I’m a pudge who is too far gone to realistically dream of a day when I can stride confidently into a place like Urban Outfitters and grab a medium or even a large off the rack. It’s all about the gentle widdle down to a less risky weight class, now. Because of this, I’ve learned to accept that I’ll always pay more for my clothes — not because I shop at the finest clothiers, but because of the crippling cost of ALL that extra fabric that is used to turn an XL tee into an XXL one… That’s the tradeoff when cake is your special lady, though.
Well… one of.
I mentioned Urban Outfitters because they’re in the news once again. You remember their faux blood-smeared Kent State sweatshirts back in the fall, yes? Clicky clicky if you don’t.
This time, the controversy du jour has to do with a too-thin model and something called a thigh-gap.
The major U.S. retailer is in hot water (yet again) for photos of an underwear model with a dramatic (and possibly photoshopped) “thigh gap” that was posted to its U.K. website. In response to negative feedback (beginning with an anonymously filed complaint), the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered the brand to remove the image under fire from its website.
Here’s a bit from the ASA’s statement:
“We understood that Urban Outfitters’ target market was young people and considered that using a noticeably underweight model was likely to impress upon that audience that the image was representative of the people who might wear Urban Outfitters’ clothing, and as being something to aspire to. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible.”
That’s a strong statement, but according to E!, Urban Outfitters has said that the model wasn’t underweight and that a look at the Urban Outfitters’ website shows that:
“there are still product photos featuring the same gap, same model and same body representation (one image now just seems to be more cropped).”
I want to jump back to the “something to aspire to” line from the ASA’s statement for a moment because it is sticking with me. Aspiration is part of it, but so is observation. If you’re someone that is average, “healthy”, or simply trying to lose a few pounds, you can be bruised by images that seem to push a hard-to-attain standard of beauty, and those bruises can have a lasting psychological effect.
It’s not just about the effect on people who live to be thin, it’s about the effect on the ones who live with being not thin. Also, it’s not about one company — this is a fetish that has gone viral and the line on what is worthy of a gasp and what is an acceptable definition of healthfulness and beauty in the fashion industry is as disconcertingly thin as some of the models.
With regard to Urban Outfitters, this too shall pass. Five other controversies will flash and burn in the world before tomorrow morning and people will forget this until the next time when it’ll live again as a reference and a hyperlink. Same as a bloody sweatshirt.