'Just Being A Woman' | Isabelle Caro Sought Control of Her Body

Isabelle Caro’s death will inspire a lot of talk about anorexia and body image. Most people will blame the fashion industry, when the discussion just isn’t that simple. (Read my Isabelle Caro Dies, Reviving Size 0 Fashion Model Debate).

Have you noticed that it’s little men and really thin women who have a problem with even size 8 women? Think about that fact. Do small people gang up on normal body size folks in fashion land?

Talented short men can be tyrants. Consider Napoleon at about 5’6” and Hitler at 5’9”. The typical argument is that short men have ego problems, but many short men have ruled the world.

If they have insecurities, short men are good at working them out, often devising life strategies that more than overcome cultural preferences for tall males.

This topic of fashion and size 0 models first blew up in the Filippa Hamilton 2009 Photoshop debate. As the facts unfolded, we learned that Hamilton was too fat as a tall size 4 to model for Ralph.

To be fair, Ralph Lauren isn’t quoted as actually saying anything negative about larger women — just that Filippa Hamilton was no longer suitable as his muse. Karl Lagerfeld pulled no punches on the subject of larger women either, calling out the “fat mummies” who eat too many potato chips.

It was a tough couple of months for standard-weight BMI women. Hamilton’s body was no different from Cindy Crawford’s, Naomi Campbell and many of the great fashion models. She also sizzled with sexuality.

In this Renam Christofoletti photo feature, interestingly named “Just Being A Woman” , published in summer 2010, a commenter Ms Paige sounded the applause bell for models with bones and no breasts, saying:

Nothing wrong with bein skinny…better than fat! Having no boobs is better than big sloppy ones or rock solid fakes

Stop bein so judgement and grow up. You are all probably fat with saggy boobs or men with fat girlfriends! 

Fashion Role Models for Women

Lagerfeld said that women like me only want to look at “skinny models” for inspiration, which is just not true. Paige assumes the same. 

Challenging as it is to believe, I’m on record in today’s #2 story saying that I DO NOT want to look like the beautiful, gorgeous new Ralph Lauren model Ubah Hussan.

Her beauty is inspiring to many but not to me — although her courage and life ARE a great inspiration to me. Physically, I have ZERO desire to be that thin and used a fashion image of Isabelle Caro to make my point, in the article Ubah Hassan Does Look More Like Ralph Lauren’s Photoshopped Version of Filippa Hamilton.

I LIKE having muscle lust and a healthy, sensual body. I LIKE my physicality, and yes, it IS a form of power to me.

When I read about Isabelle Caro’s death, I remembered Julian Macdonald’s comments about ‘plus-size’ women like Crystal Renn, then a size 10-12 model who was leading the body image/body weight conversation.

Designer Julian Macdonald Says ‘No Plus-sizers Allowed’

The British designer and judge on “Britain’s Next Top Model”,  Julian Macdonald said there should be no plus-size models in the competition.  That means no Crystal Renns, even as she looked in the Chanel cruise show in St Tropez. 

Julian Macdonalds comments about ‘fat girls’ include size 4-6 US models. He was not talking about size 14 US models.  Any significant flesh attached to body fat on a woman’s body forces her out of the competition.

“This is a serious show. You can’t have a plus-size girl winning. It makes it a joke. It’s not fair on them. You’re setting them up for a fall. I know what would happen to them. They’re looked down upon.” 

Rising Asian Luxury Market

Many really small women, including the growing luxury market in Asia, loves fashion’s preference for very thin women. Supporting the economics of the fashion industry for one moment, reality is that the Asian luxury market will be much bigger dollar wise than America’s or Europe’s luxury market.

Let us be mindful that Asian women have a history of being bossed around every bit as seriously patriarchal as our own. Personally, I believe that Japanese men are among the most misogynistic in the world.

Standing Up for Sensual Women

As a women’s lifestyle and sexuality trends expert, I am unsettled by today’s sensual landscape in the fashion world. I couldn’t be more thrilled by the rising influence of Scandivavia in fashion, because I trust their relationships with women.

I’m confident that men like Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs will stand up for ‘real’ women of healthy body weight and BMIs that are considered medically healthy.  I believe these men honor ancient fertility goddesses.

Simultaneously, I see the rising power of men who want want women to look like boys. As a fashion philosopher, I know that we are entering a time of sensual fluidity. Bisexuality (which I endorse totally) is on the rise.

