The Situationist

Fitting In and Sizing Up

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 16, 2007

model-image.jpgIn February we published a post about a recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) examining the proliferation of sexualizing and objectifying images of girls and young women in the media. The report summarizes evidence of how those images may have a variety of negative consequences for girls as well as for others in our culture.

Bradley Bayou has made a fortune counseling women on how to look fabulous and designing clothes for fabulous-looking women. All was fine until he recently discovered that his own daughter, in an effort to squeeze into his clothes, succumed to the binging and purging of bulimia. Not so fabulous.

CBS had a story last week on Bayou’s changed perspective, now that some of the harmful effects of the fashion industry have hit home. We’ve excerpted portions of the story below.

* * *

Once called “the man for all sizes,” Bayou rose to the top by mastering the art of concealing a woman’s flaws and revealing her beauty.

But even the man for all sizes knew that skinny sells. Thin was in.

Bradley BayouBayou’s oldest daughter, Alexis Bayoud, noticed.

“I never fit into any of his sample sizes,” she says. “As a teenager and as a young adult, I thought I should be able to fit into his certain size (the tiny sample sizes) … because I was his daughter. And I just — didn’t.”

Bayou observes that the message the fashion industry “is sending to everybody is, ‘If you’re not thin, you’re not going to be happy.'”

“I wanted to be thin,” Alexis recalled. “I wanted to fit in. You know — I wanted to be beautiful. . . . I’ve always been so proud of him, and I always . . . I always kind of wanted to fit into his world.”

Bradley Bayou Fashions

When Alexis started college, she started taking diet pills — binging and purging.

To Bayou, she looked great: “All of a sudden, like, she was like she could wear my clothes. She was like model thin.”

“I was like, ‘You know I’m working out,’ ” Alexis says. “I’m eating right. And really — no — that was a lie.”

The truth came out when Alexis had a breakdown, and had to tell her father she was bulimic.

“She was literally collapsed on the floor, and was hysterical, like, out of control, and saying things like, ‘I want to die,’ ” Bayou remembers.

“It was that serious,” Alexis says. “And I think, if it had kept progressing, it would havebulimia.jpg been really bad.”

Alexis . . . is like millions of other women striving for the unattainable image of beauty created by skinny models.

“Potentially, tens of thousands of girls may develop an eating disorder because of the fact that they’re trying to live up to this,” observes Sean Patterson, president of the famous Wilhelmina Models in New York, the setting of the reality show called “The Agency.”

Patterson says the show’s scenes of models being pressured to be thin are “pretty real. . . . If we don’t find the models that fit into the clothes . . . we go out of business. We can’t exist. . . . And the talent that a designer’s looking for is going to be a size zero or a size two, at the most.”

* * *

Bayou and Patterson assert that recommendations the Council of Fashion Designers of America . . . issued this year, calling for healthy snacks and for designers to look for signs of eating disorders in their models, won’t fix the problem.

Says Patterson, “I don’t believe, necessarily, that having a guideline that says, ‘Have healthy snacks’ backstage at the show is gonna change the fact that the girls have to get on to that runway and squeeze into size zero dresses.”


Adds Bayou, “I think we have to do more, because it’s not gonna change with those guidelines.”

Bayou has written “The Science of Sexy” and now he’s telling aspiring designers it’s up to them to take the initiative and use larger models.

“Just because a small, elite group has told us that thin — skinny, forget thin — emaciated is in doesn’t mean it’s in,” he declares.

Alexis, says Bayou, “is one of many, many, many people out there — millions — who have this problem . . . where they don’t feel like they fit in . . . and that can be changed.”

* * *

[Bayou] says he’d like to see models pass a physical to prove that they’re eating properly. That’s what they started doing in Italy, but doctors in the United States say eating disorders are so complex, with so many physical and mental elements, there’s no simple, reliable way to diagnose them, at least for now.

Bayou also points out that, if the average woman is around a size 12, there’s a huge market out there that is underserved, with lots of money to be made designing clothes in larger sizes.



* * *

To read the entire story, click here. To read some related stories click on the following titles: Do thin models warp girls’ body image?; Skinny models banned from catwalk; and Looking Beyond the Runway for Answers on Underweight Models.

To view “Bones of Contention,” a well-done (17-minute) report regarding whether “size 0” models should be banned from the catwalk, click here.


7 Responses to “Fitting In and Sizing Up”

  1. Doug S. said

    Here’s one hypothesis that I’ve heard:

    Designers design clothes that are designed to look good on clothes hangers, not on people. (In other words, clothes that look good hung up on a store rack.) That means they need models that look like, well, clothes hangars, and not people.

  2. hymes said

    It makes no sense to me to test the models for eating disorders or even weigh them rather than make the designers make their designs larger than size 0. If the clothes the models have to wear on the runway are size 6, models will start eating enough to wear a size 6. Why put the blame on the women? Again may I add. And to diagnose women with a psychiatric disorder for trying to make a living???

  3. Lauren said

    My name is Lauren,
    I have a very close, and not to mention tall, friend and of whom I am very concerned about. Not long ago I found that she had been bulimic for a year, and I had never noticed. She is extremely thin at the moment and is still bulimic. She appears to want help when she is drunk but otherwise she won’t really talk about it, I’d like som advise as of how to talk to her about it. I don’t want it to get to a point where it’s too late for her to go back. I am learning about bulimia in psychology and understand it is difficult to treat.
    Yours Sincerely,

  4. Feride Seferaj said

    For Lauren

    Do her parents know? I really think they should know.

    And the way u can help is by showing her things like surveys that show more men prefer curvy women.
    Or programs like Fat Vs Thin (was shown on Channel 4) where an ex model talks about what she had to go through to get to a 0 and how much she hated it etc.

    If u slowly and progressively get her to watch things like that it could really help mentally, and even stop her thinking she has to be something else. Maybe invite her to yours and make her eat dinner and keep an eye on her if u do this a lot slowly she might put on some weight but u should be careful because it might hit her the wrong way and she might just stop eating all together.

    I was naturally really skinny most of my childhood and i was given these pills to take and made me put weight on it was so quick and i was really worried about it so i started getting in the habit of making myself sick and stuff. Until my boyfriend made me watch all these vids and told me he loved it when i was a size curvy 12 and now i’m back to that and i’m happier then ever.

    I hope this helped and good look i guess lol.


  5. ruth said

    Tengo una sobrina de apenas 11 años casi 12 que descubrí que es bulimica, o por lo menos que come de mas y cuando lo hace recorre al baño y devuelve lo que ingirió.
    No se como ayudar sin ser su mamá, pues no me animo de decirle a mi hermana (mamá de la niña), pues no se como reaccionaría ante un caso así

  6. […] the Obese and Some of its Situational Sources,” “Spas and Girls,” and “Fitting in and Sizing up.” Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Your Kids Are Not All ThatThe Overlooked […]

  7. pategos said

    es tudo boa gaija boa

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