Zero

sizezerologo

A decent primetime ITV documentary, then
The Truth About Size Zero was on two nights ago. Watched it last night. It was an hour and a half long (albeit about 20 minutes if you forwarded over the adverts), and thus a big commitment by ITV to a burning issue that concerns me less because it’s about fashion, more because it’s about the media, who are, after all, in bed with fashion. In it, Louise Redknapp, formerly Louise Nurding, formerly Louise, footballer’s wife and Clothes Show presenter (I didn’t know that, but I can’t say I’ve followed her career in much detail since she stopped being a singer and started being an FHM cover star), aimed to get her not-considerable weight down to the fabled Size Zero in 30 days. For the unitiated ie. me, Size Zero is the American conversion of our own Size 4, for some reason. I don’t know too much about dress sizes, but I know that Size 4 is tiny, because Size 8 is pretty slim in itself and Sizes 12 and 14 are medium. For the record, Louise began as a Size 8 and didn’t look to me like she had much to lose. Her footballing husband, Jamie, said he liked her “curves” and rued the day she decided to do this experiment in the name of shaming those that crash-diet.

This was Super Size Me in reverse, and much less sensational and LCD than you might expect from the channel. I’ve read on Clair’s blog that this wasn’t an original format, having been done on BBC3, but I didn’t see that one, so it was new to me. Basically, Louise seems a likeable young woman. She and Jamie and their baby were filmed around their house, which although spacious and with its own gym, was a world apart from other footballers’ houses I’ve seen the interiors of, which are ostentatious and cold. When the Beckhams had that documentary crew in, the most telling thing was that clearly neither of them ever used the kitchen. I believe that Louise knocks up a stir-fry or pasta dish for her family. Anyway, she went to LA to be trained at Barry’s Boot Camp, and after seeing a Harley Street doctor who told her not to do it, and that she would get bad breath, started a new dietary regime: no carbs, one-egg omolettes for dinner, a bit of salad, some steamed fish and a side order of nothing. The endless gym sessions, morning and night, combined with the no-laughs diet, knocked pounds off her (she went from 7 stone 10 to 7 stone 3 in a week); it also made her irritable, tired, vomity, jealous and pissed off. She started shouting at her fat bulldogs when they’d done nothing wrong.

The change was palpable. Ignoring a slightly-staged warning from her doc halfway through to stop, she made it into a Size Zero dress after a month and looked like a grey, hollow-eyed, knackered apparation of her former self. The programme constantly snapped back to rostrum shots of skinny models and actresses with their bony chests, concentration-camp arms and that frightening gap between the legs – as if their limbs have been screwed into the pelvis too far apart – and you couldn’t help but see some kind of conspiracy against women. Louise visited a clinc for young girls with eating disorders, the youngest of whom was a recovering anorexic aged 12 (yes, 12). It was interesting that all of these girls were well-spoken. Is the eating disorder a product of Affluenza? Jamie Redknapp spoke for all heterosexual men when he said he loved Louise for her curves (these “curves” of course, are relative – but his point is sound), and that he didn’t know a single bloke who fancied stick-thin women. Nor do I. But then, we are talking about models and film stars, the sort of people who wear high-fashion clothes in public, and are thus unwitting – sometimes witting – victims of a multimillion dollar industry’s tyranny. Clearly a nice new dress will actually look best hanging on a wire coathanger, so turning women into walking, pouting bone versions of the same is good for fashion shows. Here’s a controversial thought: is it because most male fashion designers are gay? (You will probably tell me that dresses designed by women are just the same. But why are women made to look like long, thin boys? That whole Sophie Dahl thing lasted about two weeks, didn’t it?)

Hats off to Louise Redknapp, anyway, for putting herself though hell and hating every minute of it. And don’t feed your bulldogs pasta.