Men are dressing like women, which is fine in my mind, but I acknowledge that I tense up a bit on this issue.

My concern has nothing to do with men dressing up like women. I just have this deep-seeded fear that there is a strong contingent of the fashion industry who prefers that women lose our sexuality entirely and that we become a gender-neutral society with men in charge and women as muses.

I see this fashion preference as another way of neutralizing female power.

For thousands of years, men have sought to neutralize female sensuaity, and the post-Supermodels world of women with no breasts, hips or fat is the surrest sign that today’s world doesn’t celebrate the most-common feminine shape.

There have always been beautiful, sensual, tall, thin women with small breasts and no hips in fashion. But the Supermodels were all-woman in the archetypal sense, the female imagery carved on stone from the beginning of civilization.

I don’t want to lose her, and I’m tired of being politially incorrect for saying that she exists. Carl Jung argued strongly that there IS such a being as a female archetype. She is my identity, that goddess in India or Cleopatra in Egypt. And I apologize to all the really thin women with no breasts and hips for saying these words, but the female archetype does have breasts and hips.

Before women just merrily accept yet another redefinition of ‘self’ forced down our throats world’s men, I want us to understand what we are doing. Since when did breasts and hips become unfashionable?

I know, I Know. in France, the gamine shape is always celebrated, and god knows, I love France and French women.

Politically Correct Women Consumers

Still, I have convictions. When it comes to the views of designers like Julian Macdonald, just make a vow: never buy a handbag, a lipstick, a perfume, or a vibrator with his name on it. Never.

Nurturing is apparently not in his DNA, based on his comments. So do not buy any product with his name on it, if you don’t like his values. This is very simple, ladies. Just say “no thank you”.

When a celebrity wears Mr Macdonald’s clothes, nicely leave blog comments that you would prefer she didn’t wear his designs in the future, given Macdonald’s views on women’s health and killing animals for pleasure.

We women aren’t hamsters in the cage, as I keep saying. Nor are we hamsters in Karl Lagerfeld’s cage.Karl is a superb studier of female psychology. Let us probe his psyche in return.

Buy Tom Ford or Louis Vuitton, designed by Marc Jacobs who adores women of every size, even if he is gay —  if you don’t agree with Lagerfeld that the ideal woman has total mastery of her body, just like a top ballerina, who must be as thin as possible.

Ballerinas are known for being superby graceful and in command of themselves. The life of a ballerina is monastic. Karl Lagerfeld is on record telling Vice Magazine that he supports a desexualized monastic life, as the preferred one. It is a cerebral life of the mind, one that masters the body, emptiying it of sensual desire.

Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs aren’t trying to re-engineer the female body as a male one. Nor is Lanvin’s Alber Albaz. Nor did YSL. These designers celebrate confident women.

Personally, I believe Karl Lagerfeld prefers less confident women who need his life guidance. It’s a very different psychological relationship, and Karl’s is actually the more traditional and prevalent world view. This is why the Chanel Asian fashionistas, already very thin, are on diets to get their weight down to a Lagerfeld-approved BMI of about 15.

Woman to Woman Catfights

Now back to “Just Being A Woman”. While the photos are totally superficial and devoid of any emotion, they do remind us of women’s relationships with each other. Consider Carly Fiorina’s inexcusable catty comments about Barbara Boxer’s hair during the election. 

Who needs a tyrannical fashion designer to make us feel terrible about ourselves? Women do it to each other every day of the week.

The relationship of fashionista females with each other is drawn out quite vividly in these photos, and it rings true to me. 

Women mustn’t blame only men designers for their tyranny over women in terms of body image and beauty. Women must examine each other first.

In terms of real long-term damage on women’s psyches, the buck starts and stops with us — with a whole lot of help from the global morality police and fashion patriarchy.

Let’s forget the guys for awhile, and go one on one with each other.

Woman up, everyone! Crystal Renn and Filippa Hamilton triggered good conversation about body image. Let Isabelle Caro’s death be a reason for us to talk about why she found her body disgusting at age 12. Most anorexics — and Isabelle herself — say that anorexia is a battle for control of one’s body in a psychologically complex world where women control not much.

When will we stop giving that control over to men and assume it for ourselves? Or is this just the natural order of things in God’s world where men — short and tall — rule? Anne