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Was I Wrong to Conjecture the YSL Model was Anorexic? And A Gorgeous Chubby Girl Dancing

Hello mon petits. There’s a lovely woman named Jenni Chiu who blogs at Mommy Nani Boo Boo. Today I received a note from her on Facebook letting me know she was going to write a rebuttal to my Change.org petition (we currently have 43,800 signatures) asking Yves Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Belletini to stop using anorexic models in her ad campaigns.

Jenni’s piece is very thoughtful and brings an element to the discussion that I left out. Which is that there are many women who are naturally very thin, who eat quite well.

And I know she’s right about that because I was one of them in my teens and twenties and people would suggest I had an eating disorder, which I did not.

anorexia facts, anorexia

I was particulary thin here due to stress from dating a cheater, and apparently my remedy was to become a Dominatrix. However, I still think I look healthy (despite the hair cut)

Here is the photo from the YSL ad. I don’t have proof this model is anorexic, but Walden Behavioral Care cites “muscle loss and weakness” as one of their anorexia facts.

I see no musculature in this model at all and I particularly dislike her weak, lifeless posture. But, I must admit I had an emotional, visceral (not factual) reaction when I saw this photo. I felt in my gut that YSL had gone too far.

Photo credit: Saint Laurent Paris

Photo credit: Saint Laurent Paris

I still hope you’ll consider signing my petition, but have a look at Jenni’s post then let me know where you fall in this discussion.

Also, I just saw this incredibly sexy, fun video called: A Fat Girl Dancing: Talk To Me Dirty (Jason Derulo) on YouTube.

I admit this woman’s BMI may become a health issue for her later in life, but I couldn’t help finding her the opposite of the image above. This lady is playful, adorable, full of life and just a little bit badass. Happy Thursday! xo S

Tags assigned to this article:
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  1. Carol Cassara
    Carol Cassara 27 March, 2014, 11:49

    The woman in the ad looks unhealthily thin, without muscle mass at all. She looks weak and unattractive. Glorifying that is absolutely wrong & harmful. There is no middle ground here.

    Reply this comment
  2. Mindy Hoffbauer
    Mindy Hoffbauer 27 March, 2014, 12:03

    I applaud your efforts to pull together a petition. I’m not generally a petition-signer, but whenever I dislike a company’s marketing or their behavior, I simply refuse to encourage them with money. Is the model featured above anorexic? Who knows. But are all the YSL models this scarily thin? Yes. So no YSL purchases for me.

    Reply this comment
  3. Carpool Goddess
    Carpool Goddess 27 March, 2014, 12:19

    She looks scary skinny, as if she’s ill. I can’t imagine why anyone would find that attractive.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 March, 2014, 13:19

      Hi Carpool Goddess — I think Jenni took exception to some of the comments left on the Change.org site that vilified the model herself. I certainly don’t want to participate in shaming an individual woman, but did feel I had to use the photo to get my point across. That’s why I blurred out her facial features. My hope is that if this young woman somehow becomes aware of this petition and IF she’s not eating properly perhaps this will give her permission to nourish herself. I guess that’s a BEST CASE scenario.

      Reply this comment
  4. Lindsey H.
    Lindsey H. 27 March, 2014, 18:47

    Long time reader, first time commentor;) I just thought I’d throw in the two cents I know about the girl in the video since I just read a short article about her right before stopping by here. As far as I understand, after gaining 200 pounds in a year or so, she was diagnosed with PCOS. She was a dancer and thought she might not dance again. After a long journey of accepting and loving the body she now has, she’s back to being a badass dancer.

    I’ll definitely raise a glass of wine and “Cheers!” to her. Keep being the badass dancer you are!!

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 March, 2014, 21:52

      Lindsey thanks for filling me in. She was so awesome in that video. I hardly even noticed the guy dancing next to her. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her and I couldn’t stop smiling.

      Reply this comment
  5. dixie
    dixie 28 March, 2014, 06:24

    Hi, first time reader, coming over from Jenni’s blog 🙂
    Okay first off – that girl can DANCE!
    Secondly, I agree with Jenni that there shouldn’t be a movement to ban extremely thin models, but instead a movement to ban the use of ONLY thin models, to change the exclusivity in the fashion world in general. I understand thin models on the runway – they literally want the models to be clothes hangers for the garments. Very few little girls watch runway shows, and I have to say, I’m sorry but thin runway models bother me not at all so long as they are truly that way naturally. (I say this as a curvy model, myself) They aren’t up there to necessarily be an ideal for beauty, but first and foremost to display the garments and fashion trends. However, every young girl I know looks at magazines, tv ads and what not and that is when the societal standards of beauty come in to play for me. Because then they ARE being displayed as the epitome of beauty, the picture perfect creature we should all inspire to be. Good news is that some countries are now requiring a certain body fat percentage and if the models are under then they cannot walk for shows. That and the embracing of ALL body types are what we should be virtually marching for.