32 thoughts on “Zero

  1. There is a theory which I would suspect may be correct that the root of this whole problem is that it costs less for the fashion industry to clothe smaller figures (smaller figure = less material to clothe said figure = less money spent per item of clothing). Therefore in purely financial terms it is more cost effective for the fashion industry to clothe smaller models. This is where it starts. Sadly this leads to skinny models appearing on the runways and in fashion magazines and suddenly many impressionable people feel that they too must look the same. Despite what some people say I just do not believe that any adult can be healthy at Size Zero. Asda has started selling Size Zero clothes and states that this is just to fulfill a need in the market. This makes me mad because the need they are fulfilling is an unhealthy and dangerous one. I know someone who almost died of anorexia and I can tell you it is not a pretty sight. Models have already died trying to achieve this weight and that should be telling us something. I am heartened by some recent attempts to ban Size Zero models but it is just not enough.

  2. There is a theory which I would suspect may be correct that the root of this whole problem is that it costs less for the fashion industry to clothe smaller figures (smaller figure = less material to clothe said figure = less money spent per item of clothing). Therefore in purely financial terms it is more cost effective for the fashion industry to clothe smaller models. This is where it starts. Sadly this leads to skinny models appearing on the runways and in fashion magazines and suddenly many impressionable people feel that they too must look the same. Despite what some people say I just do not believe that any adult can be healthy at Size Zero. Asda has started selling Size Zero clothes and states that this is just to fulfill a need in the market. This makes me mad because the need they are fulfilling is an unhealthy and dangerous one. I know someone who almost died of anorexia and I can tell you it is not a pretty sight. Models have already died trying to achieve this weight and that should be telling us something. I am heartened by some recent attempts to ban Size Zero models but it is just not enough.

  3. The ‘Sophie Dahl thing’ did indeed last a couple of weeks, then she started losing weight. Apparently of her ‘own volition’. Yeah, right….

  4. The ‘Sophie Dahl thing’ did indeed last a couple of weeks, then she started losing weight. Apparently of her ‘own volition’. Yeah, right….

  5. I saw Dawn Porter’s excellent documentary on BBC3 (or was it BBC4?) the other night and she brought a journalist’s healthy cynicism, allied with a great deal of self-effacing, earthy wit, to the subject. Like Louise Rednapp, she embarked on a crash diet and exercise regime in an attempt to squeeze herself into a size zero dress. Needless to say, she too became irritable and miserable. She had several targets in the fasion industry, all of whom passed the buck: the model booking agents blamed the designers, etc.But ultimately the focus of her anger was the head of the British fashion council, who has the power to ban size zero models from UK fashion shows, just as they did in Madrid. She was unavailable for comment.

  6. I saw Dawn Porter’s excellent documentary on BBC3 (or was it BBC4?) the other night and she brought a journalist’s healthy cynicism, allied with a great deal of self-effacing, earthy wit, to the subject. Like Louise Rednapp, she embarked on a crash diet and exercise regime in an attempt to squeeze herself into a size zero dress. Needless to say, she too became irritable and miserable. She had several targets in the fasion industry, all of whom passed the buck: the model booking agents blamed the designers, etc.But ultimately the focus of her anger was the head of the British fashion council, who has the power to ban size zero models from UK fashion shows, just as they did in Madrid. She was unavailable for comment.

  7. My hero Grayson Perry (a size 14 himself, fact fans) wrote this in The Times the other week that Viktor and Rolf say they use size-zero models as they are ‘to he fashion show what plain white walls are to an art gallery. To paint the walls a different colour is always making a statement. To use different-sized or shaped models would distract from the already challenging concepts of their clothes.’So yeah, clothes hang better on a lithe body. But I think the anorexia debate, needed though it is, is less important than the obesity one – there are more fatties out there than dangerously thin people. The media could help by showing more average Joes and Josephines, and average people, but sadly that’s not what our biz is about.

  8. My hero Grayson Perry (a size 14 himself, fact fans) wrote this in The Times the other week that Viktor and Rolf say they use size-zero models as they are ‘to he fashion show what plain white walls are to an art gallery. To paint the walls a different colour is always making a statement. To use different-sized or shaped models would distract from the already challenging concepts of their clothes.’So yeah, clothes hang better on a lithe body. But I think the anorexia debate, needed though it is, is less important than the obesity one – there are more fatties out there than dangerously thin people. The media could help by showing more average Joes and Josephines, and average people, but sadly that’s not what our biz is about.

