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Sarah Feng

United States

hi, i'm sarah! currently reading: we were 8 years in power by ta nehisi coates; east of eden by john steinbeck.

managing editor @ counterclock journal (counterclockjournal.com), intern @ the stanford daily.

talk to me at sarahfeng.weebly.com.

Message to Readers

Sorry if this is terrible; I've never tried journalism before. Any feedback is welcome :-)

Skin, Bones, and Fabric

September 29, 2015

KNIFE PLEAT. FILIGREE. MANDARIN COLLAR. Neon leathers juxtaposed with silky lace ripple along the slender model's body, exposing sharp collarbones and wide hips. The boxy top hangs loosely over a tiny waist around which a pair of hands could wrap. A lucid membrane of pale skin is stretched thin over her bones, and a pair of loose epaulets emphasize her jutting shoulders. She strides purposefully like they had rehearsed so many times down the Styrofoam alley, pearly lights raining down on her from bulbs suspended overhead, the paperbag-style ruffles cinched around her waist billowing. Brick walls stand on each side, a dull, disintegrating red to accentuate how the brilliant colours wrap around her slim figure. Photographers crouch silently at every angle to capture each millisecond of her languid walk.
    They select the best photo, the one with her thin legs visible and alluring eyes wide, and pull it into the editing studio. Eyes are magnified, lashes are thickened, and her figure? Distorted and molded even slimmer, the swirling clothing adjusted to fit her perfect new body. Small layers of human skin are whittled away until her body bears a semblance to a plastic doll.
    Page by page, the magazine is created. This woman’s picture, filled with glistening white text and marvelous labels, slips out of a sleek black printer at the studio. Thousands like her photo are neatly bound together, exploding with colour to form the magazine. Its face displays the prettiest, best model with the autumn edition's title plastered across in capital letters. It is carefully packaged and shipped out, bearing a promise to women around the world.
    Yes, the model is beautiful. Yes, the model deserves her spot on that magazine. But as women around the world flip eagerly through the magazine’s glossy pages, they’re being fed a distorted vision of beauty. When a girl glimpses billboards and articles containing these models from an early age, their version of ‘aesthetically pleasing’ will automatically be tuned to that content. Photographs of fashion runways depict models that are slim, their bodies slender and natural, and slyly offers strips of flat stomachs and no-fat thighs. The industry may take digital editing and airbrushing as a common routine, but thousands of young girls staring longingly at the television don't.
    "That's one of the things that makes me rather angry, that I don't understand [...] That if you look wonderful, does that make you less important? Less powerful?" states Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of America's Vogue magazine, in the defence of Photoshop and other digital methods to enhance body image, on a 60 Minutes interview. It's clear that the fashion world holds manufactured skinniness as an everyday business, yet still a treasured quality of their models. They base a fairly large portion of their marketing off of this belief. For example, snug skinny jeans that nearly every clothes store out there carry says the magic word in it: ‘skinny’. 
    Too often one will be walking past a clothes store and hear, “I don’t know… white makes me look fat”  or “Do these shorts make my thighs look big?” Girls at all ages around the globe feel unsatisfied without an image of thin splendor like the fashion models. Society manipulates this subconscious need by promising a satisfactory imitation of the flawless, edited women through clothing, and sadly, most women step right into the trap. "Girls see enough of this body that we'll never be able to obtain," says Jennifer Lawrence on BBC Newsnight in response to a question about the body shape of her characer in a movie. In this environment, it’s no wonder that the unspoken admission tests for society’s more prestigious ranks include being able to squeeze into a size 0. Thousands of models, actresses, and brand faces aspire to achieve ultimate perfection through fitting into small clothes, and too many unknowing girls are following. 
    Contrary to popular belief, fashion is not about whether that dirndl skirt flatters one's legs or if a Peter Pan collar accentuates the collarbones. Fashion is art, fashion is a lifestyle, and its true beauty is not always portrayed on the glittering runways. Skinny is beautiful. But curvy is beautiful, too. 

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