    I do agree the magazine editors went out of their way to go heroine chic here, (Note the purposeful shadowing and highlighting making her legs look even thinner than they already are and the slumped posture you mentioned) but you’ll only get so far complaining about that because they will always claim ‘artistic license’ Which really sucks. Best thing would be to not buy anything from them to show how what they consider to be their target market does NOT find this okay.

    And also – kudos to you. We all complain, but few actually make a stand or start a movement. Bravo.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 28 March, 2014, 09:43

      Hi Dixie — so nice to see you here. You make some salient points about runway models being hangars for the clothes, but I definitely think the new BMI rules instated in Israel are important. In my research I discovered at least 4 runway models who succumbed to anorexia. One literally had a heart attack and died after stepping off the catwalk, and her model younger sister succumbed six months later. So tragic. Anyhow, thanks for being so cool and I love that Jenni.

      Reply this comment
  6. Lisa
    Lisa 28 March, 2014, 06:25

    Hell, if that “fat girl” keeps dancing like that, she won’t be a “fat girl” much longer! I’m tired just watching it. I am always so much more impressed by people busting their butt when they have extra pounds than I am watching people with 0% body fat working out. Get it girl!

    Reply this comment
  7. Bett Foley
    Bett Foley 28 March, 2014, 16:23

    This photo is really creepy, like if she went to the doctor for a vaccination they’d hit bone. The thing is fashion magazines define beauty in our culture & create a standard for young women to aspire to. Even if this model doesn’t have an eating disorder and she is just naturally a walking skeleton, a lot of (make that “most”) women who weren’t born with the skinny gene would have to starve themselves to look like this. Enough already!

    Reply this comment
  8. Patty
    Patty 29 March, 2014, 05:19

    No doubt the women of flesh are much more attractive and sensual!

    Reply this comment
  9. Cindyhuber
    Cindyhuber 30 March, 2014, 22:18

    I can’t imagine why I would ever buy anything from YSL…I’m not trying to be dramatic BUT when anyone uses a female that looks like she was just liberated from a concentration camp…I’m horrified.

    Reply this comment
  10. Serena Belva
    Serena Belva 1 April, 2014, 15:05

    Read Jenni’s post and agree with a lot of what she said. However, the woman in the ad looks like she has emaciated muscle mass or it’s some seriously over-the-top Photoshop. I speak from a similar perspective of you and Jenni because I weighed 85 pounds as a freshman in high school. I was 100 lbs when I graduated. I ate whenever and whatever I wanted to. As a 5’5” and 100 lb or less high school athlete I had muscle mass and a feminine shape. I do remember hurtful comments where people told me I was “too skinny” but I knew I was healthy and no doctor ever told me that I was an unhealthy weight. Shannon, you look healthy in the dominatrix photo and Jenni looks healthy in her modeling photo. In my heart I do not believe that the YSL model is healthy. It looks like glorified misery to me and it is setting an unhealthy standard in my opinion. I do not agree with shaming any person’s body but I will not shop at YSL. I am happy that I signed your petition.

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 1 April, 2014, 17:13

      Hi Serena — hey thanks for this input. I’ve seen a lot of slender women who still look healthy (including Jenni in her shots), it’s the lack of musculature in the YSL ad that makes me uncomfortable (along with how thin she is). Anyhow,I do appreciate your support. A problem does exist in the fashion industry, I just don’t think there’s any doubt of that.

      Reply this comment
  11. Alexandra
    Alexandra 3 April, 2014, 20:55

    Petitioning what you believe to be anorexic girls to stop being used as models has the same effect on us naturally skinny girls and the girls you’re desperately trying to “protect” from media.
    I have been underweight all my life and I most probably eat more than the average girls my age. (21). Calling a skinny girl anorexic, ugly and unrepresentative of the majority of woman because she does not fall under your personal standards of what healthy SHOULD look like is the equivalent of me calling everyone fat and ugly because they don’t fit under my personal standard of what “appropriate weight” is.

    Reply this comment
  12. Katherine
    Katherine 5 April, 2014, 07:41

    I don’t understand why one is more acceptable to you. One woman is using her thin body (natural or not) to fuel her lively hood. The fat (natural or not) woman is doing the same. Her unusual fit to the role of dancing brings to her fame, fuelling her lively hood.

