Size zero was a much debated topic in the fashion industry. For over two years now, campaigns and articles have been making rounds against this body type. First things first, what is size zero? Size zero is a women’s clothing size according to the US catalogue system, size 0 and size 00 were adopted in the recent years because of Vanity sizing, and different sizes in every country that manufactured ready-to-wear clothing. Now when this trend started to escalate in the late 2009, women in the modelling industry were expected to maintain a size zero figure, which meant the measurements ranging from 30-22-32 to 33-25-35 (Chest-Stomach-Hips). Surprisingly, this was a huge leap away from the measurement that was once considered the ideal body type, 36-24-26, now that size seems fat compared to the size zero.
Over the years, the ideal body shape for women in the fashion industry had changed immensely. In 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was the perfect body for a woman, plump hips, short hair and big breasts. Next came the transitional 1960s where skinny women were the new rage, but this was nothing compared to 1990s when unhealthily thin women with translucent skins, flat chested and visible rib cages became the standard models. It was an age and era that made the size zero popular.
However, we have models in today’s time that do not believe in the concept of skinny. Kritika Anand, a successful model and a contestant at the Femina Miss India 2015 doesn’t approve of being a size zero, “I think it’s an unhealthy trend, the whole concept of size zero. People should try to stay fit and live healthily rather than confine to any particular size. Each and every person has a different body type and some of the most beautiful women in the world are plus sized. At the end of the day you need to eat right, work out at regular intervals and sleep enough, there is no substitute if you want to look good.”
Trends like this one also led to fat shaming in the industry, various magazines and journalists thought they were given the right to point out a few extra Kgs models and actresses put on. Not only did this psychologically scar and hurt celebrities, it also affected teenagers and adolescent girls who looked up to them as role-models. Eating disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia increased among young girls as being “curvy” and “heavy” was no longer acceptable, it was during this phase that it became known that eating disorder is actually socially transmitted disease. Varshini Balan is a student of medicine and has seen several cases of eating disorders around the hospital, Ramachandra Medical Centre where she assists senior doctors, “The size zero culture is seen in our country among 15-20 year olds. It’s at that age they try to live the way adults do, and if they can’t succeed they tend to try abnormal methods of losing weight. This can be in the form of anorexia, which is just eating minute quantities of food at abnormal times, or bulimia nervosa which is much worse as the patients tend to eat and then attempt to remove the food from their system by purging, using laxatives. The main reason is because of how desirability is portrayed these days by the society. There’s pressure on the child to look skinny and if it’s a child on the chubby side, it dangerously lowers their self-esteem. Adolescence is a tough time in any person’s life. The children who develop these disorders are mostly neglected at home by working parents or because the parents have too many siblings. So the only way to prevent this is to make sure they’re attended to and they have an adult who’s available when they need to talk,” she said.
Many models, actresses and social workers have voiced their opinions against this fade. Campaigns like Size Hero and Say No to Size Zero are just two such that have become immensely popular. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is a motto that has been making rounds on weight loss websites; this comment was originally made by model Kate Moss in an interview and received a lot of criticism from designers and social activists alike.
One campaign that did it absolutely right was Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Size Hero campaign; they advocated that women were “sexy at every size”. They even bought out an entire issue dedicated to this cause.
In another story, Katie Green, a young model was asked to lose weight by the PR agency of Wonderbra, when she landed a modelling contract by winning a contest. Why? Because she was a UK size 8 and did not possess the lean model figure they expected. She then refused and started her campaign, “Say No to Size Zero” that filed a petition that size zero models shouldn’t be allowed to walk the ramp. However, after all that has been said and done, her attempt to get a ban drew a lot of negative publicity. Katie was profusely criticised for shaming thin models who were naturally a size zero and found her hatred offensive. Somewhere down the line it seemed like Katie lost the plot, the point is to be comfortable I your own skin and not follow a certain passing trend.
Words: Akanksha Bhatia