  9. Clair, I’m not that anorexia is less important an issue than obesity. While both extremes are hugely damaging for the physical health of the sufferer, they are also pretty big indicators of a serious psychological problem as well. The difference between the two though is the media’s portrayal. Obesity has long been ridiculed, or shown as unattractive. It’s connected to greed and lack of self-control or self-respect.It’s taken until now and a nice buzz phrase like Size Zero before the media have started to backlash against stick thin models or celebs. And even now it’s half hearted – page 2: Size Zero Debate, page 4: Nicole Richie looking ill, page 6: The New Celeb Diet!, page 8: Isn’t Kiera wonderful!Obesity is a huge problem, and even though we are aware of the dangers it’s not going away. But anorexia and bulimia has been hidden and silently encouraged by the media for too long now.

  10. Clair, I’m not that anorexia is less important an issue than obesity. While both extremes are hugely damaging for the physical health of the sufferer, they are also pretty big indicators of a serious psychological problem as well. The difference between the two though is the media’s portrayal. Obesity has long been ridiculed, or shown as unattractive. It’s connected to greed and lack of self-control or self-respect.It’s taken until now and a nice buzz phrase like Size Zero before the media have started to backlash against stick thin models or celebs. And even now it’s half hearted – page 2: Size Zero Debate, page 4: Nicole Richie looking ill, page 6: The New Celeb Diet!, page 8: Isn’t Kiera wonderful!Obesity is a huge problem, and even though we are aware of the dangers it’s not going away. But anorexia and bulimia has been hidden and silently encouraged by the media for too long now.

  11. “The media could help by showing more average Joes and Josephines, and average people, but sadly that’s not what our biz is about.”Clair – of course this is correct, I assume, because average doesn’t sell magazines and newspapers. There would be nothing wrong with this if there were not so many impressionable people who felt that they must fit in with what they see in the media. The sad fact is that these impressionable people exist and many feel that to “fit in” one must be the same weight as those they see in the media. Of course obese people tend to be ridiculed more than skinny people so losing weight seems to be the obvious option.

  12. “The media could help by showing more average Joes and Josephines, and average people, but sadly that’s not what our biz is about.”Clair – of course this is correct, I assume, because average doesn’t sell magazines and newspapers. There would be nothing wrong with this if there were not so many impressionable people who felt that they must fit in with what they see in the media. The sad fact is that these impressionable people exist and many feel that to “fit in” one must be the same weight as those they see in the media. Of course obese people tend to be ridiculed more than skinny people so losing weight seems to be the obvious option.

  13. I work in mental health, and see an unsettling number of women with eating disorders of various kinds. The younger ones are more often from ‘middle class’ families ( at a boarding school I once attached to, bulimia was almost literally a competitive sport. A whole debate can be had about THAT). I felt obliged to watch the Louise Redknapp programme as I knew some of my patients would be glued to it. The following morning I saw an exquisitely pretty 17-year old who has struggled with anorexia for two years. She was delighted to have seen the programme “because it made it looks so easy…to get down to a size zero in a month! I know I can do it now!”She voiced what I had also felt while watching it. Nobody who has already begun the endless loop of an eating disorder is going to be put off one jot by Louise’s alusions to how crap the diet made her feel. They will simply focus on the fact that she ‘did it’ (and the fact that she started out a size 8 will go by the board as well). I thought the programme was probably well-intentioned, and Louise Reknapp certainly came across as likeable, but from someone working in the field, it felt like a big own-goal. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  14. I work in mental health, and see an unsettling number of women with eating disorders of various kinds. The younger ones are more often from ‘middle class’ families ( at a boarding school I once attached to, bulimia was almost literally a competitive sport. A whole debate can be had about THAT). I felt obliged to watch the Louise Redknapp programme as I knew some of my patients would be glued to it. The following morning I saw an exquisitely pretty 17-year old who has struggled with anorexia for two years. She was delighted to have seen the programme “because it made it looks so easy…to get down to a size zero in a month! I know I can do it now!”She voiced what I had also felt while watching it. Nobody who has already begun the endless loop of an eating disorder is going to be put off one jot by Louise’s alusions to how crap the diet made her feel. They will simply focus on the fact that she ‘did it’ (and the fact that she started out a size 8 will go by the board as well). I thought the programme was probably well-intentioned, and Louise Reknapp certainly came across as likeable, but from someone working in the field, it felt like a big own-goal. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  15. “Is the eating disorder a product of Affluenza?”Andrew, have you read the book ‘Affluenza’, and if so what did you think of it?

