don’t ever fall into the same dangerous trap as some of the teens he is helping.
As for Lagerfeld, I don’t need to boycott Chanel because I’ve never bought anything there anyway.
Not only because I can’t afford it, but because I’m a normal, real woman with curves, and I couldn’t fit into his clothes even if I wanted to. And after his recent comment it’s unlikely I ever will want to.
NOTE TO SELF: Real bodies come in all shapes and sizes, so let’s not strive for the impossible.