    Reply this comment
  13. Sasorri
    Sasorri 5 April, 2014, 11:42

    I just want to add that I can see why bigger women take offense to being cat names like “fat.” Any label can hurt a person and it’s wrong. But it also hurts the (naturally) thin women who are called “anorexic” and “ugly” because they don’t have big breasts or curves. I am 98lbs, in my 20’s, and people tell me almost on a daily basis that I need to eat. They don’t notice me because of my outfit or face. They notice me becauseim skinny. On a chart I am underweight for my height, but I feel great. But I have been through the bullying of being called ‘anorexic, ugly, and bulimic” I have made myself psychically and emotionally sick trying to gain weight so I won’t be judged by my peers. Which was stupid in the first place. I stuffed my face daily trying to get more calories, did light exercises to stay fit, and drank weight gainer shakes. I need gained anything but chest pains and breathing problems. My body couldn’t handle the intake I was pushing. My doctor told me to go back to how I was and not to worry about the weight because I was healthier being happy. I’m still not 100% happy with my body (smallboobieslol). But I can accept myself more now. I just want everybody to know – it hurts just as bad to be singled out and bullied because of your body type. Whether you’re small or big just don’t it. These models are adults and can make they’re own decisions. Children are going to do as they please when they get to be adults too. I agree we need natural models look up too, but not all of us skinny girls are anorexic.

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 5 April, 2014, 11:53

      Sasorri – you are right, not all skinny girls are anorexic, and it was not my intention to suggest that all skinny girls are. I was one of those skinny girls too, right up until having my children at age 36 and 38. People were always telling me they were worried I was too thin, yet I ate like a Stevadore. And to be honest, those comments didn’t get to me because my body type was the ideal at that time and continues to be.

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  14. Michele
    Michele 5 April, 2014, 11:48

    Shannon, I felt the need to speak up regarding your instinct to take action on the YSL ad. There have been many times that I’ve heard women say, “She’s too skinny!”. As long as the woman in question appeared to be a healthy looking, athletic skinny, I’ve added that saying that is like saying someone is too fat. I was a dancer(am a dancer..) and received a weight notice for being “too skinny” but, was still athletic and strong. I was also 20! It did make me pause to be sure that I was eating properly which I probably was not. This shot is different. I’m not sure that it’s all her, I think YSL is going for that “on death’s door” look and most likely photo shopped this already “overly slim”… young woman. Today, I work with young girls who are having self esteem issues in elementary school. Imagine having these issues at 9,10,11 years old then adding visuals such as this to blossoming hormones plus peer pressure! If supporting young women’s view of themselves could benefit magazines, then I think they’d make changes. A petition such as this is certainly a start. Thank you for following your gut. We need to think about our next generation of women!

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    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 5 April, 2014, 11:52

      Michele — I really appreciate this comment. My intention is NOT to shame naturally thin women (or anorexic women — which is why I removed that word and I really thank the women who protested for making me realize that word is inflammatory), but there is something “death’s door” about this photo. It’s not just that this woman is thin, it’s that she looks unhealthy; no muscle tone, her posture — it’s YSL I am trying to change, not naturally thin women.

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  15. Nita
    Nita 6 April, 2014, 01:42

    I read both your blog post and Jenni’s and you both are right.

    I am one of those girls that eats all day, you’ll never see me without a snack in my hand, but can’t gain a thing! I actually try so hard to gain some pounds, ’cause I feel like I’m underweight and I don’t like it, but I never seem to be able to gain weight 🙁

    Although you are right in saying that ads should not use extremely skinny models because only a minority of skinny people exist and it is setting a bad example to all “healthy” girls out there, there are women (believe it or not) that just wish so badly to gain a bit of extra pounds but they can’t, however hard that is to grasp.

    Do not take me wrong, I love your website and what you are trying to achieve in the minds of women all over the world! But instead of banning the use of thin models, and use only models on the more curvy side, there should be a variety of models, of all shapes and sizes, because the world is a diverse place! As Jenni mentioned, Dove started doing this a long time ago and you have many plus-size models (so they are called) that are very famous and that many young girls look up to (Tyra Banks for example).

    I also think that women should start setting the example that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you are naturally underweight or naturally overweight, but that you see yourself as beautiful (because we all are), have strong confidence in yourself and accomplish something with your MIND!!!

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    • Nita
      Nita 6 April, 2014, 02:16

      I also want to add that I did sign the petition though, because at the moment models really are EXTREMELY skinny

      Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 6 April, 2014, 08:59

      Hi Nita — thanks for all of the time you took to read everything. I do think Jenni and many of the commenters were right that I should not sling around the word “anorexic” as I don’t know that that particular model is mentally ill. However, in my continued research I’m uncovering more and more very famous models who have struggled with eating disorders as a result of their career. So I think it would be fabulous for women working in that profession not to have to fit into the sample size which is currently 0. Zero. There’s an interesting article in HuffPo on this And thanks for signing my petition. I believe 98% of the population shouldn’t have to feel that particular image is how they should look.

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