Politics & Policy

Viva España!

The real skinny.

The regional government of Madrid, which cosponsors the city’s upcoming fashion week, has banned models who are too skinny from appearing on the runway.

Working with a Spanish health organization, government officials developed a minimum height-weight ratio for models to participate in the fashion shows.

The Association of Fashion Designers of Spain agreed to the guidelines and turned away 30 percent of the models.

A recent bridal gown show in Madrid turned away models who wore less than a U.S. size 8.

I’ve been in boutiques where they made size 8 feel like a porker and where size 12’s weren’t even allowed in the store.

Once before I die, I’d like to put on a pair of size-10 pants again, but for now, I’m holding at 12. And, as a 12 I say, hats off to Spain for blazing a trail.

I took my daughter and two friends to the beach for a couple of days, along with her three little brothers and no other adults. Besides saying what an error it was to take six kids to the beach, because that’s another story, I’ll say that I overheard the girls talking about their thighs as “huge” when they are all long and lean.

Luckily, they swam in the ocean and in the pool and played TV tag and climbed trees and made up dances. And never passed up ice cream, fries, or doughnuts.

If they continue to be active and healthy and keep junk food as treats or vacation indulgences, they will be okay. But if they continue to see ghastly skinny girls on the runways as the image of feminine perfection, it will warp the great place they are in now.

When I was an editor at Seventeen magazine in the 80s, a photographer called a 15 year old model “a cow.” She was an athletic-looking girl, kind of like Katharine McPhee on American Idol who looked great to me but was criticized for being a few pounds overweight. Turned out she was bulimic so I’m sure those comments were devastating to her.

When I was 15, I was in Seventeen once as a “real girl” model. They came around to New York City schools and picked girls to wear back-to-school fashion. They did a spread with girls with long, long braids and my waist-length hair helped me land that gig. I remember the clothes were too tight and the shoes (size 8 on my size 10 feet) were torture. (My mother was always telling me, “Jackie Onassis wears size 10, so it’s actually very chic.”)

My mom reluctantly let me go to a modeling agency when I was a senior in high school and they told me right off the bat to lose 15 pounds. That was that. My mom made me a big dinner of meat and potatoes, muttered something about “what do they know…”, and told me to eat every bite.

I was never to be a waif but had a happy, healthy, active adolescence.

Haute couture has always called for a slim figure on which to drape the clothes, but the look has always been nearly impossible to achieve. The most famous skinny model of this era, Kate Moss, has fought a public battle with drugs like heroin so we can stop wondering how she stayed so thin.

Never a drug addict myself, I am still not proud that I was at my skinniest when I lived on Tab and cigarettes as a young woman. I was not healthy at all. I had chronic conditions like strep and bronchitis and anemia.

Now, after four babies, I am not skinny but have a lot of muscle from carrying my 25-pound, 16-month old and I feel great. My husband consistently calls me a “big, Irish woman” but he says it with love (and a little fear).

If young girls actually see normal-looking women in fashion magazines and on the runways, it would sure help us moms who are trying to raise happy, healthy. secure young women. I hope Spain is starting a trend.

Pass the paella.

Susan Konig, a journalist, is author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My Children).

Susan Konig is a journalist who writes frequently for National Review. She is the author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My ...


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