Jean-Paul Gaultier – Friend to big girls? I don’t buy it!
Jean-Paul Gaultier recently used a plus sized model in his Paris runway show. Velvet D'Amour, an American - Paris based actress and model, took the runway in an apparent statement about the Spanish ban on anorexic looking fashion models.
D'Amour was quoted as saying "Diversity is what is important. Whether you are saying a model is too fat or too skinny, it's still wrong." D'Amour, regrettably, seems to be missing the point.
To put skinny discrimination and fat discrimination in the same category does a disservice to people all over the world who deal with this issue daily. YES, occasionally a thin person is accused of having an eating disorder but generally, thin people are the ideal and are depicted in all media as normal and happy, while fat people are laughed at, scorned and made to feel invisible. Skinny people in general, as I am sure Velvet knows firsthand, are not ridiculed and debased, discriminated against and openly joked about in the workplace and in the world.
Although Gaultier may have used her once, to emphasize his outsider status, she was merely a punctuation mark to make an insider joke. Gaultier, who is most famous for the corset bra he designed for Madonna, has only used a large-sized model once every decade; maybe. He does not have a plus-sized line of fashion, or any plans to initiate one. Although large sized women comprise more than 75% of the fashion buyers in the United States, I doubt you will see a sudden trend towards inclusion of large-sized women in the fashion industry.
I have recently learned that D'Amour has been invited before to model during Parisien designer week, once for Galliano and now JPG. Unfortunately, she will likely not be invited back. Although she is beautiful and courageous for taking the runway in front of so many thin worshippers, she was a pawn in a game of sizist fashion politics. Jean-Paul Gaultier is simply part of the problem. He doesn't really care about large sized women or our invisibility in the fashion world. If he truly did care, he wouldn't have used a fat girl to make a negligible point. He would launch his own large sized fashion line in an attempt to include us in the dialogue, and put his heart and money where his mouth is.
The fact that other designers have finally decided to take notice and limit some of the unhealthy, anorexic, bone thin fashion models on the runway is a step in the right direction towards changing cultural attitudes about body type. I wonder if she used her ample opportunity with Gaultier to encourage him to start a large sized line that included her and her plus size sisters? He certainly has the clout and power to make major changes in the fashion world, but instead seems content to make provocative statements while doing nothing to change the status quo.
Lets face it; most of the time, no one is complaining when someone is too thin and wears a bikini at the beach. But when a fat girl does it, the public scorn is almost palpable. I have had girls laugh right in front of me when I walked into the public restroom. "Oh my God! Did you see what she was wearing?" they pronounced loudly from the stall next to me. (Suddenly because I am fat, I must be deaf too!) These same girls are kissing my fat ass after my show is over and gushing over the music as they buy cds in an insincere attempt at redemption. I have had teenage boys yell at me from passing cars, as I ride my bike down Pacific Coast Highway. "Its not gonna work, Fatty!!" they proclaim as I ride red-faced to my destination, pretending not to hear them.
At the same time, I have had fans who struggle with anorexia and bulimia cry as they tell me that my song "The Toughest Girl Alive," or "Big Fat Mama's are back in style" has changed their life and their attitudes about themselves.
The fashion industry's insistence on cramming ultra-thin models down the hungry collective throat of the world is a dangerous practice. Teenage girls grow up feeling inadequate and loathing their own bodies. Eating disorders are at an all time high. Some young girls have even resorted to suicide because they felt so ugly and fat. The fashion industry should wake up and smell the sweet n'low in their coffee and be accountable for the sickening trend they have perpetuated. People will still buy haute couture and prêt a porter fashion if its modeled by average, curvy and dare I say, fat women. In fact, I believe the high brow fashion designers will sell even more product when they market their wares to the majority of us who have imperfect bodies, instead of the anorexic few.
Jean- Paul Gaultier- a friend to fat girls? I don't buy it. Not only because it is insincere but because it doesn't even come in my size.