Lately, I’ve noticed I get a lot of ads for cashmere. Facebook, in particular, has been bombarding me with ads for cozy cashmere sweaters and pants, which look a little itchy. I’ve also been getting a ton of ads for Neuhaus chocolates, which I actually decided to indulge last week. Consequently, my most comfortable garments are of the nightie variety.
I would never buy a garment from a Facebook ad, even though some of them are tempting. I don’t think most of the ads for clothes found on Facebook realistically represent the garments they’re selling. I’ve read a number of horror stories from friends and strangers alike, lamenting how the quality of that nice looking sweater leaves much to be desired when it finally arrives months later. And good luck actually being able to wear the garment, which is probably sized for a pygmy. I’m size challenged myself. That’s why I buy my clothes from familiar American retailers whose sizes I know.
Last week I noticed an ad for a shapeless cashmere sweater dress. It was being marketed by an outfit called Gentle Herd. The ad featured an extremely thin model. The dress she was wearing basically hung on her, as if she was a coat hanger. Looking at the comments, I could see that I wasn’t the only one who thought she looked way too thin. I wondered how it was that anyone of a more normal size would even have an idea of what that dress would look like. I didn’t comment on the ad itself, but I did see some comments that were much like what I was thinking. Here’s one written by another woman who saw the ad:
Your models are unnaturally skinny. Who knows what the clothes will look like on normal-sized people.
Another person wrote this:
Calling skinny people “unnatural” is just wrong, some people can’t get fat no matter what they try… For a lot of people this IS normal.
To the above comment, I would beg to differ. The definition of “normal” is “conforming to a standard or typical”. I would not say this model represents the typical. Being that thin may be “perfectly normal” for her, but it’s not normal in terms of the general population, unless you’re living in places where people tend to be very slight, such as in parts of Asia or Africa. On the other hand, I do agree that saying she’s “unnaturally skinny” may be wrong. For all we know, this may very well be her “natural” size.
I shared the ad on my page and wrote that she “needs to be fed”. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have written that. I don’t know the model. Maybe she eats like a sumo wrestler and never gains a pound. I do know there are some people who have a hard time gaining weight. I also know that it’s not nice to body shame, not that I was trying to shame. Honestly, my first visceral reaction to that photo was alarm. To me, she looks unhealthy, although she may be perfectly fine. I’m not her doctor. I don’t know.
Sure enough, someone took me to task for that comment, which appeared on my personal Facebook page. I was a bit irritated about that. First of all, most people don’t like it when their friends criticize or scold them in front of others, particularly over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. It would be one thing if I was being outright cruel to someone I know personally who might read my comments. But the model isn’t on my friends list, so it’s unlikely that she would be offended by an offhand comment I made about her and the dress she was modeling on my personal page, which isn’t open for public consumption.
Secondly, even if she did have access to my personal Facebook page, she’s a model, and as such, she should probably be prepared to hear comments about her looks. She presumably makes a living selling fashion to the masses. Since that’s her line of work, people can and will judge her for her appearance. She’s not just some chick on the street who’s really skinny. This is her JOB. She has chosen a career that puts her on display and people are going to comment.
The Gentle Herd dress may or may not be considered haute couture. I don’t know anything about high fashion, since I doubt most of it would fit me, nor would it appeal to me. I like clothes that are comfortable. If they happen to be stylish, that’s a bonus, but above all, they must be pleasant to wear. The cashmere sack dress being modeled by the thin model might or might not be comfortable. I’m not sure it would be flattering on me, though, and this model isn’t really helping to answer that question. She doesn’t have a body type like the vast majority of women I know, with one or two exceptions. Gentle Herd comments that they have different sized models, but none of them are wearing the dress they’re selling.
I remember when I used to watch America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks would, on occasion, take some models to task for being too thin. I am no fan of Tyra’s. I think she’s an obnoxious bully. But when it comes to fashion, it’s about art– but it’s also about business. If you’re selling someone’s artistic vision at a fashion show, yes, you probably should be stick thin. But if you’re selling a sweater dress on Facebook, presumably marketed to the everyday housewife, maybe it would be better to use a model with a more common size.
But maybe I should have phrased my comment differently. I have been on the receiving end of rude comments from people about my body. It’s definitely offensive, no matter who it comes from. The difference is, though, I am not in the business of selling clothes. And honestly, my comment about the Facebook model was prompted because I couldn’t tell if what she was selling would work for someone like me. I thought that was the whole purpose of using models in the first place.
Anyway… the comments on that ad were pretty much like mine. Some were a lot more offensive.
It’s entirely possible that model is happy and healthy. And I do now regret saying she “needs to be fed”… even if she actually does.