Modeling industry sends bad body image message

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    Filippa Hamilton is a tall, gorgeous model. You have probably seen her in advertisements for Ralph Lauren for the last seven years, where she has been a contract model. Recently Hamilton was “let go” (read: fired) from her modeling contract due to the “inability to meet her contractual obligations,” according to the New York Daily News.

    Hamilton says she was actually fired for one reason. She was too fat. Yes, that’s right. A 5-foot-10-inch woman, weighing in at a paltry 120 pounds, was fired for being fat. But Hamilton’s horror didn’t end there. A week later images of her that had been drastically altered appeared in Japan. The Photoshopped image showed Hamilton looking like an anorexic scarecrow. She was horrified and so are many other women.

    It’s bad enough that most of us can’t relate to any of the models we see in magazines. I don’t know a single person that is that tall and skinny in real life, so I don’t even pay attention to most models. It’s like they aren’t real people because they don’t look like me.

    I make it a point to leave Bust Magazine lying around the house because I want my daughter to see the models. Some are plus size and some have tattoos or funky hair. Now, those girls look like me or people I actually know. Comparing ourselves to models is a dangerous pastime. Who really wears a size four? Hamilton does, and apparently that doesn’t make her thin enough.

    Hamilton said she was worried what girls would think when they saw the retouched picture. She doesn’t want to be a bad example, according to msnbc.com. I couldn’t agree more. Most of us have the self-esteem and sense to know these are impossible body ideals, but some younger girls may think that’s what normal women look like.

    Last month, Glamour did a feature story on “normal” sized models (called “plus size” in the modeling industry, of course). I was both happy and angry to see these amazing hourglass-shaped women. Why hadn’t I seen them in magazines or advertisements before? Why was it such a big deal to see them now? Advertisements like the Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty are very positive. But we need more of these things. Write letters to your favorite magazines demanding to see real-sized women with boobs and hips. Boycott magazines that put size-zero skeletons on the cover in bikinis. Tell every young woman you see about Photoshop’s ability to make models look like aliens, and women are actually supposed to have curves. But be smart and don’t ever use the word fat.

    I was so relieved when Kate Moss stopped being the ideal model of beauty and fashion. Let’s bring in a new ideal. I’d like to call it the “you are beautiful the way you are, whatever your shape” ideal. I hope Hamilton finds a new job where she can revel in being her beautiful self.

    Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.