March 26, 2008

In The News: Dieting Off The Runway

Vogue magazine asked Kate and Laura Mulleavy -- the sisters behind the highly successful Rodarte fashion line -- if they were interested in dieting and working out with a trainer for a feature piece.

The two women, interested in shaping up and getting healthier, agreed to four months of personal training, home delivered meals, and diary entries to later be published in the fashionista's Bible.

After sixteen weeks of training six days a week and consuming approximately 1,300 calories a day, Kate lost thirty pounds; her sister, twenty.

Needless to say, controversy has erupted.

"They are perpetuating unrealistic body images," some claim.

Others think Vogue is sending out the wrong message that in order to be succesful, one must be thin.

Now look, I am by no means a fashion guru and am often horrified at the gaunt, clearly underweight bodies that march down runways at fashion shows.

In this case, though, I don't see what the problem is.

It is worth noting that in one of her diaries, Kate writes:

"Funnily enough, just before we received the call from Vogue about this story, Laura and I went to see our doctor for a physical.

Our mother was worried about out workload and lack of exercise; we wanted to be healthier and balance our stress levels.

These were not size 4 models dining on coffee and cigarrettes being told they were "too fat" to walk down a runway (you can see a photo of Kate and Laura prior to their makeover by clicking on their names at the start of this post).

The Mullavys were also never given the message that if they "wanted to make it" as designers, then they better lose weight.

They are already accomplished and successful.

The magazine featured their work -- and complimented their designs -- several times before this weight loss article was conceived.

Their present weight is a healthy one -- they are not emaciated or displaying unhealthy bodies.

I also appreciated that their plan consisted of pre-set meals (to ensure that they were nutritionally balanced, rather than just letting the two women figure out how to eat correctly on a 1,300 calorie diet) and implemented exercise under the supervision of a trained professional.

Another interesting tidbit from their diary entries:

"“We’ll have wine when we feel like it and cheat on holidays.”

In short, these are two adult women who chose to participate in something they saw as a way to improve their health.

In the same way that someone has the right to feel completely content and self-assured with fifteen extra pounds on them, it is also reasonable to expect that there are overweight people who truly want to improve their health and, why not, look better too.

This was not a challenge the sisters had to complete successfully in order to launch their clothing line.

At no point do the Mullavys mention doing this to "look hot", land significant others, or fit into a dream bikini. And, they currently report feeling healthier and more energetic than before.

I realize they went on a strict eating plan and exercise regimen, but they were not taking diet pills, cutting out food groups, or doing senseless things like subsisting on liquids concoctions made of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and honey for a week (I'm looking at you, Beyoncé).

The New York Times article quotes Dr. Cynthia Bulik, eating disorders professor at The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, who makes a very good point:

"“I saw more of an emphasis on healthy eating and healthy fitness than an order, ‘You’ve got to lose weight."

I do, however, absolutely side with the feminist-thinking folks at Radar magazine, who can't help but wonder that if Vogue editors are so concerned about people's health, why don't they ask a dietitian to have a chat with fashion guru Andre Leon Talley?

What are your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

André talks about his health & diet often in his column. He has been seeing people about his health. Radar is full of shit.

Anonymous said...

André talks about his health & diet often in his column. He has been seeing people about his health. Radar is full of shit.

Andy Bellatti said...

I don't read Vogue, so I was going off of what Radar said as well as photos I have seen.

I wasn't aware Andre talks about his health and diet often. Thanks for the heads up.