  16. “Is the eating disorder a product of Affluenza?”Andrew, have you read the book ‘Affluenza’, and if so what did you think of it?

  17. Didn’t see this programme, but hats off to ITV by the sound of it. We’re an odd nation aren’t we, apparently slipping ever further into obesity while apparently idolising the stick thin?! Not hard to see why a lot of people, especially women it would seem, have a very confused relationship with food and their bodies.

  18. Didn’t see this programme, but hats off to ITV by the sound of it. We’re an odd nation aren’t we, apparently slipping ever further into obesity while apparently idolising the stick thin?! Not hard to see why a lot of people, especially women it would seem, have a very confused relationship with food and their bodies.

  19. All this in the week glamour magazine organised a race for women wearing stilletos. The lucky winners got a few thousands quid hurrah! I’m afraid Mr Perry couldn’t have entered.

  20. All this in the week glamour magazine organised a race for women wearing stilletos. The lucky winners got a few thousands quid hurrah! I’m afraid Mr Perry couldn’t have entered.

  21. Anorexia is bewildering and I don’t have anything profound to add but on a purely practical level it’s much easier for other people to see how fat/thin you are than it is for you yourself, just as you can slide into ill-health and be the last to notice. Interesting point about thin models as white walls – it could be a reason that the fashion world isn’t entirely conscious of. There also seems to be a loyalty and caution in the industry that makes changing it like turning a tanker.

  22. Anorexia is bewildering and I don’t have anything profound to add but on a purely practical level it’s much easier for other people to see how fat/thin you are than it is for you yourself, just as you can slide into ill-health and be the last to notice. Interesting point about thin models as white walls – it could be a reason that the fashion world isn’t entirely conscious of. There also seems to be a loyalty and caution in the industry that makes changing it like turning a tanker.

  23. Agreed. Nice to have view from the the front line ishouldbeworking.Unrelated but..Did anyone see the documentary on climate change. Bunch of Alchemists and Heretics daring to challenge the view that the world is going to end this year. I’ll call Jeremy Vine, he’s going to need to do some more scaremongering…

  24. Agreed. Nice to have view from the the front line ishouldbeworking.Unrelated but..Did anyone see the documentary on climate change. Bunch of Alchemists and Heretics daring to challenge the view that the world is going to end this year. I’ll call Jeremy Vine, he’s going to need to do some more scaremongering…

  25. I read somewhere online that Louise Redknapp went back to size 8 but “preferred” being size zero/4. It seems like showing people exactly how to get to size zero in a month is a bit like showing people how to commit suicide – I see others here have said that a lot of the people watching might have been taking notes.

  26. I read somewhere online that Louise Redknapp went back to size 8 but “preferred” being size zero/4. It seems like showing people exactly how to get to size zero in a month is a bit like showing people how to commit suicide – I see others here have said that a lot of the people watching might have been taking notes.

