The world of high fashion is draped over a straight silhouette, female models and most noticeably super-models can be defined by their lack of femininity. It’s a stigma that forces young women to purge themselves of themselves in a desperate attempt to stay competitive. The public understands and accepts this as a “natural” evolution of the industry; it’s a battle that nobody wins. Male models on the other hand don’t get the same good or bad publicity that the women command. We know of them, we just don’t know about them. This is why we could all be excused for not concerning ourselves with the fact that male models are getting thinner and nobody seemed to notice.
Jussi Harjunharja is an aspiring young male model and friend which makes him the perfect source for this exposé. Are the men on the runway shrinking, or is it just me?
Oh George!: Do you see a trend in male models, in that they are becoming thinner and thinner?
Jussi: Yes, although high fashion male models have been quite thin for a while...the general public just didn't notice them because they were mostly confined to international runways. But ever since Emo rocker boys revived the vintage thin rockstar look, the same body type now having transitioned into the artsy Andy Warhol Hipster, there has been a shift in North American society's perception of an attractive male from the beefcake male underwear models of the 1990's to the slim/emotional/fashionable men of H&M advertisements.
Oh George!: Do you think that a thinner male model is a better representative of males in general?
Jussi: I don't think people should ever view models as representatives of general bodytypes because models are molded according to everchanging trends of the makebelieve fashion world. However, I believe thinner male models make better representatives of the new metrosexual male simply because slim male models fit designer sample sizes. Gender boundaries are blurring and men are becoming more interested in high fashion so they're looking at male models to sell them more than undergarments and athletic wear.
Oh George!: If there is a trend towards shrinking waistlines for male models, do you think it could lead to the same eating disorders that female models experience?
Jussi: Yes, and it's already happened. Men are becoming more significant in fashion so male models are facing more significant amounts of pressure to be representatives in the makebelieve world of high fashion.
Oh George!: As a model, do you feel pressured to either stay thin or get bigger for shows? If there is a pressure to look a certain way, is it comparable to what female models go through or do male models experience more or less pressure?
Jussi: As a model, I'm constantly being sifted through by people who view me as an object to sell their product, and that's the only purpose of modeling, so it's not worth ruining my life by starving myself and binging to try and get every job that comes by. But yes, the pressure is always there, male or female, to fit various molds so you really have to disconnect from your human self, when dealing with constant rejection from the industry, to prevent it from affecting you negatively.
The concept of men pursuing success by any means shouldn’t be foreign, male models becoming dangerously thin was only the next logical step. Companies have been moving in this direction for quite some time, promoting a look to the masses and selling it in stores using thinner boys. The metrosexual male is a relatively new term that brings with it more then just semi-serious consequences. For the average “metro” it begins with a greater understanding of fashion, for those really in the know, the progression to obsession would mean jumping through the rabbit hole and landing in a fantasy world. That same fantasy world that left almost every women feeling NOT beautiful.
It was a good run while it lasted, I can still remember waking up in the morning and enjoying my reflection like it was yesterday. The average North American male could probably stand to shed a few pounds, but the guys working the catwalk can’t. Young women being stripped of their bodies wasn’t an aberration, it was foreshadowing. The runways will soon be spilling with skeletons barely able to lift the fabric their wearing. Tell someone you know right now “male models on the runway are going to be as skinny as the girls in five years.” And then in five years tell that same person, “I told you so.”