We love Grace Coddington. We do. A lot. Normally we find everything she says spot on and insightful. In particular this case, however, we're not 100% in agreement with her.
"It's a big problem. I remember when I was young [and still modeling], they told me that if I didn't lose weight, I'd be out of the show, so I spent a week living off of coffee. But I'm a very levelheaded person. These problems nowadays are with kids much, much younger than that, and that's most of the problem - when they're very young and vulnerable….
But is a big problem in the fashion industry. And you go to meetings to discuss it, and you think it's kind of futile, because it's such a big thing, and in the end, people are always asking for more and they're always asking for thinner…. [Models] have to be a little thinner than you and I because you always photograph a little fatter, but you don't have to go to the extremes they go to. And because they're kids, they take it too far and they can't regulate their lives, and next thing you know, they're anorexic, and it is tragic.
And I don't know what the answer is, except to keep on it, which we're all trying to do. Anna's trying to do it. Personally, we're not allowed, at Vogue, to work with girls who are very thin, but you never know, because you could book them and think they're a certain size, and they turn up on the shoot and suddenly they've spun into this anorexic situation. And you're on the spot and you have to get the job done and you have one day to do it, and what do you do? But you try to be responsible, as Anna is."
We're glad that she's concerned and that Anna and all the folks at Vogue are trying to be responsible about it.
That said, we think that saying most of the problem is the models' inability to regulate themselves is kind of a cop out. We're not discrediting Grace, we're sure there's some merit to what she says, but there are unquestionably other, bigger factors. First of all, too-thin models are still getting hired. Karl Lagerfeld declared that "no one wants to see curvy women," in fashion. Ralph Lauren freaking fired Filippa Hamilton for being too fat!
In regards to the Ralph incident, Grace said, "Most of his models are not super-skinny, so this is sort of an isolated situation, and I think it's unfair if he gets a lot of bad publicity because of it. But it is a big problem in the fashion industry."
Regardless of how thin most of Ralph's models are, there is clearly a message being sent to all models by the people who keep them in business. Of course the models will be responsive. And we don't think age has anything to do with it - models have always been young and barely ever do runway past their early twenties.
We just think that if all the people who pay you collectively say "jump," you will jump. For models, all the designers who pay them say "thin," so they get thin. And then the get hired. If they don't, they get fired.
If all designers refused to hire scary skinny models, if models were fired for being too thin, they'd have to adapt to maintain their livelihood. But this, of course, is not the case. So we think most of the problem is in the hands of the people who pay the models, not the models themselves.
Love ya, Gracie, but we have to politely disagree with you on this one.
[Image via WENN.]