A while ago I got into an argument on facebook (yes, a very productive use of my time). Someone posted a link to a blog post of theirs for feedback (and very likely to extend their readership) in a fitness-related group I’m in, which is fine. The blog post in question though featured a picture of a model with a bull’s eye over her face and pitted conventional models vs. women who lift weights.
Given the feminist nature of this group this did not go over as well as the author had hoped and plenty of reasons were given on why pitting women against each other and putting bull’s eyes on people’s faces is a bad idea, I won’t go over it all over again.
The person who wrote that blog post claimed that she just wanted to show her new-found love for strength training and her frustration with the conventional way of doing things. That’s perfectly understandable. However, super models aren’t what’s wrong with the world, or the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the problem with the fashion industry. Models are just the outward faces.
I worked part-time several years at customer service while I was an undergraduate. While most people who called in were decent people there were inevitable the bad apples, and if something unforeseen happened that affected a majority of our clients more and more people take out their frustration on us, the customer service reps. Not because we had the power to change anything, but because we were the outer face of the company and the only people they could actually reach.
Models are in the same way the outer, public faces of the fashion industry but they don’t call the shots any more than I did in customer service. They’re better paid for sure, but they don’t make the rules, they don’t decide what’s hot, how fashion should look, the trial dress sizes etc. But they’re there, and they are public.
It is very easy to smear models for how the fashion industry looks. It’s easy to yell at customer service when your phone bill is messed up and I see a lot of people where I live who are dissatisfied with aspects of how government is run that blame various agencies for the policies they did not write but have to implement.
I’m continually surprised by this, though perhaps I shouldn’t be. But the thing is that if we want to change something we have to focus on the root of the problem. If we want to change the ideals of the fashion industry we need to pressure the makers of fashion, not the wearers, to change. If we are dissatisfied with government services we need to pressure the policy-makers (that is, our elected officials) rather than those tasked with carrying out that policy.
The people in charge will want to have barriers between themselves and their voter or customer. It’s an easy and convenient way to distance yourself from the consequences of their actions and maintain the status quo. But those are the people we have to get to if we want genuine change of any kind.