YBD's Fiona O'Neill Knitted Bustier featured in Vogue Magazine's '54 Gifts You'll Actually Want This Christmas'
Only if you were in outer Guatemala could you have failed to notice the uproar around the "managed Anorexia" publicity debacle that took place mostly on Twitter last week. It certainly provoked a reaction from ourselves and many others and got me thinking around the subject matter all week long.
Our main joined up response was one of #curvesaresexy. We were doing this to counteract the tragedy of young girls- in particular- wanting to starve themselves to death. Thousands of reasons why "curves are sexy" started to fly about Twitterdom and we met with some abusive comments as to how we- working in fashion- really believed our size 6 asses were in any way qualified to comment. Except we, me in particular, are not size 6. In fact I'm a good size 12. With an occasional veering towards 14 and barely ever a size 10.
For our first season at Young British Designers we went with the flow and ordered mostly the sizes our designers felt most happy with. This was largely (or not largely at all) sizes 6-12 with an occasional 14 thrown in after much discussion. For season two, Spring Summer 2011, we have had some far more heated debates. We wanted to be able to supply up to a size 16. In some cases we have managed to do just this. Designers like Ada Zanditon have been delighted to accommodate us and there are others too.
But it hasn't been easy. Designers naturally want to see their creations looking their very best. We are all heartily brainwashed into believing that this is a 5'10 size 6 model with endless legs and a stylishly concave body structure. And it's true. Clothes flow and drape on such a shape and look amazing in photographs, in film. I have friends who are naturally this slim and there are so very many times I have envied the way a silken blouse falls with no body bits to stumble upon. And these friends of mine are most decidedly beautiful.
But I have another friend who is a wonderfully voluptuous size 16. Her skin is milky white, her eyes are sparkling hazel green and when she walks into a room every male stops, sniffs and watches as all else becomes freeze frame. Her breasts just spill and beckon, her arse sways and suggests...Why wouldn't she be dressed in something stunning from our collection? Why wouldn't our designers just adore to have their clothes upon her form? Is it because the body is too sexy for the designs?
Have we become too sanitised about body shapes? Is only 'thin/slim' acceptable because it has the purity associated with a child about to become an adult? Why do we all react so violently when a fashion designer like Mark Fast dares to parade 'normal size' models down the catwalk? Why is an American TV ad for a lingerie company banned for being too sexy when its curvaceous star is still wearing more clothing than we see in so many other ads every single day?
I remember the shock I felt when a man told me that the sexiest thing he ever saw was when a woman's bra or panties were just a teeny bit tight enough to create a curve above and below the garment line. Yes, that's right, the bits we all, as women, hate. The bits that can screw us up so much we can ruin our lives, sometimes even lose our lives.
Every woman's body is beautiful. Whether it be the curve of a foot arch, the swell of a belly that's given birth to a real being, the softness of an upper arm, the swoosh of shiny hair, a gap toothed smile, a delight in being alive. Sizes x to y. And we are our own worse enemies. Always competing, always dieting, always believing 'ten less kilos and I'll be happy'.
It's time to embrace living with the bodies we love in. The bodies that are loved and celebrated by others who are far less superficial than ourselves. I'm trying. We at Young British Designers are trying. Care to join us?