  27. well im 13 and I think people that disagree with size zero are jelous becuase they are fat. How do so many people feel it’s right to comment on people that are underwieght but overwieght women arent shamed.size zero looks brilliant on the catwalk size zero is lovely and it looks so great. if everybody in the “real” world is doing it, its good and i hope i can achieve it

  28. well im 13 and I think people that disagree with size zero are jelous becuase they are fat. How do so many people feel it’s right to comment on people that are underwieght but overwieght women arent shamed.size zero looks brilliant on the catwalk size zero is lovely and it looks so great. if everybody in the “real” world is doing it, its good and i hope i can achieve it

  29. “Here’s a controversial thought: is it because most male fashion designers are gay?”I think this is funny because I had this thought myself. The thin craze is even worse over here in the US. It’s sickening. Size 12-14 here is considered ‘plus sizes’ aka.. fat girl clothes. When I was a teen you didn’t get into plus sizes till you hit size 18. Unfortunately now the sizes themselves are shrinking as well. If you wore a Size 8 you are now a Size 12 or bigger. I think there is something to the whole gay men being the leaders and in a way rulers and trendsetters of the fashion industry. The women ARE made to look like boys. Tall, stick thin, flat chests, narrow hips. If you look at the Porn business that is angled more toward heterosexual men and strip clubs you’ll see the difference. The women in porn are voluptuous. They have a touch of belly and when they are contorted they have ROLLS. They have curvy hips and breasts (often much larger than normal!). They even have, god forbid, back fat. Sure they aren’t obese but they are more curvy and womanly than fashion models. And by no means am I promoting the plastic surgery and other body horrors that the over exagerated prom gals have. Simply noting the difference in perceptions of what is beautiful and how that image is shaped and molded by who it is that is doing the perceiving. Personally I think we all need to stop letting other people tell us what we should like and start being individuals again. Live healthy. Love often. Laugh always.

  30. As a follow up to the whole fat vs skinny thing?….At it’s root it is the focus on the Size Zero issue that causes and/or contributes to both extremes. The already thin girls feel the need to be thinner. The heavier girls think they should try to be like that and when they can’t fall back into those self destructive patterns that make their weight condition worse. Everyone focusing on that one unattainable goal (unless you starve, binge/purge, use illegal drugs to kill appetite and keep energy, etc..) is causing a plethora of problems. Already thin girls are pressured not to gain an ounce. Already heavy girls are pressured to attain an unattainable goal never taking into account the factors of genetics and possible medical disorders that could be causing such weight gain. Both can and usually do suffer from psychological issues that compound the issue. I have struggled with weight my entire life. Struggled to fit the image of beauty that I saw all around me. For me the less I ate and the more I excercised it never made a difference. I actually gained weight. At age 18 thyroid problems were a possibility but tests ruled it out. It wasn’t until I was 32 yrs old that a Nurse Practitioner at my Gyno’s office did a fasting blood glucose test and tested my natural insulin levels that we discovered that my body was insulin resistant. It is the opposite of traditional diabetes. My body produces too much insulin instead of not producing enough. The receptors in the body did not recognize the insulin that was being produced and would send signals to the glands to produce more resulting in a massive dump of insulin in my body. That excess insuling caused energy to be stored (fat) instead of being used. It triggered the craving for starchy and simple sugar foods to try to burn off the excess insulin which was a huge vicious circle. The less I ate, the more I gained. I had no energy and was lethargic all the time. Now that I am on medicine to help my body regulate and process the insulin that it naturally produces I feel better. I have more energy. I am losing weight even though I am eating more. For years I was depressed because I couldn’t shop in the ‘skinny girl’s’ section. I couldn’t look like these little girls that seemed to have it easy and rolled my eyes more than once at hearing them talk about “Oh my god.. I’m so fat. I gained like a pound and now I’m a cow!” despite the fact that they were adults and still shopping in the teenager’s section int he store. I’m more mature now. I can respect and appreciate all the different forms of beauty out there. I can see the beauty in me even if the media tells me that I’m not. I don’t ever want to be a Size Zero. Not ever, even if you paid me. When I reach my goal size (not weight, I refused to hung up on numbers) I will still be considered a ‘plus size’ but for my body shape, height, and build it will be a good thing. A healthy weight. At 5’6 my ideal weight is somewhere between 140-150 lbs. Size 14-16 here I come.

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