Sunday, March 01, 2009

six feet tall. twenty-eight inch waist. male

Are today’s androgynous trends setting an unhealthy standard for male models, or is the shrinking size of the male model lighting the path for androgynous fashions?

With spring fashion weeks taking place all over the world fashion connoisseurs are sitting on the edges of their seats to see what treats their favourite designers will be offering them in terms of trends. In the past few years we have witnessed the growing trend of androgyny among ladies and men’s fashions as well as male and female models. Hedi Slimane can be said to have pioneered the skinny male model revolution. Once he joined the Dior Homme team he began to promote the stick thin figure among male models, and the clothing was made correspondingly. This was something new and different, and after some time suits designed for the more muscular male models began to look boxy and frumpy in comparison. This can be viewed as the turning point in the physical structure for the male model.
Though the current trend among male models is controversial, it took years for anyone to do anything about the staggeringly thin females. It wasn’t until the year 2008 that the Council of Fashion Designers of America called a conference to discuss the issue, and this was right around the time that the skinniest of the male models began strutting their stuff on catwalks around the world.
Though the models of today’s fashion industry tend to lead extremely glamorous and exciting lives, one has to take into account what they are actually in the industry for. They are simply the bodies of a fashion show meant to showcase the clothing. The type of model chosen to show off the work of fashion designers is meant to showcase the trends.
As all of us are painfully aware, not every trend is made for every person and the trend of today is that of androgyny. We are seeing skin-tight jeans on both ladies and men. We are seeing over sized plaids on men and women. Clothing companies that specialize in unisex clothing such as Cheap Monday have spiked in popularity. Doesn’t it make sense for the men to have similar body types to their female counterparts, totally based on the fact that they are supposed to be showcasing fashions made for both the woman and the man?
Due to the glamorization of being a model through reality television shows such as “America’s Next Top Model” people are taking an almost unhealthy interest in the physical appearance of models, when what we should really be watching is the fashions they are wearing. Right now, the message that designers are trying to send us is that ‘androgyny is in.’ We’re not meant to think too much into it, we’re supposed to wear it as best we can, and call it a day. We’re not mean to become obsessed with the models wearing the clothes. Though many criticize the shrinking frames of male models, couldn’t this also be viewed as the skinny boy’s time to shine?
On the other hand, 10 straight women were asked their thought on skinny male models. When asked what their ideal male counter part would look like, 9 out of 10 said that they would prefer someone of an athletic build who was in shape, but not considered “skinny”. The same 9 out of 10 women also said that they would prefer it if their male counterpart was larger than them. This goes to show that although the fashion industry may be promoting one look, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with how people feel about physical beauty.
Another issue to investigate is that along with the skinny male model comes a spike in male eating disorders. When eating disorders first came to the public eye, they were viewed as something that usually only affected women. Now many men have come out of the closet, so to speak, claiming that they too are have fallen victim to the pressures of being thin.
Though some male athletes have said that the pressure to be in peak condition is something that spiked an eating disorders among them, many male models have been instructed to drop muscle and appear “leaner”. There are only so many ways to do this, and the most obvious is to cut the intake of your calories, and up the amount that you burn. Its simply science, but also, this can develop into a potentially fatal physiological disorders such as anorexia, or bulimia.
These disorders have been flagging women for decades, and there have been notable incidents where female models have actually died from them. It is a societal obligation for us to do everything in our power to make sure that our male models don’t walk down the same path.
Throughout the history of fashion, the appearance of models has been something that has fascinated us, and has given some an ideal to struggle for, but its always been something out of the ordinary. Weather it was a tanned beefcake who looks like he lives at the gym, or it’s a waiflike man who stands at 6ft and has a 28 inch waist seems to depend on the current fashion trends.

No comments: